My Vows (And Our Victories)

Craig Gross
Oct 8 · 5 min read

One night, my wife and I were talking about what we should do for our twentieth wedding anniversary.

We decided it’d be fun (and far funnier) to throw a massive celebration for our nineteenth, instead. Who the hell throws a random nineteenth wedding anniversary party?

We had a blast. We invited all of our closest friends to meet us for a few days in Las Vegas, Nevada, told them we’d be hosting a costume contest, and offered the winner $1,000 in one-dollar bills, which we presented to them at dinner, crumpled up inside of an old briefcase.

Goth couples showed up in all black with heads shaved and pentagrams drawn onto their chests, visible beneath Hot Topic fishnet long-sleeves. Donald and Melania Trump impersonators filed into the party bus. A husband and wife in Bad Grandpa costumes hobbled around on walkers borrowed from a nearby nursing home. A rich white guy and his mail-order bride held hands at dinner-a Ron Jeremy impersonator hobbled around the strip, sporting Crocs.

Jeanette and I wore our original wedding clothes-down to Jeanette getting her hair and acrylic nails done the same way.

Before the evening’s end, we renewed our vows atop a stage in a parking lot filled with tiny homes where Tony Hsieh and a group of Zappos executives live, including my friend Krissee, who hosted us there.

What follows are the words I spoke to Jeanette and our guests that night (before we headed back down to Old Vegas, and Grandma and Grandpa started clubbing in their MegaMax diapers).

August 7, 2017

Jeanette,

I’ve recited these vows to you twice now.

The first time, I didn’t understand them. I didn’t know how much they meant. This time, they make a bit more sense.

I could never have imagined how quickly the years between then and now would pass us by.

Nineteen years.

Nineteen years.

Ten different homes. Eight different cities. Three different states.

Funny enough, we’ve begun to dream about moving again. This time? To the beach. We say it will be our last move, but who knows? The memories and miles traveled, and all of the life we’ve lived has only been possible thanks to your willingness to go along with every crazy step we’ve taken together.

We tell our kids that friends will let them down, and family is everything. I’m so glad that we have one another. I’m thankful for the memories we’ve made, and for the memories, we will make with the rest of life that we still get to experience together.

Thank you for being by my side for nineteen years, and for the nineteen that are to come, and beyond.

Thank you for your unwavering support and selflessness.

I haven’t always lead you and our family well, but you have always supported me 100% — in all of this — and for that, I say: thank you.

Your discipline is inspiring, and I love it about you. I tend to cheat, but you stick to anything and everything you commit to, and you don’t cut corners.

I am grateful that even though we often have opposing ideas about how to resolve our differences — even though my approach is sometimes the polar opposite of yours — we still get through it. We always come out on the other side.

I rewatched our wedding video and listened to Arty tell me that everything is my fault.

During the ceremony, he said, “Craig, if Jeanette burns down the kitchen, it is still your fault.”

I think — because he cracked it like a joke — we must not have thought he was serious.

We’ve had our fair share of issues, fights, and differences throughout our nineteen years together. Of those 6,935 days, I’ve spent probably thirty nights out on the couch, and one night in a hotel room when we needed to get away from one another. I wish I would have listened, all those years ago, to that joke. Maybe we could have fought less, and I could have saved us some sexless nights, but this is my promise to you for the years ahead:

I won’t hold you at arm’s length, waiting for an apology. I won’t waste time deferring blame, or insisting on what was your fault.

I will set anger aside and work toward a resolution, and I will begin those conversations with what I have done wrong.

That is my vow to you.

I have some funny stories about you, Jeanette — many just from our most recent vacation. Like how you somehow — immediately — got drunk upon checking into our hotel at 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon while the kids stood there wondering what happened to mom. Or dancing with the Norwegians on our cruise. Or another night (not drunk), where you gave the kids headphones and told them to dig their faces into their devices and keep their heads down because you want to have sex. Somehow, we both finished, too.

Maybe that’s too much information for all of the guests listening to me talk right now?

Speaking of…now onto our friends.

We had a party when we celebrated our tenth anniversary. We told all our friends to do the same. Many of their marriages didn’t make it to ten — let alone another ten on top of that — and only one couple threw a party.

To those of you young ones here tonight: throw a party at ten and celebrate the win.

Hell, celebrate the win each year.

I find that we, as a culture, don’t celebrate the wins anymore.

Your business just did a million dollars. Celebrate it!

You had the best month of your career at work. Celebrate it!

You got sober. Celebrate it!

You have your health. Celebrate it!

Take time to celebrate. Do something special. Make a big deal about it. Stop and appreciate the work it took to get there. Talk about how you did it. Talk about what you want to do next.

I’ve had the lyrics to a song I love stuck in my head all week:

“There is nothing I’ve got when I die that I keep.”

Perspective isn’t about celebrating all the new things you can acquire. Perspective is about celebrating the memories you’ve made with one another. Not on social media. Not on text.

With each other. With your family and with your friends.

Thank you for celebrating this nineteen-year win with me, Jeanette.

And to our friends: we hope this evening gives you a peek into who we are — as people and as partners.

We’ll be looking for invitations to all of your stupid-ass parties soon, and we hope they trump this one. (And even if you don’t throw a party, remember to celebrate the wins — no matter how big or small they are).

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Craig Brain

Craig Brain is not your brain or my brain, but neither must unity be predicated upon uniformity. This is an invitation for you to take a peek inside the gross (pun intended), squishy, alien matter inside of my brain.

Craig Gross

Written by

Craig Brain

Craig Brain is not your brain or my brain, but neither must unity be predicated upon uniformity. This is an invitation for you to take a peek inside the gross (pun intended), squishy, alien matter inside of my brain.

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