Vows are the cornerstone of the foundation of a committed partnership, and taking vows is a practice that defines the context, expectations, and values of that relationship. Vows provide both partners with a clear understanding of the intentions of each of them.
Every marriage has three components, me, you, and us. Our vows have to do with what you are promising to me, what I am promising to you, and what we each are promising to contribute to the relationship itself. While many couples choose to use parts of “off-the-rack” or generic vows offered by their respective religious traditions (“Till death do us part”, “to love, honor and obey”…” etc.), an increasing number of weddings now feature personalized vows that are unique to the couple’s individual and collective needs,contributions and vision for the marriage. When a couple personalizes their vows, they illuminate their deepest desires and intentions, not only to each other, but to all of those present who witness and participate in the ceremony. In declaring their vows, the couple takes an important step in the process of strengthening their power to affirm the spirit of their commitment.
Formulating joint vows can be an essential aspect of the deepening of a couple’s love. In this process it can become more evident where both partners are in alignment in regard to their commitments, and where there may be misalignment. All couples have places where they are not completely in sync with each other. Being misaligned is not cause for alarm, but it’s a good idea to be aware of any areas where differences in perspectives, points of view or even values may be present. Not all differences need to be or even can be reconciled. Sometimes simply acknowledging them can bring couples a step closer to accepting and perhaps even appreciating them.
Vows can also serve as a form of commitment renewal, as well as a defining context that a couple sets at the beginning of a committed partnership. Many couples (including us) have renewed their vows or added new ones long after the formal commitment ceremony. We reaffirm our vows once or twice a year and share them verbally and/or in writing with each other. Doing so helps to support each of us to remember our commitment and allows us to add new content that may be relevant to the conditions that we are experiencing as our bodies and our relationship undergo changes as we age.
Here are a few examples of vows that you can use as a starter kit which might help you to come up with vows of your own should you need it.
- I vow to be a worthy opponent and to respectfully express my truth, even if I believe that what I say may disturb or upset you.I commit to being honest with you about any grievances or disappointments that I might have so as not to allow any “withholds” or resentments from accumulating and therefore contaminating our love.I pledge to honor you as much as but not more than myself.
- I promise to manage any jealousy that I might experience in a way that it doesn’t inhibit you from having meaningful relationships with other men and women.
- I vow to take responsibility for creating create a rich and meaningful life for myself, and not hold you responsible for providing fulfillment for me.
- I pledge to you that I will do my best to keep our sexual relationship vital over the years, even as our bodies change as we age.
- I vow to encourage you to continue to develop your talents and to share your gifts with others.
- I vow that the love we share with each other will be so nourishing, thick and rich that it will spill over to those around us.
- I vow to take good care of myself and develop my own gifts.
- I pledge to live a balanced life, and to hold work in its proper place.
- I vow to love you with all my heart for all of my life.
Feel free to use or modify any of these vows that ring true for you, or to create your own. What matters the most is that your vows come from your heart and that they are sincere. The power of vows is amplified when they are shared among others, but of course they don’t require the presence of witnesses. Vows don’t require the presence of witnesses and can be shared with each other in private if you prefer. Vows can also serve as a reminder of the purpose of our relationship and of the power that we each possess to have it thrive and grow on an ongoing basis. They are heartfelt commitments that will not only get you through the tough times, but can raise your relationship up to levels that you may have never even imagined possible. And that’s a promise!