Category Archives: Marriage

media marriages

On December 29, I wake up and whisper “happy anniversary” to my husband.  On January 28, he gives me a birthday gift (and  I give him his, six days late, because we always agree to not do gifts so shortly after Christmas and I don’t want him to feel obligated to get me one because I always get him one; but we both do, anyway). When I want him to know I love him, I hug him, or text him, or sometimes slip a note in his folded shirts for him to find later.

What I don’t do: write on his Facebook wall. Tweet about it. Write a status update in which I tag him.

I want my husband to know I love him. And yes, you, our friend, his family member, my acquaintance, you will probably be able to tell I love my husband because of the way we are with one another, because of the way we talk about one another, because of the way we look at each other. I don’t need to convince you of it, because it’s true, and as something true, it’s already evident.

By posting flowery love notes to social media (especially people who use social media pretty much exclusively for this), I don’t think you love your spouse. I think you want me to think you love your spouse. I think you care more about the appearance than the reality. I wonder if I can tell that you and your spouse love one another by the way you are across the room from each other at a party. I wonder what your tone is struggling to hide. I wonder what your eyes can’t hide.

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looking back

For me, 2012 was the Year of the Nest. It was my first year of marriage, and I had wanted to integrate Keller’s and my belongings, get rid of towers of boxes, and create an inviting space for guests—in short, I wanted to make a home. Our first place was on the eighteenth floor of a downtown Seattle apartment building. We called it the Nest, a reference both to our newlywed nesting status and to its place among the treetops. Although I did manage unpack all our belongings, it never stopped feeling like an apartment. When we finally moved last August, we joked that it was as if we had lived in a hotel for a year and were just coming home.

In that first week at the new apartment, we painted, unpacked, and organized everything. The second week brought our first house guest, my sister (technically sister-in-law, but we call each other ‘sister’) all the way from Jordan. It was so nice to be able to put her in a room that could be hers for the stay, whereas previous guests had set up camp in the living room. A few days later, we had our first party, inviting friends to grill out and relax around a bonfire in the backyard. Since then we have hosted meals for friends, gatherings for school groups, even Thanksgiving for a dozen. Our home is known as Fort Davis, a restful sanctuary set aside from the battles of the world. A couple friends helped us decorate our tree while being warmed by hot cider and a small fire, and as we together began to anticipate Christmas, my friend said to his wife, “This just feels like home, doesn’t it?” Perhaps the best compliment an intentional homemaker could overhear; the warmth of the fireplace could not compete with the warmth in my heart.

home

The other part of my desire to nest well was to be mindful in keeping a clean home and establishing routines. Since mindfulness is a habit rather than an achievement, it doesn’t fit the easy parameters of success or failure. Some days I am attentive and aware. Folding laundry is meditative, most weeks. But there are other times when it falls apart. The paper-writing season at the end of last term meant that laundry didn’t even get done for a couple weeks, and stayed in baskets cluttering the bedroom floor for a couple more. Cultivating the memory to be mindful is a work that will continue to be in progress.

2013 is deemed the Year of the Pen, but more on that in my next post!

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the vows

We wanted traditional vows, but couldn’t find any that were fully satisfactory. The first ones we came across, the man promises to ‘love’ and the woman promises to ‘respect’, which had implications of inequality and priorities that we don’t hold true. Others omitted pieces we viewed as important, such as the symbolism of the rings, or reflected aspects of a relationship that aren’t true for us. In the end, I took a bunch of different forms of traditional vows and merged them into one. The only problem was that I hadn’t realized how much longer they would take to say than to read — and how easily I would start crying. Because of the many post-wedding comments on how beautiful and thoughtful our vows are, I thought it’d be good to post them here.

The Vows

[Kate/Keller], I take you to be my [wife/husband],

To have and to hold from this day forward,

To share the joy and sorrow side by side,

For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,

In sickness or in health, to love and to cherish, ‘til death do us part.

I humbly give you my hand and my heart

As a sanctuary of warmth and peace,

And pledge my faith and unconditional love to you.

