Ask Team Practical: Renewing Our Vows


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Renewing Our Vows | A Practical Wedding

I really want to remarry my husband but I don’t know quite how to accomplish it and could use some advice.

I didn’t love my wedding. In fact I kind of hated it. Although the ceremony was hands down the BEST part of my wedding, I remember almost none of it (other than vague good feelings) and honestly, it wasn’t until a few months after the wedding that I was able to really feel committed and like I had truly pledged my life to my husband. I want to be able to marry the love of my life when I’m feeling so much more in love and calmer than I was able to be on our wedding day.

I’ve thought about going to the JP, but that feels too formal and odd, as we’re already legally married. We were originally married by my husband’s best friend who did an amazing job, but he lives in another state, wouldn’t be available for our anniversary, plus in a weird way, part of what I want is the freedom to say to my husband all the things I couldn’t say in front of other people on our wedding day. I know he’d like the same opportunity. I want it to feel legit and sincere which is why I’m questioning whether going off by ourselves and doing it would make it as real as I want. Besides which—where do we go? Just stand in our tiny apartment surrounded by toy poodles barking and try to do it? We live in a city so while woods and parks are readily available, it feels weird to go someplace in public to do this too.

In essence, I feel like what I’m really asking about is intimacy. How does an intimacy-challenged couple working hard on breaking down walls and self-protections, bare their hearts for each other in a safe environment, without having to do it at home? I plan on doing this every year we’re married (he’s agreed), and I’m sure each year it will become easier to tell my husband how I feel about him, no matter who’s around. But this first year feels even scarier than the wedding, so venue and how to do it is definitely throwing me for a loop.

—Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Whew, lady, you’re asking so many different questions here, I don’t even know where to start.

First off, not loving your wedding sucks. But if the links at the bottom of this post are any indication, you’re not alone (I seriously get emails about that very topic every week). Like I’ve said before, I’m all for replacing bad memories with good, while you wait for those bad ones to fade and grow funny with age. You hate looking back on your wedding? Sure, replace that thought with a happy memory of running off to a park to whisper secret thoughts to each other. Lovely.

But, what you don’t need is a vow renewal. Even though you wish you could have a wedding do-over, you don’t need to re-do the whole getting married part of it. That part (which you, luckily, said was nice) is already done and taken care of. The vows are still awesome and valid and yours, even if the crap surrounding them wasn’t. You made a promise, and that promise still stands. This isn’t a lease; you bought the house. You don’t need to re-sign annually.

I think it’s just awesome that you feel even more in love and even more solidly grounded in commitment, but you know? Ideally you’ll feel that way every year. (Ideally. Let’s be frank, there’ll be some years that you won’t feel anything but, “What was I thinking?”) The more time passes, the more shared experiences you’ll have, the more ups and downs you’ll share, the more you’ll grow together, learn about each other, and experience the back and forth of hurt and forgiveness and love. I loved my husband a ton when we married four years ago (that’s, uh, why we got married). But holy crap, since then we’ve experienced loss and regret and doing without and having a kid and medical issues and familial issues… Compared to what we have between us now, what I felt before we married does seem pretty baseless. And I can’t imagine how what we have now will compare to what we would have in fifty years. So, maybe you do have things you’d like to say to him. But there’s no need to re-promise, “No, this time foreals.”

Not only will you (hopefully) grow together every year, but every year will also find you in a different place in life, a different place in your relationship. Maybe this year, what you really need is to put some words to how this past year has impacted your relationship and how you view it. But, that might not be the case next year. Something altogether different might be a better reflection of where your relationship stands and what best celebrates it.

Besides all that, my hope for you is that saying this stuff out loud to each other will be old hat by your next anniversary, not something worth celebrating. Vow renewal doesn’t need to happen annually, but communication does need to happen daily. The line between, “I promise” and “I love you” can feel sort of blurred and indistinguishable when we’re talking about weddings and marriage. But the difference is, “I promise” lasts until you say, “I don’t promise any more.” You don’t need to keep reiterating, “Still promise!” Whereas you do need to reiterate,  “Hey, I love you,” very often. I hear you saying you just want to know how to get started on talking about this stuff, and I guess your anniversary is as good a time as any. But please don’t wait till that anniversary every year to talk about it again. It’s great that you’re acknowledging that things need to be said, and that you’re trying to build a habit to ease you into saying them, but that habit needs to be more than once every twelve months.

