On Our 10-Year Wedding Anniversary

Update:

Part 1: See photos and read the story of our ten year vow renewal ceremony in Maui. 

Part 2: Tips on how to plan an intimate vow renewal ceremony.


Ten years ago on this day, I said I do to my husband, to be his lawfully wedded wife through thick and thin. We were friends since sixteen years old so I knew him fairly well. And I was certain he was the right man for me.

He was sweet enough to drive an hour to drop off a cup of Starbucks at my door step during finals week in college, nurturing enough to take care of me when I was sick with high fever and body chills, and understanding enough to overlook my shortcomings. He was smart, considerate and kind. Most importantly, he was a great listener and I enjoyed spending time with him. I can feel how much he loved me and we had great chemistry. We shared many wonderful memories as friends, then later as boyfriend and girlfriend.

On November 14, 2004, we got married.

Notice the content look in my husband’s eyes, the coy smile on my face. We look like any other bride and groom, two young lovers who are madly and hopelessly in love.

And notice the EXIT sign that hangs above our heads.

Symbolically, our wedding day marked the EXIT of MY life, and the beginning of OUR life. Notice “life” is singular. I knew that in theory, but boy, I never realized just how much work it would require to build OUR life together.

Even as I said I do, I had no idea what marriage entails. Marriage, like everything else in life, cannot be taught or understood before it is lived. It needs to be felt and breathed. Sometimes it feels joyous, sometimes it hurts.

Even as I said I do, I had no idea what marriage entails. Marriage, like everything else in life, cannot be taught or understood before it is lived. It needs to be felt and breathed. Sometimes it feels joyous, sometimes it hurts.

There are married couples who claim they are still madly in love. For them, marriage doesn’t require major adjustments or sacrifices. They naturally know how to keep each other happy, how to live a perfectly balanced and harmonious life.

I struggled with such notion of a perfectly harmonious marriage because ours was far from it. I even thought something was terribly wrong with our marriage by comparing our less-than-perfect relationship to other people’s. I thought we were an anomaly. Today, I can’t help but to think perhaps the longest lasting marriages, the ones that last forever until death, look more like ours than theirs. Why?

Because we’re used to swimming through turbulent waters. We even survived a few tsunamis together. Despite the near death drowning accidents, we swam frantically and rose above the surface.  It’s certainly not the prettiest picture of marriage but perhaps the most realistic, the one that helps marriages last a lifetime.

Because we’re used to swimming through turbulent waters. We even survived a few tsunamis together. Despite the near death drowning accidents, we swam frantically and rose above the surface.  It’s certainly not the prettiest picture of marriage but perhaps the most realistic, the one that helps marriages last a lifetime.

So today, I know that marriage is no fairytale, but we try every single day to reach our happily ever after ending. Isn’t that, the greatest fairytale above all?

Ten years ago today, I married the man of my dreams. Despite it being one of the rainiest November in many years, God blessed our wedding day with plenty of sunshine and the most beautiful sunset during the wedding ceremony. I remember the wind feeling cool against my bare shoulders while exchanging our vows under the gazebo. The sky was streaked in various shades of orange, pink and crimson and birds circled above us as if they’re congratulating our union.

I remember the happiness in his eyes, the bliss in the air, and the waves of emotions that I never knew I can feel in a single day.

On that day, I married the man of my dreams.

Ten years later, is he still the man of my dreams? Yes and no.

He isn’t perfect, but I know he is perfect for me. He is perfect because he has seen me in my darkest moments and never gave up on me. He has seen me at my worst, yet held my hand again the next day. He understands my dreams and supports them without fail, and manages to catch me every time I’m close to giving up.

He makes me smile when I’m feeling down and manages to make me laugh out loud even as I’m mad. He reminds me life doesn’t have to be so serious and teaches me how to be more spontaneous and positive. He teaches me the importance of gratitude, forgiveness, and letting go. He is a life coach who taught me how to roll with the punches. He embodies the courage and vulnerability to say I love you even during moments I can’t.

Thanks to him, I’m a little more fun, a little more vibrant, a little more youthful, and a little less worrisome. And despite all the ups and downs of marriage, I know he loves me inside and out, for who I am, not for who I appear to be.

Our marriage has gone through loss, countless ups and downs, and enough explosive fights to blow most people’s fights out of the water. We loved hard and fought even harder.  We fought hard because we were afraid to lose each other in this reality called marriage. At times we felt betrayed by the stranger who seemed to have replaced each other, and other times we were afraid because our marriage felt like quicksand.

Most of the time our marriage cruises along peacefully then suddenly, a storm hits and we are left tumbling through currents of life. It’s rarely predictable but more sporadic, like a natural disaster. An earthquake…with little aftershocks. During these turbulent moments we fight not to love, but to pass through the dark tunnel together without letting go of each other’s hand. We can’t lose hope and we can’t give up on each other. We keep walking, we keep paddling, we keep trying. Sometimes it’s him, sometimes it’s me and sometimes it’s both of us. But one thing remains certain.

Most of the time our marriage cruises along peacefully then suddenly, a storm hits and we are left tumbling through currents of life. It’s rarely predictable but more sporadic, like a natural disaster. An earthquake…with little aftershocks. During these turbulent moments we fight not to love, but to pass through the dark tunnel together without letting go of each other’s hand. We can’t lose hope and we can’t give up on each other. We keep walking, we keep paddling, we keep trying. Sometimes it’s him, sometimes it’s me and sometimes it’s both of us. But one thing remains certain.

We now have a mutual understanding, a silent contract, a promise that binds our two souls. No matter how hard it seems, we don’t give up on each other.

Sometimes the storm is caused by an isolated incident, sometimes it’s the result of months of repressed emotions and words. Sometimes it’s caused by stress from work, by demands of motherhood, by one’s amplified emotions, or inconceivable differences between a man and a woman.

Living together, paying bills together, sharing chores together, raising children together, growing up together– such realities of marriage bring out the best, and sometimes the worst in each other.

Marriage and motherhood required me to give up everything that begins with my and replace them with everything that begins with our.  As I exited my life and entered our life, I learned about people, things and circumstances that matter more than myself.

How humbling, self-defeating, yet so beautiful and transcendental.

This is, what love after marriage looks like.

  Banner image credit:  Melody Hansen

 

Angela
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One thought on “On Our 10-Year Wedding Anniversary

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