I will be yours alone as long as God allows us to live.

I love you today, and I promise to love you tomorrow, always and forever.

I will honor and respect you, comfort and cherish you.

I will stand by you as God guides us to do His will.

Just as this circle is without end, my love for you is eternal.

Just as it is made of incorruptible substance,

My commitment to you will never fail.

This ring I give you is a token and pledge of my constant faith, bold hope, and abiding love.

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giving away

“Who gives this woman to be wedded to this man?”

And the bride’s father responds: “I do.”

It’s still a tradition in many weddings, and yet rarely would the bride’s life reflect that her father had control over her. By the time most of us are engaged, we have our own apartment, our own bank accounts, our own social life. We usually meet and date our groom for some time before he’s introduced to our father, and yet we still ask that our father claim ownership of us and our relationship on our wedding day.

I left the lines out of the ceremony draft I gave to my officiant. I’ve seen some ceremonies modify the moment by asking “Who supports this marriage?” to give the father the opportunity to say “I do” or “Her mother and I,” but that didn’t feel right either. They certainly aren’t the only ones in attendance who support the marriage; our hope is the entire room would want to shout, “We do!”

At the rehearsal, the officiant asked “Do you want your father to give you away? It’s not in my notes.”

I hesitated before responding, “I’m not really his to give,” and immediately hear my sister’s hiss: “Kate! You have to! It’s tradition!”

Everyone discussed alternatives while I struggled with the question of tradition. In some areas, I fall into the category of traditional. Not tradition as a habit, but tradition as a cultivation of memory and faith, tradition as ritual and reminder. But in this case, my mind was reeling: what do we do with traditions that no longer serve us, that no longer reflect our reality or our values? How can we honor the past while shaping the content to call into question our assumptions about that tradition? How can we maintain the form while presenting the altered truth?

The next night my father walked me down the aisle. We paused to give me time to kiss my mom, took a few more steps, and stood for the musician’s final chords.

“Who gives this woman to be wedded to this man?”

“She gives herself freely, with our blessing.”

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the wedding day

Over a month after Keller and I’s wedding, I’m still piecing together feelings and memories. The day went by so quickly. Most everything during the ceremony is a blur of emotions, and everything post-ceremony is a blur of faces, smiles, and laughter.

I remember trying hard to be a relaxed bride while my sister had her hair done four times, and after that while waiting in line for lunch in a veil in with a restaurant full of onlookers. The girls and I had makeup done, laced me into my dress, and my nearly-sister-in-law walked me upstairs for Keller’s first look of me as his bride. He waited in the sanctuary as I took a couple deep breaths, suddenly nervous, and walked in to see his face light up.

Then, lots of photos, stuffing my dress into a car for more photos, cars and trucks honking and waving at the site of a white dress, a brief freak-out of time-anxiety during yet more photos at the church, and it was time to go into hiding as guests began arriving.

I remember standing at the back of the church, my dad saying something in an attempt to be calming, my whole body shaking as I got ready to step into a room of 130 sets of eyes that would all be on me.

During vows, I remember telling myself “it’s ok, you can take a minute, take a deep breath” as I tried to find my voice around my joy that couldn’t help but overflow in the form of tears.

After the ceremony before the guests were dismissed, being at the back of the church: Just energy and joy with the wedding party.

Worrying that my parents’ house would be wall-to-wall people, and walking in to find it intimate but open, better than we had hoped and exactly as I’d dreamed since a child.

When we were supposed to cut the cake, the knife was nowhere to be found, so I tried to entertain the waiting guests, awkwardly.

The rest of the reception was just circling and smiles and family and laughing and friends. Narrative memory doesn’t really pick up again until towards the end of the night, when one kindly discreet friend pulled me aside and whispered “You need to go, you need to get laid,” and two minutes later a louder coworker saying “What are you doing here? Go to the hotel!” and as we were preparing to leave, a parents’ friend shouting “GO HAVE SEX!”

Walking to the elevators of the JW Marriott and the loungers cheering for us.

And that’s as far as you get to come in my memory-piecing process.

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