So for this anniversary, sure, maybe find a special place to talk. While technically “public,” a picnic in the park, or a snug coffee shop, or a fancy dinner can offer enough privacy for the exchange of some important thoughts. Personally, I think if you’re not used to sharing how you feel, The Time to Say Things might make you feel more uncomfortable than just saying them. Rather than wait till anniversary night, in a specific place at a specific time, with the knowledge of what’s coming bubbling up into anxious anticipation, it might be easier to just surprise him over dinner one night after work and say, “Hey. I’ve been thinking about how much I love you.” That’s a ritual you can repeat as often as you want.

*****

Team Practical, have you considered renewing your vows? How do you make sure that you’re communicating the important, intimate thoughts in your marriage?

Photo by APW sponsor Lisa Wiseman.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Laura C

    I have friends who renewed their vows on their 25th anniversary, and one of the reasons they did it was because even 25 years later they still didn’t love their wedding! It had been very controlled by the mother of the bride, she limited the groom’s side guests to 75 while they joke that she must have dropped invitations from a helicopter for the bride’s side, they didn’t get anything to eat, etc. So for their 25th they went with their best friends to Hawaii and had an amazing vacation and renewed their vows, which I’ve always thought was a lovely thing and is clearly, 10+ years later, still a memory they go back to often and cherish.

    But that’s all I got, because I’m still waiting to vow at all. Formally. Informally I vow all the time.

  • Liz

    Great advice…You could also start a tradition of writing each other anniversary letters. Obviously not to replace talking openly about your feelings, but if you want something that feels more…formal. Plus letters are not a moment in time, you can reread them whenever and look back on them on your 50th anniversary :)

    • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

      I love this idea! I was going to suggest writing writing a letter to either the other person or yourself a year earlier. (Does that make sense? Like, on your first anniversary you’d write a letter to yourself on your wedding day. Second anniversary you’d write to you on the first anniversary and so on.) I’ve found that writing in this manner can be so helpful and such a lovely way to reflect on the year gone by. It allows you to examine all the good and bad things from the past year and show your younger, less-wise self a little compassion and humor and to remind yourself to be grateful for everything you have now. And reading letters out loud is super romantic and can be great for people who aren’t always comfortable expressing themselves. Annnd I second the idea of doing said reading some place that feels right and making a mini special event of it…it’s an anniversary after all! So whether your celebrate with a day in the park breakfast in bed at a nice hotel, I think making it feel special can add another level of romance and intimacy to sharing these words.

      • KW

        I have a *much* easier time writing letters and such when I want to say the deep things than I do saying them in person. We had a long-distance relationship at first. In the 2nd year, when he was trying to find a job that would move him to my city, I started a journal in July. I wrote in it most days, silly stuff, serious stuff, deep stuff, even some raunchy stuff. I gave it to him that Christmas as part of his gift, and during those months he finally got the job that moved him here (we drove cross-country just after Christmas). It gave him a peek into my daily world that even our nightly Skype conversations didn’t do.

    • Anonymous Advice Seeker

      OP here, thank you both for these great ideas. I don’t know why I didn’t consider letters, but Rachel’s suggestion to read them aloud to each other is maybe the most perfect idea so thank you so much!

    • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

      My husband and I totally do this!
      We keep all of them together in a special box. I wholeheartedly recommend annieversary letters. :)

    • adria

      Yes to the letters! I’m terrible at just saying what I want to say, how I want to say it. But writing it down – by hand, in a card or just on a piece of paper (NO E-MAIL!) – comes much more naturally.

      We actually started this prior to our wedding when our Cantor had us write a letter to each other to be opened on our ten year anniversary.

      And it doesn’t have to be vow-y or promise-y. It can be a recap of what you loved from the year, what you’d rather not repeat in life, what you want for the next year or for years to come, what you hope to experience with your partner, etc.

      As for easing into a more intimate communicative relationship with your partner…I found that starting small helps. I grew up in a house that was much more “we know we love each other” than “we say “i love you” all the time”, so this was hard for me. But with my husband, I started small. Telling him I love him, telling him that I’m thankful for x, y, z…even the small things like “Thanks for wiping down the counters after dinner”….I found that it grows from there. You need to find your base and then expand on it.

      • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

        We have those letters. Tucked away in a little box. Only 7 and a bit more years till we open them :) Of course, we also made the provision that if we came to a point where we were thinking about divorce / separation, we were to open them and read them then instead. So, really, they are a plea to our future selves to remember what we really loved about each other, what made us decide to marry in the first place.
        I’m totally going to add another letter in there this November.

