Sunday, July 3, 2011


July 2, 2004, 6:00 AM
We just closed on our new place in Porter Square, Cambridge. The 900 square-foot condo on Regent Street feels bigger than it is. The south-side of the centuries-old row house is lined with windows and there's no hallway, just a big open space with bedrooms at either end. There's a master bedroom at the back, and two smaller bedrooms at the front (one of which I'm pretty sure used to be a closet).

Iris's dad and his girlfriend are in the master bedroom, Paul (Iris' would-have-been boyfriend from the Netherlands) is in the second one, Joann from Denmark is in the third. Doing the math, that leaves zero bedrooms for Iris and me, so we're sleeping on an air-mattress in old our old penthouse (i.e., on the top floor) apartment overlooking the Charles; the lease isn't up for another month and the air-mattress is in fact the only article of furniture in the apartment.

Tomorrow's the big day! I open my eyes and look at Iris. She opens hers and says, "Time to get up?"

"Yup! Time to get up."

Three minutes later, we're out the door driving to Brueger's to pick up bagels for our guests and grab a few moments together before the day rushes in. The rest of the day is a blur of activity: trips to and from the airport (people are arriving from all over the world), buying sundry party accouterments at BJ's Wholesale Club, touching base with the band (a group of street musicians we ran across one day in Harvard Square), dropping by the VFW hall to make sure that the tent arrived, ordering more chicken and ribs from Red Bones (although we invited fifty, looks like we're gonna get closer to seventy-five), and answering a steady stream of phone calls.

After the rehearsal dinner, we head back to our empty apartment which is now lined with suitcase, backpacks, sleeping bags, matts, and ten additional friends who'll be staying with us.

5:30 AM, July 3, 2004.
Iris and I slip out of the apartment and head down Mike's Pastry on Hanover Street in the North End. We load the car with cannoli, boconnotti, pasticiotti and other Italian delights. I drop Iris off at Regent Street to do all those things brides do before their wedding and head back to apartment to coordinate the crew. John, you're responsible for the PA. Megna, you've got the food and drinks. Nate you've got tables and chairs.

Miraculously, everything comes together.

The guy who marries us is this really sweet Buddhist justice of the peace from Arlington. The music starts, he invites everyone to stand and we all turn to see as Iris and her dad step from around the corner of the VFW hall. Her dad flew from Amsterdam to do two things: 1) walk Iris down the aisle and 2) answer the question "Who gives this woman away?" Although Iris is not exactly someone who could be given away, she's delighted that her dad is so excited to do so.

As I watch Iris and her dad approach, I'm overwhelmed with a deep sense of gratitude and love. They make it down the aisle and her dad blurts out, "I do!", even before the justice of the peace can complete the question.

Everyone takes their seats and the justice of the peace begins...

We have come to this special place today to celebrate the marriage of Mark and Iris, and to reflect upon their love. Mark and Iris have been given the great opportunity to chose loving each other, and on this day Mark and Iris proclaim their love for each other by freely choosing to spend their lives together and becoming wed.

You'll notice I didn't say, "falling in love". Mark and Iris consider that a "victim's" approach to love. Instead, they see themselves as deliberate lovers who are fully responsible for their actions.

I myself admit that I learned a lot about relationships during the short time I spent with Mark and Iris.

I typically meet with couples that are interested to be married, and in talking to Mark and Iris I learned how powerful love can be when it is tempered and strengthened by recognizing the choices involved in ownership over your own emotions. I sincerely hope that Mark and Iris continue to inspire others who may be in relationships to value the emotional responsibility involved in addition to the sharing of emotions between partners.

In marriage, we find the opportunity to for new choices every day: the opportunity to love or not love, the opportunity to be grateful or not be grateful, the opportunity to be happy or unhappy.

In fact, marriage is something that we can grow or diminish by the choices we make.

Marriages don't become strong on their own and they don't fall apart on their own. They're a result of our choosing daily to love, to be grateful for and to be happy with our partner.

A great benefit of this approach to marriage is that, by daily choosing to grow our love for one person, we increase our capacity for love in general. We become expert lovers. By choosing to grow our gratitude for one person, we become grateful for people in general. By choosing to be increasingly happy with one person, we become happier with everyone. This approach to marriage can transform us into people who are happier, healthier and more fun to be with.

5:30 AM, July 3, 2011
That was seven years ago today. It's still working.

Happy Sunday,

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! Thanks for the reminder of the choice, not just remain in love, but to grow in love.


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