I was recently called upon to speak at the wedding of a close friend and former Navy shipmate. I’m proud to present the text of my remarks made at the August 13 wedding of Greg and Kristen Bullington in Sun Valley, Idaho.
As many of you know, I come from a naval background. In fact, it was because I was a Navy shipmate of Gary Bullington’s that I came to this high honor of being Greg’s honorary uncle. And today, with this marriage, I formally assume the privilege of becoming Kristen’s uncle as well. So I’m doubly blessed this day.
In the Navy we have a saying: Ship . . . Shipmate . . . Self. These three words serve help us in the ordering of our priorities and loyalties. I think this might be a blueprint for a successful marriage as well as a life at sea.
First, the Ship. The ship is your marriage–your life together. It’s now a priority in your life; it comes first. With inattention, a ship can drift off course, as can a marriage. So you have to chart your course carefully and navigate that course together. And as with a ship or a marriage, the price of good navigation is constant vigilance.
Next, the Shipmate. The shipmate is your spouse and you always look out for your shipmate. Your shipmate will not always tell you when they need help, so as with navigation, you have to be vigilant in this regard. And in being a good shipmate or good spouse, you will need to share all things. That includes your victories, your concerns, your anxieties, your feelings, and of course–the housework. You have to help and allow your spouse to develop into their role– as your shipmate and your first mate.
Finally, Self . . . your own self. You’ve both led active, busy, and productive lives. Now the two of you are a single entity. Yet, it will serve your life together if you save just a small portion of yourself for yourself. And in doing so, grant your shipmate the space to grow and thrive as an individual. In this way, the thrill of discovery of your life’s partner remains fresh and exciting.
Ship . . . Shipmate . . . Self. May you know fair winds and a following sea, but more importantly, may the storms that are sure to be a part of your life be weathered safely and together.
And in the words of Commodore Maury in the War of 1812, and they were his dying words, “Don’t Give Up the Ship.”
Along with my Navy shipmate, John Tortorici*, and my own life shipmate, Julia, we wish you much joy and happiness in the voyage ahead.
*My friend and shipmate from the USS Mansfield (DD 728) also presented wedding remarks.