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        We made a time capsule on our first anniversary to be opened on our tenth. I know letters to each other are in there. I can’t wait to open them.

    • Cass

      This is something that was recommended to my husband and I when we were doing pre-marital courses at our church. Although we were in a large group to write our letters, we shared what we wrote privately with our partners. Some people were moved to the point of tears while writing, and it was very touching. I’m not quite so sentimental, but it can be very powerful to share thoughts and emotions in writing.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.ca/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      We did this tradition, and I really loved it.

  • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

    My partner and I aren’t big romantic moment people, so when we have Important Feelings to share, most of the time it happens organically (and nearly always with a drink in hand), at the bar when we were first dating, walking home from a date when we were figuring out what happens post-graduation, laying in bed together, etc. Sometimes, when I have things I really want to say to him, it’s a more formal, “Please sit here with me, so I can tell you something I’ve been thinking about.” And then, more occasionally, we write nice romantic things in birthday cards or emails. He wrote me a love letter on my birthday this year, which I still have on my desk to look at whenever I want. It made me cry on my birthday, which I jokingly chided him for.

    Personally, I’m a fan of making professions of feelings when you feel them. Often when I’m waiting or planning the perfect moment, the moment isn’t what I wanted it to be, and then I’m distracted from the feeling-sharing.

  • Jack

    My almost-in-laws renew their vows with the closest friends and family every five years– a church service with a pastor they love followed by a big meal. I love that. It reminds me of the way I, as a pastor, think about baptismal vows. We don’t know what we’re getting into when we say them (or people say them on our behalf), and we don’t ever fully know. But renewing them is a way of reminding ourselves and reflecting on how we’ve grown into them.

  • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

    You might want to consider writing each other a letter for your anniversary. I’m not sure how you feel about writing, but I find writing to be a really safe space for sorting out my feelings. You have the time you need to consider exactly what you want to say. You could start a new tradition, even, of writing a letter to each other every year. You could share letters with each other at home or in a park or someplace special/beautiful/quiet, and then you could run off to a fancy dinner to celebrate your love.

    My husband and I wrote our own vows, and the other night, I was feeling anxious about The Future (honeymoon was over, returning to work), and I picked up his vows, which were sitting on my bedside table and I read them to myself before sleep. It was so special, for me, to be able to re-read those words again, in a time of need.

    I think Liz’s point, about communicating your love every day, is really important. I think the reason people are often disappointed by their wedding is because of the pressure that everything must be JUST SO. And inevitably, it is not. Be careful not to turn your anniversary into another day that needs to be perfect in order to prove/demonstrate/articulate your love; just celebrate the love you are living every single day.

  • Kate

    My parents, some years on their anniversary, go to a quiet spot in a restaurant and read each other their vows. They both cry like babies.

    • http://writemeg.com Megan

      That is so, so lovely.

      • Shiri

        Oh, man. Amazing. I love this and want to do this so badly.

        And, god, I wish my parents still loved each other that much.

  • Whitney

    I feel like the main theme of this question was rules and expectations.

    I’m hearing:
    “I was suppose to love my wedding”
    “I was suppose to be the most in love with my husband on my wedding day”
    “The best way to express our commitment is though a vowel renewal (even though this is so not us)”

    Man. That is a lot of rules for something as individual and hard as being married. The best way for you to be married, is the way you’re doing it. How lucky are you to me MORE in love with your person now than you use to be! I know that’s my goal. Hating your wedding, not being into PDA, and loving him more each day is the perfect way for you guys to be.

    Now, wanting more intimacy is a great goal, too. Maybe that looks like “Naked Saturday”. Maybe it looks like a picnic in the park while reading some letters you guys wrote for each other about your experience of being married so far. It can look like however you want!

    And guess what. Maybe this anniversary may be shitty, too. But you’ll be sad, but OK. B/c the next day is a new day, and it’s another day that you guys are putting in the hard work of trying to grow old together.

    • catherine

      LOVE this response! :)

    • http://raisingthedough.wordpress.com Marina

      THIS. It sucks that you didn’t like your wedding as much as you wanted to, but that’s not going to be solved by putting the same pressure on a different day. I think you’re RIGHT to feel scared about it. You feel scared because you want it to be perfect and you can’t figure out how to make it perfect, and, you know, it’s probably not going to be perfect.

