I can tell you that my goal in writing my vows was to make them personal and meaningful to Ben and me but to not lay out all of our intimate, personal feelings in front of everyone. There are some things that are too precious to share with the world and I wasn't out to prove to anyone that I absolutely love Ben more than anything...I think I show that quite enough. I mean, more than one person has said "BARF" to me in reaction to me being all lovey over Ben so...yeah. From what Ben told me, his goal was to match me in emotional intensity (neither too much nor too little), and to make sure that he communicated to me how special I am to him. I believe we both succeeded.
These were taken by our friend Amanda "Hug n' Kiss" Hoffman, the lovely lady of our friend Michelle "Michalba" Alba. Thank you Hug n' Kiss!
When I was a very young boy I thought love was expressed by power ballads and movie tropes. I thought that it was a portal one was required to pass through in order to receive kissing and hand-holding privileges. I thought it was a context where a person demonstrated, perpetually, how cool they were for whomever was lucky enough to accept their proposal of devotion. Recognizing a perfect love-candidate, it seemed to me, was a test passed by the initiated and that once you had it in your grasp things would proceed like a kind of clockwork that was somehow immune to wearing down if chosen right. This set of ideas stayed in place for longer than one would think.
When I came to Oregon I was looking for an opportunity to start fresh and avoid old patterns. I was willing to subvert my intuitions and be more disciplined about how I would interact with other people I didn't just wanted to act good. I wanted to BE good.
Around this time of reaching out and building a new community, I met you. You were immediately recognizable as the genuine article. Your priorities were unorthodox in a way that intrigued me from the start. All of the things I had hoped for from my interactions with another human being, in my best moments, were (and are now), present in you. I didn't want to spoil it by assuming anything about what our connected to each other would be. I struggled to behave externally in a way that betrayed my inner excitement. None of the period spent waiting was in vain because it gave us each the opportunity to build trust and a new vocabulary for interaction with one another. This period in time was when I felt like I had graduated to become a full person; I am better in every way because of you. You taught me what unselfconscious, sincere and true love was because I suddenly didn't care about looking cool, defining anything in reference to my self or mastering some imagined challenge; I cared about you and your happiness. I was willing to do whatever would improve or enhance your chances of joy in this world.
From that happy moment forward all my choices have included that primary concern. I want to put you first because you do that for everyone else, including me. You are the kind, open, inquisitive, empathetic, joyful, hopeful, diplomatic ideal that I've always striven toward in my own efforts at personal development. To me, you represent what the world, and our life in it, can be when stripped of prejudice and with consistent expression of the utmost concern for those around us. That kind of honest, selfless love for others strips away conceit and humbles me in a way that I am continually grateful for . You are the finest person I've ever met and I am overwhelmed by my good fortune every day that I'm lucky enough to spend in your company.
I am of the belief that we only have one lifetime to experience all that the universe has to offer; I want to spend that lifetime with you. Through you I have come to understand that to love someone fully is to be vulnerable, to have that vulnerability treated with the highest regard and reciprocated. We trust each other and give each other space to explore what new opportunities life affords. Yours is the face I most want to see each and every day regardless of the tenor of my circumstances. I love you more than anything in this world, LindseyAnne, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to demonstrate that fact every day, from this moment forward, for as long as I live.
I don't believe in soul mates...but that doesn't stop me from feeling like I was made to be with you.
I don't believe it's a good idea to feel that another person complete you...but that doesn't stop me from feeling that you've made my life whole.
I never believed that I would marry someone that would treat me with the level of kindness, patience and boundless affection that you show me every day. I am so grateful and often overwhelmed by how much you love me. I always feel wrapped up in your love and I treasure it more than anything. Thank you for loving me so much, in the way that you do. I feel honored and blessed that you love me and that you choose to be with me.
I love you. I love you as deep and as wide and as high as my soul can reach. I love you to the level of every day's most quiet need. I love you freely, I love you purely. I love you with a passion put to use in my old griefs and with my childhood's faith. I love you with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of my whole life. For as long as I live, I will love you with all that I am.
Side Note for Those Who May Not Know: That last paragraph is actually a (very) slight reinterpretation of Sonnet 43 of the Sonnets from the Portuguese series written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It gets riffed on in pop culture a lot (it's the one that starts "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."), but no one ever seems to pay attention to the rest of the poem which is unfortunate because it is so incredibly beautiful. It resonates with me on more than one level and perfectly encompasses some of the ways that I love Ben.
Ben: I promise to love you.
Lindsey: I promise to love you.
B: I promise to hold you anytime you ask and even when you don't.
L: I promise to kiss you as much as possible.
B: I promise not to make you watch the Star Wars trilogy with me more than one time a year.
L: I promise to tell you when I'm upset and not hold it all in.
B: I promise to sometimes just listen without trying to solve what's wrong.
L: I promise to be faithful and devoted to you.
B: To take time for just us, with no drawing.
L: To take care of you and hold you up when you need it.
B: To cuddle you more than I cuddle our cats.
L: To give each new game you buy at least 2 tries before I decide if it's not for me.
B: To work hard on shutting the drawers and cabinets.
L: To play music and sing with you.
B: To make up silly songs for you.
L: To try new things.
B: To be less anxious about money when fun is possible by spending a bit of it.
L: To be happy and to endeavor to bring you happiness and ease your worries.
B: To be encouraging regarding new ventures.
L: To scratch your back when asked nicely.
B: To keep my displays of affection context appropriate.
L: To be a united front when we have children.
B: To parent our children as an equal with you.
L: To be the best person I can be so that we can always be great together.
B: To give you room to grow as we get old together.
L: To trust in you and believe in you.
B: To take trips and go on adventures with you.
L: To always let you be you, even if it is sometimes a challenge.
B: To not demand evidence when it is about feelings.
L: To be loyal to you, to protect you and to never let the sun go down without resolution and peace.
B: To never go to bed without kissing you and telling you that I love you.
L: To create a safe haven for you in our home.
B: I promise to be your husband.
L: I promise to be your wife.
This is the only studio recorded version of this song I can find online. I kind of love that it has Spanish subtitles.