Once upon a time in a land very close by, there lived a girl – not a princess, a regular girl. This girl was smart and sassy and generous and kind, and her parents raised her to believe that when she grew up, she could be anything she wanted to be if she worked hard and told the truth.
When the girl grew up and became a woman, she discovered that while the world didn’t want what her parents had taught her to be true, she had the ability to move the pieces in her life so that they were. Moving life pieces also required hard work and honesty, but the harder she worked, and the closer she hewed to the truth, the richer the woman became in the quality of her work and the largeness of her friends’ hearts. Every day, the woman tried to remember to be grateful for the many blessings that she had.
There was one thing missing, though, that no amount of work and truth achieved for the woman: a partner. She had business partners, and she had travel buddies, and she had partners in crime, but the woman didn’t have what some people call a “life partner.” She preferred to think of this man, because the woman was looking for a man, as someone who would be on her team, who would be fighting in hand-to-hand combat in the trenches with her, and who would have qualities such that the two of them against the world would be unstoppable.
Over the years, she’d met many candidates. Because the candidates seemed perfect on paper or made her laugh, she’d ignore the voice whispering in her head or her heart that he wasn’t quite right. She powered through, changing what she thought were minor aspects of her life to make room for these unsuitable men. Lucky for her, these dalliances never lasted, because the men couldn’t be trusted to be on her team or to fight in the trenches, and they didn’t have the qualities that she lacked that would make them unstoppable in their quest for world domination.
Then the woman started to notice that the same thing was happening to many of her friends. These fellow Amazons would find men that spoke to their hearts, and then ignore the whispering that followed. The Amazons would offer to change minor and even major parts of their lives in order to ensure that they could live their lives with the men in their hearts. The Amazons changed the lengths or the colors of their hair; they supported teams in sports about which they didn’t care but learned enough to impress many; and they contemplated moving from one side of the country to the other. The men in the Amazons’ hearts, though, would demur: “I can’t take care of you the way that you deserve.”
The first dozen times the woman heard this, directly and indirectly, it surprised her, and then she felt embarrassed – had the parents of her world made a mistake in teaching her and her sisters to work hard and to be true to themselves? Would they have had better luck in finding their teammates if they had pretended to be less independent and less encumbered with opinions?
After many years of doubt, the woman got mad. The woman’s fury that the world seemed to be full of men who think that the women in their lives are not women but princesses, and not even real princesses, like Kate Middleton, who have obligations to their subjects, but old-fashioned Disney princesses, who only have to maintain their lovely, cartoon hair. What she and her sisters wanted to say to all these men was this, knowing the men wouldn’t understand and that most of them would be scared:
We don’t want you to take care of us. We can take care of ourselves. What we want, what we need, is someone whom we can count on to be at our sides in the heat of battle, who will never betray the secrets that we share just before the sun rises, and who will never let us be surprised by an attack on a blind spot.
The woman and her sisters didn’t learn how to fight for themselves and support themselves all through the years just so they could drop their armor for an army of Disney princes who chose to ignore what the women said and did in favor of the inadvertent indoctrination of a cartoon mouse.
So the woman decided to continue her quest to work hard and to be honest and to find a man who will not just be content but proud beyond the telling of it to stand at her side and take on the world. And if the woman doesn’t find that man… well, there’s always whisky.
These are Deanna and I’s wedding vows. This made me think of how we had to do some real wordsmithing to adapt traditional vows to something that captured the spirit of partnership (esp I’m the second para), and maybe even battle, that we wanted in our marriage and that you’ve captured very eloquently here.
Deanna, I choose you
To be my lifelong partner,
My lover, and best friend
I will always be loyal to you
And be at your side
I will laugh with you in times of joy
And comfort you in times of sorrow
Wherever our path leads us,
It will take us together
I will be patient and understanding,
And I will be the person who sees the best in you.
I will encourage you, support you
And approach our life with strength and ambition
I’ll never forget that we’re here to be happy
And I’ll strive for the adventures we both want in life.
I promise you the best of me,
My respect and devotion,
As we enrich each others’ lives and grow older and wiser together
I love you and chose you above all others to share my life with
I remember that your wedding vows made me cry years ago. Thanks for sharing these beautiful words here. Marriages like yours give me hope.