Why Have a Vow Renewal Ceremony?
There are lots of reasons to have a vow renewal sometime in your marriage! That being said, I’ll just tell you why we had ours. For me personally, the 10 year wedding anniversary vow renewal was even more meaningful than our actual wedding ceremony. I know that probably sounds nuts, so let me explain:
My husband, Jake, and I were married at the age of 19, during his first year in college and my first year in the Navy. I knew Jake was my soulmate, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous about getting married! We had no idea what was ahead of us and how much our relationship would be tested. After 10 years, I felt reaffirmed that yes, this is where I want to be, my heart is [still] all in, and we should celebrate that! So Jake and I wrote new vows for each other together, deciding what we wanted to promise each other in our renewed marriage. We invited our closest family and friends to celebrate our recommitment to each other at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and I have to tell you, it remains one of the best days of my life!
Read on to find out what led up to our 10 year wedding anniversary vow renewal ceremony!
How It Started
My husband, Jake, and I met while we were attending Coon Rapids High School in Minnesota. We started dating about a month before we graduated high school in 2008, knowing full well that he was four months away from starting college and I was four months away from starting a six-year contract with the Navy. We were young and in love and convinced that we had found our life partners.
After the summer, we shipped off to our respective commitments, and by the end of the year were both living in Charleston, SC, where I had been assigned to attend military school for at least one year. We married in May 2009 with the support of our family and friends. By November 2009, we were moving again, this time to Upstate New York. In August 2010, we moved to my first permanent duty station in sunny San Diego. Jake enrolled in college to finish his degree, and I went on back-to-back deployments, leaving him to navigate a new place with effectively no support system.
While I was overseas, we were able to communicate by email, and on the rare occasion by satellite phone, but it was tough to be real with each other. Both of us wanted our spouse to think we were managing, nay, thriving, and not to worry. But this was not generally true for either of us. I was in a male-dominated industry, working long hours as an electrician in nuclear power plants, and he was working through his degree program living off-campus and knowing no one in the area while his wife was overseas on a warship.
Rocky Road Ahead
Needless to say, reintegrating after being apart for essentially half our marriage was difficult. Jake had established a routine that worked for him, and I interrupted that in a lot of ways when I returned. It’s not that he didn’t want me there, but after moving four times in the last four years, all one would want is a routine. Anyone who is closely affiliated with a military member knows that there is no such thing as routine in that life, at least not for long. I had also developed my own behaviors and had in some ways become quite hardened by my deployments. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was slipping into depression. This put a major strain on mine and Jake’s relationship, just as we were able to be together again.
We decided I would leave the Navy at the end of my contract and move back home to Minnesota.
We moved into a small apartment in Minneapolis. Jake started working, and I started classes at the University of Minnesota. I thought the stress of the Navy would fade and we‘d be able to seamlessly start anew. But this was not the case. Jake was travelling a lot for work, and I was almost always the oldest student in any given class. I felt so out of place in my new environment. I felt had little in common with my fellow first-year students. In some ways it was even hard to rekindle old friendships that I had left behind six years previously.
I can’t tell you how many breakdowns I had before finally seeking formal help in my junior year. There were so many nights Jake held me as I sobbed uncontrollably while I was unable to articulate what I was feeling and why. I started seeing a therapist every week and even attended group therapy. In retrospect, therapy definitely helped, but at the time I felt like I was treading water at best.
Finding Balance & the Vow Renewal Ceremony
We had found a house and moved to Saint Louis Park in 2015. Like my Navy years, a lot of my college years are now a blur. By spring 2018, I had graduated and started my first full-time job after the Navy. Best of all, I finally had more time to spend with Jake! We were able to be together in the evenings again, now that neither of us had homework and he was travelling much less for work. We were able to make real plans for our future – what did we want to achieve? Where did we see ourselves in the next 5 years?
Our 10 year wedding anniversary was coming up, and I often thought about the internal and external challenges our marriage had faced. I felt so lucky to be with someone who was willing to stick it out with me – who cared enough to keep me going through some VERY dark times.
After talking with him about how I felt, I convinced Jake that we should have a 10 year wedding anniversary vow renewal. It felt like promising a life together at this point meant more than it did when we were 19. We now likely had seen the worst of each other; we knew what we were capable of; we knew that nothing in the universe would convince us that we should not be together; we knew we loved each other more strongly than we could have previously imagined, and that the love we had for each other continued to grow every day.
So in front of our 25 closest friends and family with our two best friends leading the ceremony, we expressed our love for each other, and promised new vows. We got the wedding photos I always wanted and we danced like our whole lives were ahead of us. We celebrated making it through the past 10 years together and the life we were looking forward to.
How It’s Going
That was back in 2019, and I have never regretted it. I look through our photos from that day frequently, and am reminded to support my partner, to communicate with him, and to show my love every day, in whatever small or big way.
We allow ourselves to dream big and I am more excited every day to grow with him. Like many couples (I hope), the COVID-19 pandemic has brought us closer together. We now work with a wall in between us instead of entire cities. We get to go for walks to catch up, dream, and vent at lunch. He supports me and I support him. Sure we still have tiffs, but we are quick to resolve them and evolve. If one of us has a bad day, the other is right there. If one of us has a great day, the other is right there. Marriage has been the most challenging and rewarding part of my life. I have been lucky to have found my person so early in life and to have had the opportunity to grow closer instead of growing apart. I’ll never be sorry for gushing about it!
My wish for anyone reading this is that your relationship gives you strength as mine gives me.
Thank you so much to Jeff Dose Photography for capturing our love so perfectly! Please enjoy the photos of our anniversary, and consider a celebration for a special anniversary of your own! I know I’m looking forward to our next celebration, whenever that is!
Looking for someone to photograph your wedding anniversary vow renewal? I’m here for it!