Eight years ago we were married on City Island - A Slice of New York City Paradise. A year earlier I asked Yirong to marry me at the local NYC beach during the annual July Fourth Fireworks celebrations and extravaganza.
While planning our wedding we agreed to make this pledge to one another:
To never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take each other for granted. When we decided to get married, we promised each other that we would OWN EACH OTHER's HEART and would fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure we will ever be entrusted with. WE CHOSE EACH OTHER and we’ll never forget it, or get lazy with love.
WE’LL PROTECT OUR OWN HEARTS. Just as we’re committed to being the protector of each other, we must also guard our own with the same vigilance. We will love ourselves fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in our hearts where no one must enter except us. We will keep that space for each other and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.
TO STAY IN LOVE. We will evolve and adjust. We’re not going to be the same people years from now that we are today. The change will come, and in that, we have to re-choose each other every day. WE MUST WORK TO STAY TOGETHER, and if we don’t take care of each other, who else will. We will always try to stay in passionate love just as we did when we were dating.
TO SEE THE BEST in each other. Focus only on what we love about each other. What we focus on will expand. If we focus on what bothers us, all we will see is reasons to be upset. If we focus on what we love, we can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where we can no longer see anything but love, and we know without a doubt that we’ll be the luckiest spouses on earth because we have the most amazing life partner.
IT’S NOT OUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX one another… our job is to love each other with no expectation of changing one another. And when we change, love what we become, whether it’s what you wanted or not.
TO TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for our own emotions: We are responsible for finding our own happiness, and through that our joy will spill over into our relationship and our love.
TO NEVER BLAME… If WE get frustrated or angry, it is only because it is triggering something inside. These are OUR emotions and our responsibility. When we feel those feelings take time to look within and understand what it is inside that is asking to be healed.
TO SHARE our feelings. When there is sadness or one of us is upset, we will HOLD each other and say it’s going to be OK.
TO LISTEN to each other and show that we’re the most important person to one other and we are the pillars on which the other can always lean. Spirits may change and emotions will roll in and out, but we'll remain strong and non-judging.
WE WON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN one is upset. We will stand present and strong and let the other know we aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what the other is really saying behind the words and emotion.
LET US BOTH ACT SILLY… and never take ourselves so damn seriously. Laugh. And make each other laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.
WE’LL FILL OUR SOULS EVERY DAY… Learn the language of love and the specific ways each other feels is very important, should be validated and CHERISHED.
We’ll create a list of THINGS that make each other feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority every day to make one another feel extremely special.
TO BE THERE FOR THE OTHER. Give each other our time, our focus, our attention, and our souls. Do what it takes to BE together as ONE.
TO SHARE OUR SEXUALITY; to consume and devour each other with all of our strength, and to penetrate the deepest levels of our beings into softness trusting each other fully.
TO GIVE EACH OTHER SPACE… The good SPOUSE is good at giving and taking and sometimes will need to be reminded to take time to nurture one another. SOMETIMES there will be a need to fly from our own branches to go and find what feeds the soul, and if we allow that space they will return with new songs to sing…
TO BE VULNERABLE… we don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share our fears and feelings, and be quick to acknowledge our mistakes. Especially those things we don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open our hearts and let the other in when we don't know the other will find... Part of that courage is allowing our partner to love completely, our darkness as well as our light. DROP THE MASK… or we will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.
TO KEEP GROWING TOGETHER… The stagnant pond dries up, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when a muscle stops working, just as it is if we stop working on our relationship.
TO NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY. Money is a means to find ways to work together as a team and to spend it. It never helps when teammates fight. Let us find ways to leverage both person's strengths to earn.
TO FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let our history hold us hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either one of us makes, is like a heavy anchor to our marriage and will hold us back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.
ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. This is the only rule we need. If this is the guiding principle through which all our choices are governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of our marriage. Love endures.
A MARRIAGE isn’t about Happily ever after. It’s about work and a strong commitment to growing together and as well as a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure for eternity. Through that work, happiness will follow.
Marriage is real life that brings ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and choosing to learn from and embrace each experience will give us strength and perspective to keep on building each day.