The day we met was the first time in my life that I thought I would have a heart attack. Your beauty was stunning, but your overall presence was too much for me to handle.
We were young, 17 and 18 years old, but I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. I had never been the kind of person to believe in love at first sight, but I was head-over-heels in love. I knew I loved you before you ever said a word to me.
You hated me at first, but we got to know each other, and you started to feel the same way. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life. I'm tearing up as I think about it.
I wish the story ended there, but getting married young had its challenges. We struggled with getting to know each other and communicating. We struggled with money and my weight issues.
We separated and almost went through a divorce. We called it off and found a way back to each other. As we celebrate 17 years of marriage, there are seven promises I need to make to you. These are my vows for the rest of the time we have on this earth together.
1. I promise to put you first
When we said, "I do," there were vows I made to you. I promised to put you first, but the truth is I haven't. I reaffirm my promise, but this time I will follow through. I will put your needs above my own. I will give you first place in my heart and life.
2. I promise to remember I'm the problem
A wise counselor told us that if you have a problem with your spouse, the problem is with yourself. I know this but have made it seem like you're the problem. Instead of making a big deal about things that won't matter in the grand scheme of things, I'll work through my issues on my own. They aren't major and aren't important.
3. I promise never to cheat on you
I love you more than life itself, and will not allow myself to get to a place that puts me in a situation that leads to infidelity. You have my heart, mind, and body. I will prove my love to you by not sharing them with another. My lips and body are only designed to work with your lips and body; I will keep it that way.
4. I promise to communicate
In the past, I have tried to be "Superman" and keep what I'm dealing with in my business and life to myself. I promise to let you in and get your opinion. Your perspective gets first place, and I will make sure I honor it. I promise not to go to sleep if I haven't communicated adequately.
5. I promise NEVER to get physical with you
You are precious and delicate, and the one thing I can't live without. I promise never to get physical with you. I'm not talking about hitting, I promise to never even make a gesture towards you in anger. I promise to have a better way to deal with my temper.
6. I promise not to be jealous or controlling
In the past, I have struggled with being an insecure, controlling jerk. It's been some time, but I want to reaffirm my commitment to never again fall victim to these tendencies. I will give you the space you need and trust you. You have given me no reason not to.
7. I promise to choose love every day
Over these last 16 years, we have learned first hand that love isn't a feeling. It's a decision. I promise to choose to love every day. I will ignore my feelings, which come and go. I will choose to wake up each day and honor the commitment I made.
I haven't always been the ideal husband--I know that's an understatement. Thank you so much for staying with me. I don't deserve it but thank you for staying. I promise to honor what we've built together. I know words are cheap, so I'll shut up and honor these commitments with action. No more talk, my love will be proven by honoring these seven promises.
This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project.
Photo: Flicker/ Jon Rawlinson