So, Valentines Day… A day filled with romance. And expectations, and anxiety, broken hearts and overdrawn credits. It’s not (yet?) as big a deal in Sweden as it seems to be in other places – and by other places I guess I mean USA, or at least the tv/movie-image of USA since that’s the one I have most access to… Could be I’m guilty of making false assumptions again?
Today I want to share an example of how great it can be if you let go of the ideas sold to you by others, and instead explore what’s your own, essential wishes.
Some years ago, two things happened. First, I read an article about a couple who had decided to celebrate their marriage by renewing their promises to each other. They went to Thailand with their children, had a ceremony with a local priest and it was very, very romantic. And then Mr Livslevandes noticed that his wedding ring was very worn. In Sweden, the man gets a ring for the engagement as well as the woman, and then the wedding date is added to it at the marriage (while the woman gets a second ring). Mr L works with his hands, in rough environments, and his ring had become thin. The inscriptions on the inside were just shadows. And we were coming up on the 15:th anniversary of our wedding.
So, the idea was born to have a renewal ceremony ourselves. At first, we just kind of bought the concept from the article. To go away somewhere, to have our sons as witnesses to our renewed wows. Thailand was way beyond our budget, but we decided on renting hotelrooms for us and our sons and their girlfriends in Sweden. The idea was a nice dinner, us renewing our promises and exchanging new rings. And then to stay over at the hotel, all of us. We told the sons of our plans, invited them to share the day with us and contacted a hotel to get an estimation of the cost.
We discovered that the cost of booking 3 rooms, one of wich a suite so we had room to socialise, was way more than we had anticipated. It was actually the same as the cost for the week in the sun we had planned for ourselves that year. With our limited resources we couldn’t do both… And that was when we sat down and took a good look at what we really wanted.
We wanted to celebrate our marriage by renewing our promises to each other, definately. We wanted to have new rings to symbolise this new promise. We had wanted our sons to be witnesses – but to be honest, while they had accepted the invitations they didn’t show much interest in our plans. We wanted to do this for us, not for them. So we contacted them again and asked if they would be terribly disappointed if we changed our plans – and they responded that this day was for us, please do whatever we thought best (and showed no signs of disappointement at all). So we cancelled the hotel, and kept thinking.
We both had gold wedding rings inherited from family, just lying in a drawer. We reached out to our siblings and asked if anybody would mind if we used those rings to make our new ones, and when nobody objected we took our worn rings, and the heirlooms, to a goldsmith to make our new ones from. We both sat down and wrote down our new promises to each other, and I printed them out for us to sign.
And then on the day of our 15:th anniversary we went to our cabin by the lake. We were married in March, so it was still winter and we were completely alone out there. We dressed up, and prepared a nice 3-course dinner. And when everything was ready, we began the ceremony. We read our promises out loud to each other, and then signed them. We put our new rings on each others hands. And kissed, toasted, and ate our lovely dinner.
It was the perfect, most romantic ceremony. And we both very much felt that we were promised to each other once again. The signed promises have been framed and hung on the livingroom wall. Our rings now hold 3 dates – our engagement date, our wedding date and the date we renewed our promises to each other. And the fact that the gold from my grandmothers and Mr L’s mothers wedding rings now are a part of ours only add to their value for us.
In retrospect, I’m so happy we did it the way we did. Our cabin by the lake is our favourite place in the world, it was the perfect setting for this cermony. And instead of having our sons and partners politely attending, we were able to focus on ourselves, on our feelings for each other. And have enough money left to take that week in the sun, as our second honeymoon…