      Intimacy isn’t a one-day, do it and check it off activity. Practice saying what you want to say to your husband today. Maybe it won’t feel right. Say it again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. Practice finding space, amidst the toy poodles and the mess of daily life, to feel intimate and open. Those are the moments that end up feeling real.

  • Alison O

    I agree with Liz’s focus on making this kind of intimacy a frequent, not annual, endeavor.

    “it wasn’t until a few months after the wedding that I was able to really feel committed and like I had truly pledged my life to my husband. I want to be able to marry the love of my life when I’m feeling so much more in love and calmer than I was able to be on our wedding day.”

    The thing is, in your case, it may be BECAUSE you got married that you were able to feel that level of commitment and love and calm. So maybe you’re wedding, warts and all, served its purpose beautifully, more than you realize.

    • Alison O

      That said, my other thought was, it can be really nice to take a nearby or faraway, short or long vacation with your sweetie to get away from the daily grind and reconnect. Even if it’s just camping or a night at a nice hotel close to home. :-)

    • Anonymous Advice Seeker

      P.S. “The thing is, in your case, it may be BECAUSE you got married that you were able to feel that level of commitment and love and calm. So maybe you’re wedding, warts and all, served its purpose beautifully, more than you realize.”

      Spot on, friend. Spot freaking on. I realized this a while ago and boy did it make me feel less guilty about how I felt on my wedding day. I love when people get their insight right and yours is that. Thank you!

    • Alison O

      (and I meant your, not you’re…*English major cringe*…)

  • Meaghan W

    This sounds like a good opportunity for a small destination “elopement” someplace beautiful. I know resorts have these.

  • emma

    I just finished reading The Five Languages of Love. Seemed like a cheesy book but it was a quick read that hit home. My husband and I don’t need love the same way. I need Words of Affirmation (“I love you”, “I miss you”, “You’re Awesome Because”, “You’re killin it at work”) those things make his hands clammy and head spin, just like his love language, Touch, makes me mentally and physically spastic. We need to work on this.

    It sounds like your love language is Words of Affirmation…maybe so is your husbands, maybe not. (HINT: what you give out is usually what you NEED and vice versa. How does he innately express love?). I completely agree with Liz – learn to do this daily, without much thought. It’s what you need to fuel your soul and strengthen your marriage so when the tough times come and some things (like maybe random love notes) get put on the back burner you can ride it out and pick life back up, instead of underlying issues (you never tell me I’m a kicka$$ wife) don’t come up….been there, done that!

  • catherine

    i love reading posts that talk honestly about relationships, about the ebbs and flows, and about the reality of marriage – that it’s not a concrete being. that it’s a moving, flowing, evolving, up and down thing, that as Meg said in her last post- you create everyday.

    i also love how liz said “some years it’ll be ‘what was i thinking??’ “- love it. honesty.

    • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

      I just found this quote I love that relates to what you’re saying here: “Love doesn’t sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all of the time, made new.” -Ursula K. Le Guin

      It’s been a good reminder to me. The love I felt for him on our wedding day is not the love I feel for him today. Both are wonderful, but I like today’s better.

      • catherine

        Aw, I love it, thank you!

        And yes, I get so excited to see realistic and healthy marriage/relationship examples/articles/information in the mainstream…if what people want is “hollywood love” …well how many hollywood couples last anyway?? hehe

  • Heather

    I agree that you don’t need to re-do getting married. And it sounds like you might be building way too much expectation into this “renewal” which might lead to yet another disappointment. I love the idea of finding ways to incorporate things you wished you could have had at the wedding into future events (I plan to get the big tiered cake I couldn’t afford at some future anniversary party). I also love the idea of a ritual or symbolic gesture to help you create a special moment for just the two of you. Maybe think about when you met or when you were dating and find a location that has some meaning for you. When my husband and I were dating we had our first kiss on a bench overlooking a beautiful valley while we were on a hike. Now, every time we see a bench in a beautiful spot we sit down, tell each other how much we love each other and kiss. We tell each other we love each other every day, but somehow a bench in a scenic spot makes the moment a little more special because of our history.

  • Cupcake

    I am in the minority in that I eloped and had a private ceremony in a public place where my husband and I “married” ourselves (exchanged vows and rings) and then had a JP come by our apartment to do the legal paperwork when we got back. So my perspective on this is likely to be different, and if you don’t care for it, Anonymous, I won’t be offended in the slightest. But I wanted to share it with you because you seem to have put a lot of thought into this and are struggling a bit (this blog has certainly helped me with some of my struggles, good place to turn!).

