— Chris & Tabitha, October 25, 2013, Owen Farm, Chapmansboro, TN —
[Text of toast that I gave with my gal pal, Courtney, the Magnificent Matron of Honor]
In trying to figure out what to say today, I asked for help. I reached out to people who have been in relationships for varying lengths of time, and asked them to offer a few words about their relationship, about commitment and, if they wanted to, about marriage. Some of these come from your friends and family, people you know and love, some of whom are sitting here tonight. Some of them come from people you’ve never met, from friends and family of mine whose relationships I admire and who were kind enough to help me crowd source this toast! Here’s what they had to say.
-Being in a relationship that is not disposable has really taken years to figure out, but ultimately I think it really takes deciding – again and again and again – that I do not consider this relationship to be disposable. It’s a subtle, but important distinction.
-Years 1 through 7 are all about working out which of your own things you can keep and which you have to let go, negotiating space and ownership. We have no idea how we got through it, but sex and kids were helpful.
-You can’t expect more out of a relationship than you are willing to put into it.
-Commitment is not really something you make or think or say so much as something that you do, endure, survive, and feed.
-Adventure. It doesn’t have to be dangerous or exotic or expensive, but doing new things together is a great way to build and share a life. Whether it’s exploring a new (or familiar) city or climbing a mountain, seeking out new experiences has allowed us to learn about ourselves, each other and the world around us.
-I know myself better than anyone else, and *I’m* sick of me at least once a day – how can I expect someone else to deal with the good and bad with perpetual good nature? I’m certainly not capable of it. So, ultimately, for me, it’s about acknowledging that a lifetime partnership won’t always be a delight, but knowing that there’s nobody else you’d rather be in the trenches with.
-Self-care and self-love are foundational to being able to love a partner healthfully. Coming to the table with ourselves sorted out sweeps out enough space for real intimacy to take place.
-Say sorry and mean it, say thank you and mean it. Share the remote. Take photos. Go on trips. Pull your own weight. Split up the chores. Listen. Talk. Listen some more.
-Go into a marriage knowing you are not trying to mold a person into what you might want them to be but to love that person for exactly who they are.
-Marriage isn’t ALWAYS happy or sad, rich or poor, fun or serious, exciting or boring, good or bad, easy or hard, but it is ALWAYS worth the effort.
-Being together is like having our own team, where we can be ourselves and relax, where we can be weird if we want and we always have each other’s back.
-We are a team and committed to infusing our own corner of the world with good things in the form of laughter, hugs, eye-opening discussions, celebrations, magical experiences, and the support we each need when times are challenging, sad, or unpredictable.
-Perhaps it’s less about a long-term commitment than it is about the choice we make in each moment to stay together and to stay true.
-Here’s the point: Marriage, or commitment, is about acknowledging that we all have our own valid ways of going through life, and your partner has a lot to teach you about how to manage a situation, you just have to let them do it in their own way.
-Compromise is important, but compromise cannot always be approached from the perspective of giving in, or giving something up, or losing out. Rather, it must be framed in terms of setting priorities, figuring out what is *really* important, and then working together to determine what path makes the most sense.
-Try to always assume the best in each other.
-At the end of the day, marriage should not be about right or wrong, but about being reliable, kind, and understanding.
-It’s more important to be kind than to be right.
And, maybe most importantly,
-Don’t stop being sweet to each other.
I ran everything I got through a word cloud program, to see which words were used most often and appeared most prevalently in the tag cloud. Unsurprisingly, words that stood out were:
The three words that were used most often, however, that showed up the largest, in the biggest, boldest font, the words that capture most succinctly and completely all the stories that people shared and all the reflections on being in relationship and advice about commitment and marriage, were these:
LOVE. TOGETHER. ALWAYS.
To Tabitha and Chris – cheers – we love you.