Lovers are nothing if not optimistic.
We may not know what job we will hold in ten years time, but yet we are willing to stand up and vow we will love the person before us for the next 50 or 60 years.
“Vow: noun, a solemn promise. See also oath, pledge, promise, commitment, bond, covenant. “
Wedding vows are like the frosting on a five tier cake, and we seem to take subtle liberties in writing them as one would a poem.
But, after having stood at the altar, and then seeing how life, marriage, children and time can actually change a person, I’m wondering if we should be more concerned about stating our honest intentions about how shitty things really could get, and then still promising to be there.
Now that’s a vow I might actually make.
I believe in marriage—at least I think I do.
I whole heartedly believe in love, but I’m not sure about the whole white dress and rings. Maybe I’d rather be wearing a bathing suit, and get matching tattoos instead. I’ve never been good at keeping jewelry though, and any lover I have better hope he lasts longer than my last ring which I broke opening a beer bottle.
Yup, I’m that girl!
I don’t need (or even want) a diamond, not even if it was a vintage ring found at a Persian market. I guess I just put more importance in the substance of what I want my life to be rather than a piece of jewelry.
And really, white has never been my color anyway…
When I wrote my wedding vows I made them beautifully poetic, but never once did I stop to think about why I really wanted to get married or what I really wanted my life to look like post nuptials.
We hear the phrase so many times that most young girl’s just want a wedding, not a marriage, and unfortunately I have to agree with them.
We have to assume that at any moment, any random day with our lover, married or not, is the best that it will ever get.
Not tomorrow after they’ve sobered up from their drunken stupor; not next week when they get their promotion; not even next month when we are on vacation together.
Right now. Right here. If this is the best it will ever get, will that be enough to sign up for forever?
We spend far too much time wishing for our partners and our lives to change, and not enough time actually taking ownership and changing our own lives so that we can be living the most authentic life possible. Only when we do that will we attract someone who feels the same.
We can’t expect true honest authenticity if we’re not willing to bring it.
The following are the most traditional and popular wedding vows but like most aspects of tradition I balk at them.
These vows haven’t stared the future down. They are the vows that past generations have accepted as the norm, but as we become a more mindful, authenticity based society, they just don’t hold up to the emotionally deep and honest standards that I think most of us desire at this point.
“I, (name), take you, (name), to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife), my constant friend, my faithful partner and my love from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.”
Instead, let us only promise what is in our hearts in the moment, not because we will be lawfully bound to one another from this day forth, or because friends, family and God are watching, but because two people who are as flawed as they come, decided to still be together—not despite their flaws, but because of them.
If I ever say “I Do” again, I think I’d want my vows to be something more like this—something I could grab onto with both hands and ride the hell out of.
“I, take you, my lover to join with me on this adventure we call life; because no one understands my crazy wild unstoppable heart more than you. When we are down on our luck, and I am beaten down and crying, you’re the one I want holding my hand, brushing my tears away, telling me it will be alright, and to look towards sunnier days. I can’t promise you forever, but right now, in this moment, I’m giving you my whole heart, and I can only say that no one else has ever touched me like you do and I find it hard to believe that anyone else ever could. I promise that every day I will be honest with you, no matter what that means, or what hurts it may cause, and that I will never hide a piece of myself or my heart from you. I will promise to continually try to remind you of why you fell in love with me in the first place. Even when the days are long and the nights are longer, and we feel tired, and stressed out, I promise to make you smile, and to kiss you like it was the very first time. I can only promise that in this moment, on this day, I love you more than I have ever loved anyone, and I can’t promise you that we will only have the best of times, and I can’t guarantee what tomorrow will hold, but I am choosing you, and in a thousand lifetimes, in a thousand different ways, I will continue to choose you.”
Maybe that’s how we know we’re actually ready to accept another into our life: when the promise of reality, scars and all, is so much sweeter than fairy tales.
Maybe if we stopped approaching marriage like a play to be put on for others, we’d realize that the most important part of saying “I Do,” is truly in the doing.
The doing of life every single day—breakfast in bed, dancing in the rain, quiet walks hand in hand, telling the truth even when it hurts, road trips, sick with the flu—that’s life…a million things happening all at once.
I guess that’s what a truly mindful marriage comes down to—whether you’re actually prepared to do after you say “I Do.”
“When I look into his eyes I don’t see perfection. I don’t see a love story that someone would watch on the big screen and dream about. I see someone who will fight for me and protect me and love me in spite of all the days I’m still a wreck. I see Home.” –Melanie Shankle
Author: Kate Rose
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Dennis Skley/Flickr
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