    When I read the letter I had this heartfelt desire to share with you the feeling of the intimate moment that my husband I had. Not to share the actual moment, that is ours, but that feeling was one of the best of my life and I think you’d appreciate feeling it too. I also find it difficult to share intimacy, and for us, traveling someplace that wasn’t home was important to mark the occasion as special and different. You don’t have to travel far, but I wouldn’t do it in your apartment with all the daily life distractions that are present. A city park could work if you know of a spot that is a little more private. One thing that is very intimate, if you do decide to renew your vows, is writing them yourselves and exchanging them privately. Using your own words, that you know just the other person will hear, can be rather liberating if you know you understand each other well (like, there are some things that your husband gets about you in ways no one else does). But if renewing your vows feels too forced, and not really what you want to be doing as a couple, don’t make yourself do it just because it is an option. And the letter writing idea that some people have mentioned is a good suggestion too, similar in intimacy to writing your own vows I would think!

    Good luck!

    • Anonymous Advice Seeker

      Thank you! I think you understood me the best and this advice is amazing and wonderful. I agree doing it at home with daily life (and tiny poodles) distracting us would lessen the feeling I’m looking for. Thank you so much, for your kind words and advice!

  • Anonymous Advice Seeker

    OP here and thank you so much to everyone for their time and trouble and most of all guidance! Everyone has given such thoughtful and honestly in my opinion great advice. Unfortunately there seems to be a misunderstanding so I thought I’d clear it up.

    I don’t want to re-do my wedding. I never felt my wedding should be perfect – it was in fact a thousand times LESS horrible than I’d anticipated it being but I still would never want to do it again. So no worries love doves, I’m not trying to recreate or create something perfect – I don’t believe in perfect.

    Liz and everyone gave such good advice but I’m a little surprised that Liz and several others are telling me I don’t need to renew my vows. I know I don’t NEED to. I WANT to. I want to promise again and again. I believe in making promises over and over. Maybe this is the whole languages of love thing I’ve just never been able to get myself to stop being judgmental about enough to read it. Maybe my language is words. I don’t know. I just know what I want. What would make me feel good, is to marry him again. Which to me means making promises and saying the tough but beautiful things that live in my heart that I couldn’t/didn’t get the chance to say at our wedding. It seems like the idea of writing each other letters would be perfect so I’m so grateful to those who suggested it and especially Rachel for the idea of reading them aloud to each other. It’s like the best of both worlds – time to gather your thoughts and phrase them just the way you want, but adds in the lovely idea you still get to hear your person say those words they wrote to you – kind of like wedding vows – amiright?

    One thing Liz advised and others echoed is the idea to not put intimacy off for only once a year. Sage advice Liz, thank you for that. We’re working on it currently, very hard to be honest and it’s scary and terribly uncomfortable and there’s a lot of fighting. But there’s also lots of making up and reassuring and soothing and more closeness which is awesome. As someone who’s had little to no experience with intimacy in my many years here on this earth, I’d love to see APW encourage a conversation about this nebulous and slippery subject that means different things to different people. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in being a novice and advice and encouragement when learning new things is always helpful. Thank you so much APW for being a place where we can come to ask for advice without judgment.

    • M.E.

      I just want to jump in quickly to say that, whether or not it will help you in this specific situation, I was SUPER judgmental about the Five Love Languages, but decided to read it to see if it could help keep my relationship strong. I found it incredibly helpful. I skipped the “exercises” and just read for the ideas/framework for thinking about love, and I really do recommend it. (I am a words person, fiance is acts of kindness).

      Best of luck & love to you.

      • SamanthaNichole

        I think this is REALLY important to know about your partner and for them to know about you – The Love Languages – because you could spend forever trying to give love in the way you like to receive it but if that is not your partners love language than they are not going to feel loved at all!

      • Anonymous Advice Seeker

        You’ve convinced me ladies. As soon as I’m done reading Tiny Beautiful Things, my last APW recommended book, I’ll give it a go.

  • Oakland Sarah

    “How does an intimacy-challenged couple working hard on breaking down walls and self-protections, bare their hearts for each other in a safe environment, without having to do it at home?”

    I know you asked specifically for how to do this *not* at home, but because you mentioned that you’re working hard on breaking down walls and self-protections, I thought you might like this cool thing that I came across: https://make-tea.squarespace.com/

    It was developed by a student at Stanford in the Education, Technology, and something masters program and is supposed to be a way to help couples develop better connection with one another. It looks really cool and easy.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    Beautifully said.

