Linda: When couples get married, the officiating person at the ceremony often has a set of declarations that he or she offers to the couple to recite after them. They can be beautiful and potent, but they are generic. For vows to be as effective ad possible, they require reflection on the part of both partners to see what unique characteristics their marriage will be guided by. Although all marriages include marital vows, very few of them are personalized to the specific intentions of each partner.
Every marriage has three components, mine, yours, and ours. This refers to the vows that underlie the foundation of the relationship. The three sets of vows, what you are vowing to me, what I am vowing to you, and what we are vowing to contribute to the marriage itself. The generic, off the rack vows aren’t adequate because they don’t reflect each partner’s vision and unique needs.
Only when a couple personalizes their vows can they represent their deepest desires and intentions. When the declarations are not a personal expression of the couple, there tends to not be as strong a commitment to the vows. Vows are the cornerstone of the foundation of the marriage. The process of formulating the vows together is an essential aspect of the union itself.
In the process of conducting the inquiry into what we will vow to, it will become evident where the couple is in alignment, and where there is misalignment. The vow making process will shed light on any places where they might not see eye to eye, and this is not necessarily a problem. It only becomes a problem when the differences are not honestly acknowledged. It is a beautiful ritual to revisit the original vows made at the wedding ceremony to congratulate ourselves for keeping those vows, but it is also powerful to take a look to see what vows may need to be included now that the relationship has evolved. Consider the following story of Harry and Sally. They didn’t know about this particular dynamic at the time of their wedding so although they did design their own vows, rather than opting for the off the rack kind, they had no idea that a new declaration and commitment would be essential for their marriage to thrive.
Harry and Sally had been married for three years. Harry was an introvert and thrived when he had large portions of time to himself. Sally was extroverted, loved talking and connecting to many people, most especially Harry, as he was her favorite. There was much that was wonderful in their relationship, but from time to time, their differences in the desire for connection and solitude showed up as problematic. They both knew that this issue had the potential to become a deal breaker if it was not adequately addressed. Although they didn’t know exactly how, they were both determined to come up with a means of reconciliation that worked for both them both. They agreed to give this concern the necessary time and attention to meet the challenge.
The way they spoke to each other about their feelings and differing needs was with tenderness and vulnerability. Harry told Sally how difficult it was for him to be in a busy, noisy, demanding work place all week and how badly he needed quiet time on the weekends. Sally told Harry how much she missed him during the work week, how; lonely she was for touch, conversation, and connection with him.
Because of the gentle and respectful way they spoke of their differing styles of replenishing themselves, they were able to work out an agreement for dividing their free time on their weekends to allow for their differing needs to be fulfilled. Sally vowed to support him in his desire for solitude. Harry’s vow was a commitment to be mindful of Sally’s desire for connection, to include time that the two of them spend together on a regular basis, on his list of priorities and concerns. They both committed to give the relationship the attention and time it needed in order to thrive.
This new vow, of Sally declaring that she would be the guardian of Harry’s solitude and Harry vowing that he would stretch into Sally’s world of connection to her personally and to an active social life whenever he could do so with grace, made a huge difference in the well being of this pair. This is only one example out of many, of the changing needs of a couple as they take the journey through their life together.
Your wedding anniversary, Valentine’s day and New Year’s are all auspicious days to reinlist with new vows that are just waiting for your formal announcement. If you try it out one time and find how potent such a declaration is, even if it is done in the privacy of your own home without the benefit of family and friends to bear witness, you might find that it is a ritual and ceremony tht you want to keep up for a lifetime.
“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” –Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate