January 27, 2015

How Scrapping the Vows Saved Our Marriage.

Photo: Dennis Skley
It’s not about the vows.

“We’ve made some vows, and we intend to keep them.”

Like a badge of honor, proof of tenacity, denial of what’s not working, we keep on hanging on, pointing to our determination.

It takes courage to ask what kind of glue is keeping things together: are we together for love, because our vows are still relevant, for the companionship, for the finances, or to avoid having to admit that we’re done? Using vows as a reason to stay together makes little sense…unless there is a sack full of truth behind them.

A friend asked me recently, what is love anyway?

My answer was simply what I, personally, know love to be. Another answer might be just as true, but I can only speak for myself, after all. So I said; “Why, love is wanting the very best life experience for my partner and he wanting the same for me, no matter what that means to our relationship.”

And that is the very thing that my love and I discussed one evening, lying by the fire and asking each other some difficult questions.

If I needed to run away to some distant land, to experience myself in another environment, read and write from a new perspective and make love to strangers…would he let me go, even if it meant that our union might not survive?

And if he was walking the boardwalk by the lake one day, and happened to meet a girl who stirred him in immeasurable ways, would I let him explore this new adventure with an open heart?

Would we dare to stretch the borders of our love?

Were we lovers and best friends also?

Did the vows create parameters that violated the essence of our love?

We noticed, as observers of our own conversation, that we were carried away by the purity of our intention to honor each other as human beings. We fell in love all over again, illuminated by the bright light of brutal honesty.

We made love, more than skin naked.

My partner, a seeker, has always given me the space to be me. And I’ve taken it. All that space was given with a complete trust that I would honor him also. As our conversations continued over the next few weeks, we realized that the vows we had earnestly made on our wedding day; had been made by people we no longer knew, and that they did not reflect our values anymore. That love, the love that joined us in matrimony, had hung on to the ideal of our partner never hurting us, never leaving us; never disappointing us. Now those vows were an unpleasant bondage, and we could no longer fly towards each other.

And so, we broke them.

I set up an altar to burn our vows upon.

Vows run deep, they run through generations. They are difficult to erase, because our words become part of our cell memory. So we had some work before us—to lovingly, respectfully, unravel the ties that bound us.

My magical practice has taught me that even things that hurt us need to be let go of or banished with great love. We had new words to speak to each other, after we cut a cord that symbolized the old vows, after we blew out the candles on our ceremony. We stood in unchartered waters, and offered the only thing we had to give, our pledge to honor the truth in each other. A wave of release hit us; new energy re-vitalized our chakras, old wounds slipped off our shoulders. It was powerful.

And it was damn scary.

Conversations are speculative; life is lived on the edge of a precipice.

What we discovered, is that the vows were not the glue. Our honesty was the glue. Our deep dedication to the others life path was the glue. Our need to be fully ourselves was the glue. We were together not because we had to stay true to our vows, but because we had to stay true to what we were on the planet for.

The more we were willing to separate to honor the truth in each other, the stronger our love grew, the more we enjoyed our union. We took off our rings, deciding that they would not be the symbol of our love any longer: we wanted different evidence.

We agreed that we would stay together as long as we were growing, as long as the union benefited us both to the core.

There have been some battles since then. The wisdom of a Leo and a Scorpio entering into a relationship needs to be questioned at times. There have been thoughts of walking away, and there has been stretching of the limits of our love. As usual, it is me who pushes the hardest, because sometimes I just need to know.

And every time, I am confronted with the same realization. He will honor the truth in me, no matter what it costs him.

This alone reduces me to tears.

We’ve been asked whether we feel vulnerable without the vows, doesn’t the absence of rings speak of our availability? Doesn’t an honorable man keep his word? It is then that I realize how deeply ingrained in our human psyche is the notion that a visible/public declaration of a union is the Keeper at the Gate. Keeping your word is all fine and good if that word is still what your soul aspires to. Be careful of the vows you make, the words you speak.

There are days when I want to stamp him mine. On those days I battle my own fears and insecurities and can see from behind my ranting that I want him to be responsible for my emotions by putting on the ring. It’s romantic, I argue with Self. It’s Ego, Self replies, but if you need to feel the romance, then go for it. If this is your truth in this moment, you’re good to follow your instincts.

But whenever I put the ring back on, I feel that strange tug at my heart that says it’s not for me.

We’ve scrapped our old vows, and kept our marriage. Six years later, the words I spoke in secret to my partner are still true, and still offer us both the freedom to stay or to go. If I stay respectful of my partner’s needs, I deserve to hold the love he freely offers. If not, I must speak, and lay myself bare before him.

The Keeper at the Gate of our partnership demands full disclosure.


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Author: Monika Carless

Editor: Renee Picard 

Photo: dskley at Flickr 

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