Sunday, August 19, 2007


This weekend we traveled to Valparaiso, Indiana for a 50th anniversary party.

I've always thought that the renewal of wedding vows was a silly ceremony. It seemed to me that most vow renewals were about: Look at meeeeee, I miss being the briiiiide.

And I figured that the vows don't need repeating. "As long as we both shall live." I said it. I meant it. That's that.

But now I feel different. I've always been told that the mind is like a steel trap, and as we age it tends to try to close, so an increasing effort is necessary to continue to force it open.

I do notice that in myself at times, and certainly in others, especially as people age. With the increasing fragility and fear that can come with becoming elderly, it seems that many people hold tightly to certainty and judgement, as though those things will keep them safe, will keep the world familiar and less threatening.

For myself, however, I become more comfortable with who I am year by year, and am less certain of everything over time. "I could never . . . " "How could anyone . . . "

Oh, that's how!

Empathy. And from there, growth and understanding, even of situations I've not been in. It's a work in progress, I'm a work in progress.

But back to anniversaries and vow renewals.

Many (most?) marriages go through periods of stress. What's wrong with recommitting? What's wrong with saying to your partner that you choose him, all over again?

And what's wrong with celebrating the commitment it takes to make a partnership work over the treacherous terrain of life, year by year, child by child, paycheck by tax season, tragedy by success, whatever your marriage's stresses are?

I think we should focus less on marriages and more on anniversaries.

I think we should celebrate life's happenings, more than life's promises. I think we should party more at funerals, should eulogize our loved ones while they're still alive, should throw big anniversary bashes and for-no-good-reason parties for those who make our lives richer. And for ourselves, too. I think that an accomplishment doesn't always come at the conclusion of anything: a graduation, a career, a marriage, a life.

At the vow renewal and anniversary party we attended this weekend, my friend Sam said that he'd had two goals in life: to outlive his father, and to live long enough to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary. He achieved both, and better than he could ever have imagined; he still loves to just hold his wife's hand, she still takes his breath away.


Orange said...

I like weddings because they remind me how much I appreciate my marriage and what the promise of marriage really means. We haven't officially renewed our vows, but I do so mentally when sitting through a wedding ceremony.

The last wedding I saw was an English civil ceremony. The most beautiful part of the vows: "I will be there for you when you need me most." I think that goes to the heart of what marriage is more than the pat "in sickness and in health" line.

ccw said...

Very well said.

It's always special to see a couple that are truly in love and happy after all their years together. I'm never inspired by a lenghty marriage but the touch of a hand, the twinkle in an eye, that kind of stuff gets me every time.

Sarahlynn said...

Orange, others' wedding are always poignant for me, too. And I agree with you about the "when you need me most" line also.

CCW, I am inspired by lengthy marriages, but am even more inspired by middle-aged and even elderly people who are obviously still passionate about one another. Especially if it seems out of character.

Camera Obscura said...

Thank you for reminding me. I met my husband 27 years ago today.

We'll have been married 24 years this December.

Redhead Editor said...

It took my breath away to read, "...he still loves to just hold his wife's hand, she still takes his breath away."

We should all be so blessed.

Sarahlynn said...

Congrats, Camera!

RhE, yes, we should!