Ten trips around the sun.
One entire decade.
Three thousand six hundred and fifty two days.
A whole helluva lot of minutes.
Except for a few trips apart from one another and bathroom time, Tina and I spend almost every waking hour together for the last 10 years.
In a day inspired by our grandparents, Tina and I got married on August 8, 2008. Tina’s grandfather was named August. He was like a father to Tina, and she loved him dearly. My maternal grandparents showed me that marriage was truly about getting old together and taking care of each other as the body ages …
August 8 was a mild day in Chicago. Mid 70s. A group of our closest friends and family surrounded us. Tina’s then therapist was our officiant.
On August 8, we exchanged rings with each other on the steps of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and said our heartfelt, personally written vows to each other with emotion, love, hope, tears, and laughter.
We celebrated love, completely secularly, surrounded by art, inspiration, amazing food and drinks. It was awesome.
Marriage has been the single most important decision of my life. Tina is my dream, my best friend, my confidant, my biggest fan, my heart, my everything.
I’m lucky. Lottery lucky. I won many lotteries in my life. I was born in the United States. Lottery win. I was adopted by amazing parents. Lottery win. I successfully work as a photographer and filmmaker. Lottery win. I married Tina. Jackpot!
I’m not waiting until I’m retired to spend time with her. I’m not hiding behind the idea that we will have “eternity” together. I’m a now kind of guy. I don’t want to reintroduce myself to a stranger who I’ve slept with for eons. I want to love Tina now. I’m a big fan of falling in love again and again. I’m a huge proponent of the bond of marriage, of the importance of marriage, of the sacrificial ideology of it, but the saving grace of it as well.
Tina’s my sounding board. She helps me find equilibrium.
What I love about her is that she sings when she’s alone. She brings positive energy to every situation. She oozes fun and happiness. She scratches my back at night. She loves to read. She loves to give and she loves to travel.
Everyone I know loves her.
Half the time I think people like me because they want to spend more time with her.
If I had one piece of advice, based on my understanding of marriage, it’s to pursue marriage as if it’s not permanent. It’s not forever. It could break. It could become divorce. If you (or me) think that marriage is some kind of unbreakable contract, you’re wrong. There are limits to how one can treat another person. One thing I think the church gets wrong about marriage is declaring the idea of “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
That’s bullshit. That creates a false positivity. It creates an impossible unconditional “love” rather than true love.
At any time, Tina could leave me. And I could leave her. This is the reality. If I think I have carte blanche to do or behave any way I want and still expect Tina to stick around, I’d be poorly mistaken. If I cheated on her with another woman, I would expect that she’d drop me in a second.
And you know what? The threat of loss is a driving force for excellence. The idea that we are free is what creates our success. Freedom is that. I’m free to do whatever I want, but I have to know there are repercussions for acting “free.”