When I pronounce a couple married, I am sending them off on the grand adventure of marriage. We have concepts and definitions for marriage, but what will happen after you walk out of your ceremony as a new unit is completely unknown. I talk about the journey of marriage in my ceremonies via romantic metaphors, and reflect on the importance of friendship, teamwork, and everything else that makes a marriage work. But how do you know if you are doing everything you can to make your marriage the best it can be?
One thing you can do is check in on your marriage vows.
My first year as a Savannah wedding officiant aligned with my first year of being married. Some weekends I oversee the wedding vows of as many as five couples. At the end of one wedding this Spring where a couple used personal vows that really touched me, I drove away wondering why I never look at my own vows. I decided to change that.
I promise to be there for you when you need me, whenever you need me. I promise to persevere when times get tough, knowing that as long as we stick together, it all works out.
I have posted the wedding vows that my husband and I used* on my ceremony example page. The second vow comes in part from Coach Taylor, a character on Friday Night Lights, a television show that at its heart is about marriage. These are the vows we rocked in our first year of marriage.
Of course this wasn’t hard because I selected an amazing person to partner with! But I also feel that when you make that big decision to commit yourself legally, emotionally, and spiritually, and sign that paperwork, it’s a natural instinct to dig into it and brace yourself for the tough times that were mentioned in your ceremony. I am the type of person who wants an A+ after any challenge. When you marry, you also become a literal team, not only where you have two people to tackle whatever you encounter- like the dishwasher- but a team where one can take a lead and another can assist and you can rotate your support as needed based on what the game calls for.
When I was single and had thoughts about being married, I was concerned with picking the right person who would be there for better or worse, that wouldn’t leave me high and dry when things got tough. Some of this anxiety came from literal experiences from failed past relationships, and some of it stemmed from the struggles of dealing with difficult things on my own and how terrible that loneliness felt. Years have passed, but the heartache and isolation of those memories are palatable. There was no way I was not going to be present during the hard times.
During our first year of marriage, my husband and I faced something very difficult that impacted us individually and together, the type of event that can tear people apart inside and wreak havoc on a relationship.** While we hoped this would stay a single event, complications left it a continuing part of our lives. Through it all, it was never hard to honor our vow to stick together through the tough moments that rolled in, even when they were unpleasant as all hell. We persevered because there was love and because we were a team- taking turns providing comfort and optimism to each other when despair creeped in, as well as helping each other face difficult realities.
So honoring our vow to being strong and staying together was easy. A+, indeed.
I promise to keep our lives exciting, adventurous, and full of passion.
This vow… a strong B. I was surprised to find that it was much harder to remember to be fun and passionate than to be tried and true. I suspect this is more common than not.
Luckily, I had reread our vows this June so when we planned our vacation, I focused on adventure as much as I could. It was wonderful! We drove to the Florida Keys for a four day adventure. We ate key lime pie, pulled off on the side of highway to spontaneously swim, and drank rum together. We flew up to Fire Island to relax on the beach for a week, admired the most beautiful sunsets in the world, and reconnected with friends in New York City. Lastly, we visited family in New England and stuffed out faces with clam chowder, quahogs, lobster rolls and fresh blueberries.
The world seems so much more manageable when you can stop to just have some fun. Together.
Do you check in on your vows to make sure your marriage is healthy? If you’re a past client of mine, you have a copy of what you promised. Are you laughing and supporting each other’s dreams? ARE YOU HAVING FUN? If you’re not today, how will you start again tomorrow? Hiccups happen, but in marriage, you have created a team that is equipped to stop the hiccups, not matter how frustrating they are. Doing it with some joy and laughter always helps.
The strength of vows is that even if you feel like you are lacking, there is opportunity to just pick and be better, wherever you are.
‘Til next time,
* MY wedding vows are for your use. I am tickled pink when a couple uses any part of them!
** I chose to be vague about this “event.” However, I also realize not knowing might be distracting for some readers. It is described here.