    Last year I wrote my husband one love note a week, on index cards so they had to be short. It was a great way to put in words some of the things I might have not said throughout the year. The fun part was then hiding them in different spots each week and waiting for him to find them.

  • Thought

    Two words, OP: HOTEL ROOM. If you can afford it, the hubs and I always have good conversations (and great sex) in nice hotel rooms. It would give you a private venue, but one that feels like a *special* place (i.e. not your home with your dogs). If I were you, I’d book a nice(ish) hotel in your town or nearby, order room service, and renew your vows in bathrobes (preferably with a jet tub nearby). I second the idea that while everyday intimacy is great, having a special time to reconnect (through vows, sharing of emotions, letters, what have you) is always a good idea.

    Good luck!

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      We tried that and ended up having to leave in the middle of the night to go to the hospital to have a baby. I might hold it over this child’s head forever. The breakfast at that hotel is awesome.

  • Charis

    Hmmmm… I’m not sure that I actually agree here, I think it might be good to renew your vows, it sounds like it could be kind of cathartic for you both.
    It wasn’t like you had an amazing ceremony, then the caterers burnt the food, or your Aunt Annie fell ill, or your DJ sucked, it was like the big part of your day felt off to you. Well the most important part really!

    I think maybe if you thought about all the reasons why it didn’t feel right, and try eliminating possiblities for renewals on the basis of those, then you’d have a good place to start. Was the setting too grand? Did it have a special meaning to you? The guests too many? Just the too many nerves?

    Do you have any ideas how you would make it different?

    Usually people who have a wedding with guests are doing so to involve the people around them in their relationship- they see your promise, the support you, the share your joy, give you a kick u the ass etc. and if you feel like renewing your vows again with people could make you feel more connected with your husband then maybe you should invite those closest to you too, rather than doing it alone.

    Just my initial ideas, I might be wayyyyy off the mark here haha!

    • Charis

      There are like a million typos in this post and the edit button is refusing to work. My sincerest apologies!

  • Newtie

    I always thought renewing one’s vows was only done if the vows had been broken. Hence “renew.” This seems not to be the general understanding here, though?

    On our anniversary, my partner and I talked about ways the other person had fulfilled their vows in the past year. I liked doing this because it was reflective and it allowed us to articulate what we appreciate about the other person.

  • L

    Oh wow, Liz, thank you so much. My husband and I have had an insanely tough summer that almost resulted in divorce. We have battled back and while we are nowhere close to awesome, we are behaving more like a team everyday. Intimacy-challenged definitely describes both of us. And in a story that is probably not uncommon these days, we thought a 6 year relationship meant we had marriage in the bag. Until we very, very much didn’t.

    Long story short, our two year wedding anniversary is coming up in two weeks, and I’ve been thinking about the appropriate way to celebrate. How do you celebrate the worst year of your life? I mean, I know we should celebrate making it this far at all, but it’s very different than the “yay, us!” feeling of anniversaries past. A vow renewal felt overwrought to me, so while my question was different than the OP’s, your answer spoke to my question so, so much. Thank you.

  • Anonymous book worm

    Can I just say that I thought the best part of ‘Cutting for Stone’ was when Hema says to Ghosh that she will marry him but only for one year, so every year on their anniversary he reasks her to marry him. So cute, although maybe not the most practical in real life.

  • Mercedes

    I’m surprised, too, that so many are dismissive of the idea of a vow renewal. What I’m hearing in the original post is 1) a longing for intimacy that can be expressed verbally , and 2) a desire for a ritual that addresses that commitment. A private vow renewal seems a lovely way to achieve those goals. (after all – just like a wedding, YOU decide what a vow renewal looks like for you)

    A vacation could be one option. Start out with a lovely evening in a bed and breakfast, and read each other your letters or vows in a quiet space – your room, a hot tub under the stars, a garden or park. Then allow yourselves to explore your new commitment as you explore a new city or new landscape together, a sort of mini honeymoon. Build in a little bit of alone time, as well as a special meal together, every day of the vacation ( introverts desperately need some alone time – intimacy doesn’t mean spending every minute together). Also build in one physically intimate experience like a couple’s massage, an evening with a private hot tub, etc. Finally, if you don’t love every experience on the vacation, it’s ok, It’s how you deal with each experience and communicate that matters.