Monday, December 28, 2015

Keeps You on Your Toes

Saturday afternoon, I officiated Dear and Ian's wedding ceremony at Benedict Studio in Bangkok, Thailand. (Saturday morning, Dear and Ian had their Buddhist ceremony.) Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:
This may come as a surprise, but most couples standing before me at moments like these do not describe their first date like this:
Ian - "When she finally said yes to going out with me (the date)... failed epically..."
Dear - "Our first date, to tell you the truth, was a train wreck..."
Wow! And they say Thai FOOD is spicy!

Now, if you know the rest of the story, you know why this happened. Ian received some very bad advice, reminiscent of the advice the all too real fictional corporate boss, Jack Donaghy, on 30 Rock once gave his employees: "Remember everybody, just DON'T be yourselves!" Ian followed this advice, and if not for Dear's friend imploring her to give him another chance, well, I would be back in Texas right now...

Isn't it fascinating how sometimes we think putting our best foot forward means trying to be someone we are not? And, in fact, in most professional situations, it is probably better NOT to be yourself. Jack Donaghy is actually, irony of ironies, totally right! Abiding by certain agreed upon social conventions lubricates our professional lives. I don't put my bare feet on my desk, even though I would really like to, and you show up to work wearing pants. We all conform. It's not a bad trade off!

However, in matters of the heart, this just does not work. In fact, it might be true, that some relationships stumble BECAUSE people don't let down their guard, and shed all masks of pretension, and are comfortable with - this is key - the other person's differences. This means, of course, that you need to know who you are, what you believe in, and where you want to go.

This is an area, where, excluding date number one, Dear and Ian excel. I can hardly think of two people more confident in who they are, than these two, without being over confident. (OK, maybe Ian is a LITTLE over confident, but still...) They both know themselves, their personal areas of strength, and the areas they need to work on.

This enables them to know each other, appreciate each other, and love each other on a very deep level, not only despite, but even due to, their differences. Ian is able to say, "Dear is an extremely unique woman filled with contradictions, frustrations, and happiness..." And, though, as most guys, he is not as complex, her complexity makes him love her even more. Dear is able to say, "Having been with Ian for over 3 years, I have found that Ian has a dog-like personality (this is a compliment though)..." (Pause) OK, I admit, I still don't get that one... Listen to this one, though: "Another characteristic of Ian that makes me love him... is his passion. I have never seen anyone in my life (that) has (such) massive passion... (for everything) they are interested in. He has a passion for politics, his job, and (really) anything he does," and here's the kicker, "which is the exact opposite of me." And that enhances, rather than detracts from her love for him.

And so, Dear and Ian teach us a lesson well worth remembering for our romantic relationships. As Ian puts it, "Since we only have one life, why not spend it with a person that always keeps you on your toes..." Why not indeed...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

When You Call Me

Today I officiated Lauren and Alex's wedding ceremony at Piccolo Mondo in Arlington, Texas. Here is what I said about their Chuppah:

This chuppah is extra special, as it was made by Lauren’s great uncle, Marty and his son, Gary, for Gary’s son Jordan’s wedding. They made it out of cedar and cypress to evoke an ancient custom. We are told that long ago, upon the birth of a daughter, her family would plant a cypress, and upon the birth of a son, his family would plant a cedar. When a couple planned to marry, a branch would be taken from each of their trees to make their chuppah to symbolize their unity.

I was honored to officiate Lauren’s sister, Alex’s wedding to Brian Marques under this very chuppah. Lauren and Alex are honored to continue what has become now a family tradition of marrying under this chuppah, which is fittingly inscribed with the words of the Song of Songs, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

One of the first questions I ask every couple is, "What are your expectations of your wedding?" However, before I even ask the question, I ask the couple to imagine they work in the creative side of an advertising agency. I ask them to imagine they have a marker and a whiteboard, and that they are brainstorming about a new campaign. They are putting whatever words come to mind on the board.

When I thought of Lauren and Alex's relationship, I found myself going through the same exercise. The words and phrases I wrote down were:




Being yourself like you can with no one else

Letting go

OK with being needy

If you think about it, that is not a bad list. Sure, marriage is about love and passion and fireworks, and being swept off your feet. But, really what we are doing when we commit to marriage is so much deeper. The person I am today is not the person I am tomorrow. The same is true with each of us. So, not to discourage any of you, but marriage if not a gamble, it is an educated guess. Now, hopefully, it is a well educated guess, based on solid evidence, but still it is a guess. It is a guess, that I of tomorrow and you of tomorrow will make the same choice we make today.

Do you know what you need, to be able to take that leap of faith? You need to feel safe, and comfortable, like you do with no one else. You need to have the type of trust you have in no one else. These qualities can then allow you to relax, and shed all pretenses, so much so that you can truly be yourself, like you can with no one else. This feeling, which has no equal, can then allow you to do what our hyper competitive American life almost never allows us: to let go, to be vulnerable, to be needy, and to know that your lover is there by your side, through it all. And to know, and to cherish the moments, when you will do the same for him or her.

Now, if you paid attention, you will notice that I just used all of the words from my brainstorming list about Lauren and Alex's relationship. That is no mere coincidence. I believe this is exactly what they have. And I find the idea of this type of relationship beautifully described in the quiet words of Regina Spektor's song, The Call:

"It started out as a feeling, which then grew into a hope. Which then turned into a quiet thought, which then turned into a quiet word. And then that word grew louder and louder, til it was a battle cry: I'll come back when you call me; no need to say good-bye. I'll come back when you call me; no need to say good-bye."