I was given the great honor of presenting the following speech (minus a few editing changes to hide the identities of said individuals) back in 2009 for one of my friends from college. It’s an opportunity that I never thought I would get in my life and I wanted to do the best job that I could. After weeks of trying to figure out what I wanted to say, I finally came up with the following speech. Half a decade later there is very little I would change and my words resonate to me today just as much as they did back then.
To the bride and groom, I wish you a happy anniversary now and forever.
Yes I need something to read off of. I am a writer, not public speaker so this helps calm the nerves of being up here.
I’ve known [Groom] for 12 years; I can’t just call him [Groom], so bear with me, either [Groom] or [Groom] Duck as my daughter affectionately named him when she was around 2 years old.
I am an ironic person to be giving this speech given my own personal circumstances but these circumstances make me a perfect candidate for what I will be saying today as I have had a lot of time to think and reflect. As many of you know, I am a stats freak (I got my love of numbers from my father, love of cards from my grandfather) so I decided that would be the focus of my speech. For my speech I have 10 pieces of advice for the newlyweds on 3 topics: relationships, parenting, life. Bear with me because this is pretty long and it’s all serious. It’s not a roast, there’s no yucks, no humor, no jokes as the only type of humor I can do (and none too well) is sarcasm which usually comes off as obnoxious. Drama and writing is what I do better than most, so I went the serious route for my speech.
NUMBER 1. Respect & trust are the essential foundation of any successful relationship, not just romantic. A house is only as strong as its foundation and because [Groom] & [Bride] have a strong foundation, their house will be sturdy and able to withstand time.
2. You can’t change people; people can only change THEMSELVES. Compromise in small areas is fine and expected, but you can’t (and shouldn’t) lose the person that YOU are. Whether it’s [Groom] with golfing, bowling, games with me or [Bride] with country music or going out with the girls, the person that you are today is the person the other fell in love with. DON’T lose who YOU are. Make sure that you don’t leave your past friends or life behind now that you are married. You CAN love your partner while keeping YOU intact. While you should love yourself, you didn’t fall in love WITH yourself… those unique qualities are what make the person you love special.
Relationships take WORK!! NUMBER 3. This is something I never really understood. Things like date nights are something I didn’t realize the importance of but now I understand. Planned events and nights out aren’t cheesy or cliché things to do. When LIFE becomes overpowering, having SET times planned out where you make time for each other helps keep the glue of the relationship intact. Never stop WORKING at your relationship… the key word is WORK WORK WORK WORK
4. Loyalty is of the utmost importance. ALWAYS be able to count on each other, always be loyal, always be the rock that you can both turn to and count on no matter what. In poker ([Groom] you knew I had to throw a poker analogy in there) there is something called variance which is just a way of saying that there will be ups and downs in the game over time. In life, variance exists just as much. Even when times are so good you never think about the bad, the bad will come. THIS is the time when you find out who are your real friends, who really loves you, who REALLY cares. The sad reality is that you will find that list of people who really care is very short. It’s easy to be there when times are good, very hard when times are bad. Be there for your partner at these times MORE THAN ANY OTHER. You need to be able to depend on each other at THESE times so when everything turns to crap, you can always count on one another.
5. Communication is essential. Don’t let issues fester. Talk things through and come to a conclusion quickly before issues get out of control. Let the words “I’m sorry”, “I was wrong”, and “you were right” be something you aren’t afraid to say.
6. You can NEVER say I love you enough. You can never give enough hugs; you can never give enough affection to remind the other person that they are important to YOU. Make these actions a focal point of reminding the ones you love that you still feel the same way.
6 pieces of advice down, 4 to go, the next topic being…
I can summarize parenting into 1 single list item. I believe that kids need 3 things more than anything else in life: TIME… AFFECTION… POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT (in that order).
Everything else is fluff in the long run (and I do mean everything). Let your children know you are proud of them and SPEND time with them. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are spending time. Even a walk around the block can be quality time.
It’s really that simple.
The best piece of advice I ever got in my life was: PICK. YOUR. BATTLES.
Choose your words carefully and make sure there is a good reason for every action that you take and do. If a particular action or comeback doesn’t feel like it’s worth doing, don’t bother. Save your ‘ammunition’ for another day. PICK. YOUR. BATTLES.
9. Anyone know who Jim Valvano was?
He was the head coach of the North Carolina State 1983 NCAA men’s basketball championship team. In 1993 he was dying of cancer and he gave an emotional speech at the first annual ESPN ESPY awards. Only months after he gave this speech he passed away but I would like to read a short excerpt from that speech:
“I’m a very emotional, passionate man. I can’t help it. We hug, we kiss, we love. And when people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week; you’re going to have something special.”
Is that good advice or what? Laugh. Think. Cry. Add love in there and isn’t that what life is essentially all about?
Finally NUMBER 10. Follow your gut in life, it’s rarely wrong and even when logic says to do something else, your gut should take precedence. LISTEN to your gut…
As a lifelong card player there is only way I could end my speech, and it’s 2 simple words for [Groom] & [Bride], 2 of the best words ever put together…
GIVE IT UP FOR [Groom] & [Bride]!!!