We had planned to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in Paris. It would have been a blast but the Great Recession forced us to scale back our plans. We ended up celebrating in downtown Chicago, “The Paris of the Midwest.” We vowed to go to France for our 40th.

So we renewed our passports and booked our flights and hotel rooms to celebrate our anniversary on July 11. This time, finances weren’t a problem. The pandemic, however, prompted European countries to ban American tourists.

It looks like we’ll be celebrating our anniversary in New Buffalo, Michigan. There’s nothing wrong with that. Strolling a Lake Michigan beach can be just as romantic as walking along the Seine. However, I also wanted us to renew our vows. I was fortunate to find them in a drawer.

“I, John, take you Diane to be my soulmate and the light of my life for as long as I live.”

“I, Diane, take you, John, to be my life partner and the center of my universe.”

“I promise you, Diane, to cook all the meals, if you promise to clean the kitchen.”

“I will take care of the laundry, John, and never want to catch you near the washing machine.”

“In the event we have children, Diane, I promise to never help with the kids late at night or early in the morning, so that I can be well-rested and a good provider for the family.”

“In the event we have children, John, I will never yell at them for playing basketball in the basement, football in the living room, or soccer in the kitchen.”

“Diane, I will never buy you an appliance as a gift. I will also refrain from buying you clothes and will only purchase jewelry you have pre-approved.”

“John, I will continue to buy you polyester shirts until disco runs its course. I will then buy you western shirts, skinny jeans and boots for your ‘urban cowboy’ phase.”

“I promise to never use the silent treatment as a weapon, Diane, and will always loudly express my feelings.”

“If we do have a disagreement, John, I will avoid the use of words like ‘never’ and ‘always’ because those kinds of statements are rarely true.”

“I will buy us a large house, Diane, and promise not to attempt any home repairs. You can trust me with cutting the grass, watering the flowers and taking out the garbage, but that’s about it.”

“I will cuddle late at night, John, and take care of all financial matters, including filing the taxes.”

“Diane, I will continue to exaggerate my stories, spout misinformation and make really dumb jokes.”

“I will pretend to be interested in your stories, John, and I will chuckle politely at your jokes.”

“I pledge my support, Diane, in sickness and in health, especially if you pity me when I only have a cold.”

“I will stick with you, John, during good financial times and bad. I will never tell you to get a real job just because you’re self-employed.”

“From this day forward, I will stick with you, Diane, because you have really good health insurance.”

“John, I read that 48 percent of marriages end within 20 years but I’m betting we’ll be together more than twice that long. It won’t seem that long, though, assuming you’re not home for lunch.”

“Diane, you will have kisses for lunch and kisses for dinner. If you’re still hungry, we can order Chinese.”

“Don’t go changing, John, to try and please me. You never let me down before.”

“Diane, I’ll take you just the way you are.”

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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