“From now until forever, I promise I will care for you. I will always support you. I will laugh with you. I will be patient with you. I will make lots of silly faces. I will not walk away from an argument. I will continually try to know you better. I will open my whole heart to you and give you all of the love I have to give.”
Nearly one and a half years ago, I spoke these words to Mr. Whale during our wedding. They are the meat of my vows. The rest of the words are just build up, the lead in to the promises I wanted to make to Mr. Whale.
So more than a year out from our big day, how are the Blue Whales doing at living up to our vows? Let’s take them one by one.
I will care for you.
What does it mean to “care” for someone? Does it mean you take care of them when they’re sick? Does it mean you make them sandwiches? Right off the bat, we’ve got a tough one. It’s hard to live up to your vows when you’re not even sure what it means. But what I think it means for me is that I will try to anticipate Mr. Whale’s needs in the same way I anticipate my own. And sometimes I need to put his needs above my own.
Mr. Whale is finishing up his Ph.D. right now (woot woot!). And I reeeeeeally want him to be finished. I want to have weekends where we don’t have a dissertation hanging over our heads, where doing anything fun means Mr. Whale isn’t working on his dissertation. But it’s not my dissertation. And I can’t magically make it go away. So as much as I want to say, “Just finish it already!”, I have to remember that what my husband needs now is not another advisor. He needs a wife. He needs someone who will listen to the frustrating roadblocks he ran into today. He needs someone who won’t give him a hard time when he takes the day off, because it’s just too much right now.
And let me tell you, it’s tough. But it’s important. I have a feeling this one will always be hard work.
I will support you.
I think one could read this as, “I will always support you.” But I need to see it more like, “I will always support you.”
I am an independent woman. Before getting married, I was always looking out for number one: ME. But being married is an entirely different game. Now, I’m looking out for us as a team. And that is hard. Seriously, it’s reeeeeally hard for me.
There is no issue where I can say, “That’s your problem, not mine.” If it’s Mr. Whale’s problem, it’s my problem.
My biggest problem is with being supportive and not always trying to fix things. I hear that a lot of men are “fixers”. A woman tells a man a problem, and he tries to fix it instead of just listening. Well, it’s not just men. I am exactly this way. If you tell me problem, I try to find a way to fix it. Or worse, I tell you what you should have done to avoid problem in the first place. Gah! Frustrating, right? Well, at least I know it’s my problem, and I’m working on it. Next.
I will laugh with you.
Holla! This one is easy peasy! It sounded good in my vows, so now I can say that we are totally succeeding with this one.
I will be patient with you.
Okay, wow. I was pretty ambitious with these vows. At least I gave myself enough work to do so that it will take a lifetime to accomplish all these things.
Confession: I forgot that this was in my vows! I haven’t thought about it since I said the words. I’ll put this one on my to-do list…
I will make lots of silly faces.
I will not walk away from an argument.
This is actually one that I have been very actively working on. When I get angry, I walk away. And it drives Mr. Whale craaaaaaazy. At this point in time, I’d say I actually succeed in not walking away about 50% of the time. Progress, people!
I will continually try to know you better.
This part of my vows was actually driven by discussions I had with Mr. Whale. Always knowing each other better is a mutual goal of ours. Mr. Whale promised his own version of this in his vows:
“I’ve often said that I think of love as an act, not a feeling. To me, love is two people making a map of a new mind from the pieces of each. We’ve had a good start on our map, but there are still so many pieces left inside only one of us. I want finishing that map to be a mutual goal of our life together. Let’s turn all of our pieces into a single whole. I promise not to hide pieces, or force them, or bend them. I promise to try my best to be kind and considerate and supportive, especially during the hardest parts, like those pesky sky pieces that all look the same.”
Of all the vows, I think this one is the hardest. Because there are days when you just want to come home and tune out. And why spend time getting to know your husband when you can do it tomorrow? Besides, you already know him pretty well.
Well, life goes on after you’re married. And people change. Mr. Whale has friends and interests that he didn’t have when we got married. I’ve changed a lot too. And it’s easy to take your marriage for granted. But I don’t want to let that happen. So we try to know each other better, as often as possible.
I will open my whole heart to you and give you all of the love I have to give.
Earlier on in my life, it was a struggle for me to open up. I didn’t want to be vulnerable. But Mr. Whale has made it easy for me to love him. So I’d say this one has still been easy. I opened my heart, and it’s still wide open.
Do you still think of your vows? Are there any parts you struggle with?