It’s been 10 years since Tai and I held hands in front of our family and friends, and said the words, “I do”. That moment formalized something that I already knew for years – that Tai and I would journey through the rest of life together, hand in hand.
A decade of married love later, we are still best friends, still kindred spirits, and still deeply in love. We may have added a couple of kids, a few pounds around the middle, and a lumbering mortgage to the mix, but I still feel the same way with him now as when we first started dating all those years ago in university. I fall in love with him over and over again as he keeps demonstrating his character. Tai encourages me to challenge myself. He supports my different endeavors and schemes, and props me up when I am down. He laughs at my jokes and makes me laugh. He respects all of who I am, even the silly and frivolous sides of me. He is an equal partner in parenting our two girls. He pays attention.
In short, Tai is a shining example to our two girls of what they should expect from any potential suitor in their future. Winning their love should not be easy. And to illustrate this point, I share the following story from our wedding day.
It’s a Chinese wedding tradition for the bride’s side of the wedding party to put the groom through some various obstacles before he can retrieve the bride to marry her. Because the bride is loved too much, her family and friends will not let just anyone cart her off. He must prove his worthiness to be her husband.
My beloved bridesmaids devised a series of challenges. They did not let me in on what their plans were. As Tai and his groomsmen successfully completed each one, my bridesmaids would let them come closer to finding me. One involved trivia questions about me and my friends. Another involved creating and performing a cheerleading stunt along with a cheer. Yet another involved bribes of cash payments in hong bao (red envelopes). Tai and his groomsmen breezed through these with good humour, until the final challenge: eating a package of nattō, or Japanese fermented soy beans.
Tai had never tried eating nattō before. He was quite aware of nattō though, particularly since he helped organize an Amazing Race-style fundraising event the year prior. The eating challenge station, that he manned, consisted of this particular item. I participated in this race with Team Buns on the Run, and Tai was there encouraging me while my teammates and I struggled to eat the stuff. The taste, texture, and smell all combine to be a truly horrible experience for the uninitiated. But he never did try it himself.
Until our wedding day.
The entire time while Tai was going through his challenges, I waited in the bedroom of my parents’ condo, with no idea of what was going on. I could only hear groans and cheers and laughs, and some slightly worrying silence. I stood in the room, pacing the floor in my white wedding dress, with equal parts of boredom, excitement and worry.
Finally there was a big cheer, and Tai burst into the bedroom, a little unsteady on his feet, the wedding party crowding in after him. He gave me a beany kiss, (ugh) and claimed his worthiness to be my husband! My hero vanquished* the nattō beans! Then after a few words, he went off in search of a toothbrush. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the merriment of our family and friends.
Tai, I love you more than my words can adequately describe. I’m so excited to face the next decade with you, hand-in-hand.
*Well, technically he had help from his close friend and groomsman Cort, but details, schmetails.