Last Saturday, my beloved and I celebrated our twenty years together with a Vow Renewal ceremony. To share this beautiful expression of love with our dearest friends has been one of the highlights of our lives. To be held in the heart of a community sharing their love is priceless.
Here are a few pics from the day, followed by the vows we shared during our ceremony.
My Vows to Paul: I am so grateful that we are gathered here with our friends and family, on this amazing day, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of our first kiss. Ours is a lifelong journey, and today is but a moment. Twenty years ago, our separate lives become one in the course of one evening.
Paul, loving you is so easy. It always has been. You’re so kind, caring and funny. You’ve never, not once, been unkind to me. My welfare and well-being is always uppermost in your words and your actions. I have always felt nothing less that supremely well loved by you.
Husbands are often considered to be providers. You provide me with emotional honesty and are never scared to show me your feelings. You provide me with a marriage that is sacred, beautiful, safe and deeply loving.
You provide me with daily humour, and hugs and kisses. You provide me with companionship, even if it’s one in the morning and I can’t sleep. In my life before you, the men I dated told me that I made them ‘think too much’. You’ve never accused me of that. Thank you.
For the past twenty years I have wondered what on earth I have done to deserve you and your quiet, steady and reliable love. I know nothing I’ve done in this lifetime warrants the huge blessing you are to me. You have made my life, and every day, together, we continue to create a marriage that I treasure. All these years later, and I still pinch myself and wonder ‘why me’?
My only complaint is that you didn’t come into my life until I was 27 years old! That was a long time to wait. In our next life, get a move on!
I still marvel at how quickly we settled into each other’s hearts. We didn’t know each other, yet to me it was like we’d always known each other. It was so easy, and so right and comfortable. Instantly, I knew there was no other place in this world that I wanted to be other than in your arms for as long as the Universe would give me. That we’ve been blessed to share all these years is no small miracle.
I love that my heart still skips a beat when I see you walk into the room, and how I melt like a teenage girl when you smile at me.
I often joke that I had to kiss a lot of toads before I met my Prince Charming. And it’s true. But maybe that’s why I knew you were different from all the other boys.
With you, I felt at home. I knew you would always be gentle with my heart. For two decades you have loved, nurtured and tended me.
You have loved me in sickness and health, and I sure have spent a lot of time in bed racked with back pain. You were there throughout it all, loving me, caring for me even when there wasn’t really anything you could do to ease my pain and discomfort. Thank you. Thank you for never turning your back on me.
Being your wife has liberated me, and healed me in ways that no other healing modality on the planet could have done. Your depth of compassion, wisdom, understanding and love have been golden keys which have changed my life.
Thank you for always supporting my dreams. Not once have you ever been jealous of my achievements, but instead always cheer me on.
We are here today because of the promises we made a long time ago. They have kept us true and faithful, kind and loving. Honouring the depth of our commitment is a daily joy for me, one for which I always give thanks. One of my great joys is when I wake up each the morning and you’re there, beside me, smiling at me.
So today, before our friends and family, I promise to continue being grateful for your presence in my life.
I promise to cherish our relationship and hold it sacred. You are my best friend: loyal, true, consistent, irreplaceable.
I promise to treat you with respect, kindness, fairness, compassion and love.
I will care and love you in sickness and in health.
It is an honour to grow older with you. Such a privilege.
I would love to think that in ten years we would once again gather with friends and family to celebrate and renew our love. If it doesn’t happen, then I know it will be because those White Wings of Death have indeed scattered our days…but I will also know that our deep and abiding love will indeed live on in the memory of God. And the rich depth of love you have provided me with, day after day, will nourish and nurture me till the end of my days. Don’t ever be in any doubt about that.
I promise to support you in exploring and expressing your creativity, and vow to honour you as you live your vision of a happy and healthy life.
I will endeavour to be your lover, friend and a companion whose presence you enjoy day after day. I hope to inspire you just as you inspire me.
I will give you the time and space and solitude necessary for you to live a healthy and holistic life.
Today, I reaffirm my love and devotion to you, and to this beautiful marriage we have created. I know I am so blessed, and I can promise you, I never take what we have for granted. I treasure every single day that we spend together, whether it’s lying in each other’s arms in bed by candlelight or the way you make me laugh a dozen times a day. I love just hanging out with you, chatting, laughing, playing or even spending time in companionable silence.
Every day, you manage to hug or kiss me at the most random moments, whether it’s in the privacy of our home or in the checkout at Sainsburys. You light up my heart in so many ways.
I treasure the love letters you’ve written me.
I can feel your love in the way you touch me, and in your smile.
Thank you for loving, respecting and honouring me as your wife, as a mother, and as a woman. There isn’t anything in the world as valuable as the love you give me.
With you, there is certainty, clarity and consistency. I can not even comprehend my life without you.
Paul, you are everything to me.
I know how much you love me. That certainty carries me through every day. I feel safe with you. I don’t need to hide. I can be raw and vulnerable and I know you’ll never make fun of my weaknesses. That level of intimacy is at the heart of any healthy marriage. Thank you for giving that to me.
I love you. I adore you. I am grateful for you.
Paul’s vows to me. Bless him, he used the letters of my name! This is a template. He added things as he went along.
V – I’m VERY much in love with you. It didn’t take long for that to happen. In part it was your Vitality. And my love has deepened over the years, and I promise that it will even more… as I mature.
E – You’ve always given me a huge amount of ENCOURAGEMENT. You’ve always believed in me, appreciated me. You’ve laughed at my jokes, usually. And I like to think that I’ve encouraged and supported you. And I’ll be doing that for the rest of my days. And I’ll continue to look out for you, as you look out for me.
R – REMEMBERING …memories. So many good ones. A lot of challenges, but we’ve always stood shoulder to shoulder. From the start I felt we fitted well tog. We see the world through similar-but-different lenses. And we complement each other, like a left eye and a right eye.
O – I know it’s not common knowledge, but I’m a bit OLDER than you. You, Bethany and Eliza have helped keep me young at heart. And as I enter my second childhood, I’ll return the favour – and keep you young at heart.
N – You’ve NURTURED me enormously in the time we’ve been together. And I want to do the same for you, to help you achieve all that you want to in your life.
I – Before we met, when I was 46, I’d taken the first tentative steps along the attachment-parenting path, and everything that goes with it. I even read The Continuum Concept before you! But it was you who INTRODUCED me to all these concepts. And I want to grow with you further along the path we’re on, wherever it takes us.
K – I KNOW that I can’t and couldn’t imagine myself with anyone else. And I’ll say the same thing when we renew our vows in 20 years time.
A – ASTROLOGY It’s in the stars, the planets, the asteroids. We’ll always be together.
If your name had a D in it, I’d promise to continue washing nearly all the dishes. I’m getting quite good at it.
And if it had a W, I’d promise to get even better at hanging out the washing – even though I’m already Olympic standard.