On this day, 16 years ago, Ad Man and I were married at a charming cottage in the Hollywood Hills. The attendees were a ragtag bunch which, even in hindsight, seems appropriate to the occasion. We’d gotten engaged less than 3 months before and decided to avoid all the drama that goes along with planning a wedding by giving ourselves a short timetable and resolving to make ours intimate and relatively casual.
We enlisted the help of a few friends, some of whom were Ad Man’s customers at the bike shop he managed at the time. A caterer and a florist were among our cyclist friends and they both performed miracles for us on our measly budget. Our DJ was another friend who was a well-known club DJ and played an eclectic mix of Sinatra, hip hop and old-school soul music all night.
The one thing that was traditional at our wedding, however, were our vows. There sure as hell was no obeying and we went light on the religious stuff, but other than that, we stuck close to the script. Up until the last minute, Ad Man was threatening to write his own vows, the thought of which filled me with horror. I knew my reaction to his original vows would be unpredictable at best. I imagined him being uber sappy and me turning into a blubbering mess. Or, being so nervous anticipating what he was going to say that I’d giggle my way through the ceremony. One thing I knew for sure, though, was that I’d be crawling out of my skin if his grammar sucked.
So, I begged him to stick with the well-worn, traditional vows, figuring that they’d stood the test of time for a reason. And, like any wife-to-be worth her salt, I won. The ceremony turned out to be perfect…a little tradition, a bit of hippie shit and lot of quirkiness. After 18+ years together, 16 years of marriage and 2 kids later, though, I’m thinking those original vows would need a bit of tweaking if we were to repeat them today. I imagine something like the following would be more appropriate.
Dearly beloved, you have traveled here today from across the country and, indeed, the globe, to gather once again to relive your 20s and to witness the marriage of this often grumpy, middle-aged advertising executive to this occasionally bitchy, middle-aged, stay-at-home mom. They may not seem familiar to you since you remember them as the young, zen, blue-haired bike shop manager and the hip but ambitious, young and fit, entertainment lawyer, but I assure you, they are the same people. Believe me, they are as shocked by the changes as you are.
If any person can show numerous damn good reasons why they should not be re-joined together, let them speak now, provide concrete evidence including photographs, and be prepared to break the news to their two young children, or forever shut the F up.
Through marriage, Ad Man and the blogger known as MommyEnnui make a commitment together to face their disappointments, embrace their fading dreams, realize their unreasonable hopes for the future and accept each other’s failures, many of which came as unwelcome surprises since the day they first married eons ago.
Marriage is the union of husband and wife in heart, (flabby) body and (slipping) mind. It is an act of faith, no less terrifying than skydiving, a personal commitment and, maybe a couple times a month if he’s lucky and she’s been drinking, a physical union. Marriage has been described as the best and most important relationship that can exist between two people. That may be a bit of an exaggeration in that it ignores the extreme importance of others such as one’s therapist, nanny or barista, but you get the idea.
Anyway, who gives this woman in marriage to this man?
I give my damn self! Actually, I don’t give myself to anyone. You think just because I’m a wife and mother that I’m not my own person?! Various overly defensive comments, blah, blah, blah, on and on…
Do you, Ad Man, take MommyEnnui to continue to be your wife, to live together in a charmingly untidy home that really needs to have the bathrooms renovated, in the state of holy matrimony? Will you love her even when she’s off her meds, comfort her when the grocery clerk calls her “ma’am,” honor her, at least in public, and keep her, but not in a creepy, sexist, patriarchal way?
Will you stand by her in mental illness and in health, or whatever passes for health now that you’re both in your 40s, for richer and even when you realize you’ve been paying her student loans for the last 16 years, in sadness and in joy, even through those years when the sadness just seems to pile up and far outweighs the joy, forsaking all others for as long as you both shall live?
Hell yeah! I’m the luckiest man in the world! (Or something like that.)
And, do you, MommyEnnui, take Ad Man to continue to be your husband, to live together with your cute but sometimes evil spawn, in the state of holy matrimony? Will you love him even when he leaves pans to “soak” for a week before washing them, comfort him when some whippersnapper at work doesn’t get his reference to a John Hughes movie, honor him by not writing about him on your blog, and keep him…on a short leash?
Will you stand by him in sickness, when he’s a whiny pain-in-the-ass even though you had two humans cut out of your uterus without a complaint, and in health, for richer and for when he threatens to buy an expensive motorcycle, in sadness and when he’s gleefully geeking out over some new piece of technology, forsaking all others for as long as you both shall live or at least until you’re so old you no longer remember who he is?
Yes, I will agree to everything except for the blog part.
You have pronounced yourselves husband and wife. What, therefore, a non-denominational minister from 1-800-I-MARRY-YOU, joined together so very long ago, let nothing put asunder, not the death of a parent, infertility, miscarriage, depression, raising two children, changing careers, unemployment, moving across the country, paying a mortgage or the day-to-day crap of life. You two are stuck together forever whether you like it or not.
I like it. I like it a lot. Happy anniversary, Ad Man. I love you!