When the idea came into my head to write vows, I thought I was crazy. I am 40, single, I've never married, and my last relationship ended a year ago. And I've never been a girl who fantasizes about weddings, bridal parties, or planning the perfect reception. But, for whatever reason, I really wanted to do this. I sat with the idea for a few days, thinking perhaps I should call my therapist instead. But the voice inside wouldn't go away:
Write your vows. Just write them. Who cares? It's not about him. It's about a feeling—a desire for connection—wanting to give and receive love.
A few days later, I wrote my vows. Unlike my normal journaling, which I do in Evernote, I wrote these by hand, sitting by the ocean. My words came out with surprising ease. The writing process was cathartic and beautiful, and I felt oddly complete when I finished. Planning to type them up later that evening, I folded my vows, stuck them in my bag, and went on with my day. The folded paper stayed in my bag for days, untouched and unread. I was suddenly afraid to revisit my promise. And did I really want to digitize my heart? Calling my therapist, Lori, crossed my mind again. I refrained.
Later that week I was out to dinner with my aunt. We were talking about my new house, but my vows were sitting at the edge of my consciousness, and the internal dialogue was overwhelming.
Should I tell her? What will she say? She’ll tell me it's time to move on, and that I should talk to someone. I really need to make an appointment with Lori.
We were mid-conversation when I abruptly paused. "Aunt Julie, I need to tell you something. You're going to think I'm crazy." [Deep breath.] "The other day, I wrote my vows—my wedding vows.” With that, the embarrassing secret was no longer a secret. I felt naked. Preparing myself for judgment, surprise, and concern, trying to minimize the embarrassment, as we do, I rambled on: "Not to my ex, exactly—there are pieces of him in there, and I do miss him—but that's not what it's about. It's about growing together, loving deeply, and vulnerability in relationship."
The next day, I read my vows for the first time since writing them. I typed them into an email, and sent them to my aunt and then my therapist Lori (in that email, I also asked to schedule an appointment). The support and affirmation in their replies humbled me. Both praised the exercise, and the depth, clarity, and candor of my writing. Who knew?
I still think the idea of a single woman writing her vows sounds crazy. It's something you'd see on The Bachelor (gag). But maybe it's not crazy. Putting what we want out into the world is the first step in manifestation—be it what we want in a partner, job, or something else. So, now I'm here. Sharing. This vulnerable part of me wants to be seen and heard and to let the world know love is crazy, beautiful, and abundant—if we allow it to be.
As I sit here and type these words, I am in awe of my courage and unsure of my motives. I have always wanted to be a writer but have never submitted my work. Moreover, I am an introvert, which means I favor anonymity, value my privacy, and dislike large groups. Knowing I am about to share this story, one of my most intimate pieces, is terrifying. Online content is eternal, and there's a legitimate chance this will will be read by hundreds (or thousands) of people. But I have never been so sure, nor wanted to be so bold and fearless. My mantra for this year is, "Show up different," so here goes. My vows, my heart on paper, are below. I hope something in here resonates with you.
From the moment we met I knew there was something special. I was instantly curious but didn't want to acknowledge it. I remember saying to my mom, on more than one occasion, "If he were only older and didn't work with me, he'd be perfect." Your playful smile, confident swagger, boyish innocence—I was immediately intrigued but knew there was more to the story. Over time your depth would surface, revealing an old soul in a young body; wise, steadfast in his beliefs, and surprisingly sensitive. While there's so much more than meets the eye, it was your quick wit and humor that won me over. Not to mention, you're so cute!
Fast-forward several years. It's been a wild ride, full of highs and lows I never could've imagined. Yet here we are today, and I couldn't be happier or more at peace. I don't know what the future holds—nobody does really—but I do know this: I loved you when we first met, and I appreciated you more when we parted ways. To say that I love and appreciate you even more now would be shallow and trite.
The truth is that you split me wide open in the best way possible. And while it was brutal, the richness and beauty in that experience was a divine lesson. Through you I learned what true and unconditional love is. I am not only speaking about my love for you but about my ability to love harder and deeper and to love myself. The way you show up—the way you love and touch me—and the way you hold space for me give me the courage and strength to show up. To be willing and vulnerable in love. With you by my side, the world could fall to pieces but I'd be safe.
You are forever part of me, my greatest joy and accomplishment, and my biggest challenge. You see more in me, and us, than I do. It's terrifying. Yet I have grown to love and trust in your vision, and I want it all. You are my love, my rock, my deepest inspiration, and my best friend.
Today, I take you as my husband. As your wife, I promise to stand by your side, to always love and support you, to communicate honestly, and refrain from judgment. I promise to nurture your passions, to hear your fears, to trust your decisions, and, perhaps most importantly, to never steal your joy. I love and accept you with all my heart and am grateful for your unconditional love, respect, and appreciation of me.
I said earlier you are my greatest accomplishment. This is because you are also my biggest lesson. Love, trust, grace, and a willingness to work, forgive, and go big have brought us here today. It's a winning combination, one we both embody. This is what will support our journey together for years to come.