An open source wedding- Part 1 vows

I’ve been married to Geoffrey Miller, just over a year. Our first anniversary was November 29th, 2020. In this first year we honeymooned in China, Indonesia and Singapore, locked down together, gave talks together, renovated and sold a house together and took a road trip from New Mexico to the East Coast where we are now. We figured out a lot about each other and how to live together.

This is first blog I’ll write about our wedding. We were inspired to share by our friends Eben Pagan and Annie Lala, who wanted their wedding to be “open source” and posted their extraordinary vows online.

Read more to find out why two weirdos like us would get married and read our vows (Geoffrey also posted them on Twitter).

Why did you get married?

Our relationship isn’t traditional (although it was nearly monogamous in 2020!). So, many people have asked why bother having a wedding or getting married at all?

I think that romantic love and pair bonding are natural expressions of human nature, that they would emerge again and again without being seeded by any existing culture. Even though romantic relationships are a “natural kind”, relationship parameters are flexible enough that couples can design some aspects of their relationships. Our concept was adjacent to popular rationalist concepts like Chesterton’s fence, or “weirdness points” – if you’re going to do something unusual, you shouldn’t change all the parameters at once, you should anchor that endeavor with something traditional, even if you don’t know exactly how or why it works.

Throughout history and across cultures, one of the most consistent ways that societies nurtured romantic attachment, encouraged couples to stay together, and promoted relationship harmony has been with weddings. A few smart people I admire encouraged me to get married. When I was considering a wedding, one anecdote kept coming to mind. An anthropologist who mentored me for many years mentioned that he had a wedding mostly to make his adopted daughter feel more stable in her family. He didn’t think it was going to improve or change his romantic relationship but, as he put it, “the ritual really works”. Many people who are similar to me told me that the wedding had a good and stabilizing effect on their relationships. Now that we’re wed, I agree. Although, like them, I don’t know if I could describe exactly how or why it worked – it seems like weddings, like all rituals, are one of those things that work better if you don’t think too much about how they work.

When social scientists talk about weddings and relationships, there are often signficant confounding factors. For example, the higher divorce rate among couples who cohabit before marriage is more due to these couples being more liberal and willing to divorce when things get bad, not because cohabiting somehow degrades relationship longevity. But, there is something about bringing your families and friends together and publicly committing to another person that both strengthens and legitimizes relationships. You could see this all as a complex way of rationalizing having a big party and wearing a pwetty dwess – but I honestly never fantasized about having a wedding and I really did not enjoy planning it. But! We are so happy we got married.

The Vows

We wrote our own vows with some ideas from Eben and Annie’s vows. Geoffrey wanted something that incorporated our shared values and individual interests, from scientific curiosity and effective altruism to vipassana meditation and self-improvement. So without further I do (see what I did there?) here they are.

Marriage Vows, to be read by Geoffrey and Diana

Together:

We are grateful for all that led to this moment

Geoffrey:

We are grateful to this universe that sparked life,

and that sustains the evolution of endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful.

Diana:

We are grateful for the millions of years our ancestors struggled and succeeded – in surviving, finding loving mates, and lovingly raising children – generation after generation.

Geoffrey:

We are grateful for the thousands of years our ancestors worked to build our magnificent civilization,

with its arts and sciences, its enlightenment and ethics, its peace, prosperity, and progress.

Diana:

The chance of either one of us existing was infinitesimal, but here we are, together.

Geoffrey:

We were born into loving families

Diana:

We have found good friends.

Together

We are grateful to be here together on this day, in a world filled with joy, humor, song, delight, companionship, and community.

Geoffrey’s vows:

I, Geoffrey, take you, Diana, to be my wife, and these things I vow to you:

I vow to protect your life with my life, and your well-being with all my strength, wisdom, and love.

I vow to nurture your health, success, creativity, and freedom.

Whatever paths you pursue, I will stay by your side; whatever challenges you face, I will face with you.

I vow to build a relationship that embraces both solitude and closeness, both challenge and comfort – a garden big enough for us both to grow.

Bring me your honest, open heart, and I will always offer you mine.

I vow to build a relationship that’s more than a connection between our separate selves.

I vow to build a relationship that’s a comforting home, a vivifying adventure, a sacred mission, an inspiring example, and a foundation for our shared future.

I will be a fortress for your safety, and a paradise for your playfulness.

I vow to sustain my health, build my strength, and lengthen my life through nutritious food, active exercise, restful sleep, and good habits.

I vow to sustain my resilience through self-restraint, mindfulness, and gratitude.

I vow to stay open-minded and curious, to keep seeking knowledge and wisdom – to bring light and truth into our home.

I vow to treat your family as my own, and to stay committed to their health, happiness, and growth.

Your kin are my kin; your friends are my friends.

Through every doubt, every argument, every wound, and every challenge, I will faithfully find my way back to you, and reconnect my heart to yours.

I will endeavor to transform our arguments into growth, our misunderstandings into insight, and our conflicts into renewed commitments

I vow to love you as fully, beautifully, and consciously as I can, with warmth, humor, patience, and forgiveness.

Geoffrey reading vows to Diana

Diana’s vows:

I, Diana, take you, Geoffrey, to be my husband, and these things I vow to you.

I vow to protect your life with my life, and your well-being with all my strength, wisdom, and love.

I vow to nurture your health, success, creativity, and freedom.

Whatever paths you pursue, I will stay by your side; whatever challenges you face, I will face with you.

I vow to build a relationship that embraces both solitude and closeness, both challenge and comfort – a garden big enough for us both to grow.

Bring me your honest, open heart, and I will always offer you mine.

I vow to build a relationship that’s more than a connection between our separate selves.

I vow to build a relationship that’s a comforting home, a vivifying adventure, a sacred mission, an inspiring example, and a foundation for our shared future.

I will be a fortress for your safety, and a paradise for your playfulness.

I vow to sustain my health, build my strength, and lengthen my life through nutritious food, active exercise, restful sleep, and good habits.

I vow to sustain my resilience through self-restraint, mindfulness, and gratitude.

I vow to stay open-minded and curious, to keep seeking knowledge and wisdom, to bring light and truth into our home.

I vow to treat your family as my own, and to stay committed to their health, happiness, and growth.

Your kin are my kin; your friends are my friends.

Through every doubt, every argument, every wound, and every challenge, I will faithfully find my way back to you, and reconnect my heart to yours.

I will endeavor to transform our arguments into growth, our misunderstandings into insight, and our conflicts into renewed commitments

I vow to love you as fully, beautifully, and consciously as I can, with warmth, humor, patience, and forgiveness.

Together:
Our love is not just ours.

Geoffrey:
We dedicate our love to our future selves, our future family, and
the flourishing of our species.

Diana:
We dedicate our happiness to the well-being of all sentient life,
from this day to the distant future, from the Earth to the stars.

Geoffrey: [puts ring on Diana’s finger]:
With this ring, I take you as my wife.

Diana: [puts ring on Geoffrey’s finger]:
With this ring, I take you as my husband.

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