This is late and I appologize, I wanted to write a post on marriage after hearing the mass readings 2 Sundays ago. 8 days of crazy (sick, non-sleeping baby) later and here I am. My anniversary was yesterday though, so it ties in well!
“I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
“I, ______, take you, ______, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.
If you haven’t been to a wedding and heard the vows, you’ve almost definitely seen them in a movie. Most people could recite some variation of them off the top of their head. BUT at your wedding they are so much more than just words. They are a promise, a contract, a vow, made from that moment until the end of your life. d a n g! Not something to be taken lightly.
Sadly it looks like this vow, these precious words, are taken much too lightly. Look at the number of divorced people you know personally, compare that to the number of children in your elementary school class with divorced parents. I am 26 and when I was in elementary school the idea of people being divorced was basically unheard of. So often tabloids read ” so-and-so, divorced after X years” (or months, or weeks, or days) It makes me sad…
But, let’s talk about the rest of us who are here trying our best to live out our vows.
I’m sure so many of us are at different places in life, age, and where our marriages are at. I have an 8 month old, and just celebrated my 2 year anniversary yesterday – woo hoo! Having a brand new person to care for literally turned my world upside down. Despite my halfhearted, extremely exhausted efforts, my marriage took a back seat. Now that she’s more independant I feel better about the option to leave her with a sitter, which is what we did for an evening Saturday when we celebrated us. I planned a surprise scavenger hunt, including a picnic dinner and movie. It was awesome if I do say so myself! (to hear more about it or plan your own, click here).
Let’s break down the vows piece by piece and really give ourselves a ‘check’. Have we been living out our vows daily? Do we still ‘do’? (awkward to word… but you get it!)
‘I promise to be true to you’. What does your fidelity look like to your spouse? Does it resemble that of Christ, one that would sacrifice everything for the good of the beloved? Sometimes sacrificing my own wants or desires and placing my husband before them can be hard.
‘In good times and bad’. Do you celebrate, enjoy and rejoice in the good times together? Do those times feed your relationship? How does your relationship hold up when, “the going gets tough”? Are you true to him/her then?
‘For better, for worse’. (similar to the above). How about your spouse. We are human. You married a human, as my friend Sarah put so well in her blog post. We are constantly changing and growing, and succeeding, and failing. When your spouse is at their best, when you could not be more proud of feel more in love with them, are you true to them then? (pretty easy). How about when they’re struggling? When they’re doubting themselves, going through a deep personal struggle, when they don’t seem to be living up to the expectations you had for them when you ‘signed up for this’? Do you love them then? Are you true to them then? This one can be hard. I know I need to stop putting expectations on my husband at times. My job is to love him as he is – faults, failures, and all.
‘For richer, for poorer’. Money, money, money! (did you sing it?) Finances are such a h u g e source of tension in a relationship, and according to statistics one of the leading ’causes’ for divorce. When things are comfortable financially, things seem easier. When you are in the ‘for poorer’ house, things can be a bit more tense. You or your spouse may get frustrated, feel defeated, like a failure, etc. Do you love through the Benjamin’s and the George’s? ($100, and $1 bills)
‘In sickness and health’. I am so blessed to be healthy and to have a healthy family. Poor health can ware on you, and it is no different for a married couple if one of them is in poor health. Does your love waiver with illness, or remain constant? My gramma passed away this spring. Although I wasn’t home to witness how my papa cared for her I could see the love and care in photos, and phone calls, and videos. One of the most beautiful pictures of love I have ever seen is one of my gramma sleepping in her bed, and my papa sleeping sitting in a chair leaned over her bed holding her hand *cue the tears*. They lived out their vows so well. Are you?
‘I will love you, and honor you’. I will love you. Okay we get that one, no need to break it down farther. Honor. Now, that’s a harder one. How do you honor someone? I instantly think of Mulan (such a Disney fan). Marriam-Webster defines it as ‘a showing of respect’. This makes me think of the ‘for better, for worse’ point I made already. How about honoring your spouse with expressions of respect, doing something beyond just respecting them? In what ways do you show him/her that you love and respect him/her? In an effort to honor my husband in a special way for our anniversary I planned an anniversary date. He was so honored = wife win. You don’t need to always make grand gestures to show your love and honor. It can be in the little things, talking kindly, respecting their opinion/wishes, affirming good things they’ve done or qualities they have.
‘All the days of my life/ Until death do us part‘. Are you sticking it out for the long haul? You made a vow to, remember that! They’re are most definitely going to be moments that make you think ‘what the hell am I doing here?!’ Recall your vows, and do your best to live them out until they are completed; the passing of yourself or your spouse. You thought this person was worth spending your whole life with at some point, or you wouldn’t have asked! So fight for them. Fight for love. Be the example that your grandchildren can look at down the road and say “They showed me exactly what love looked like. They lived our there vows well!”
On that note, go hug your spouse, give them a big kiss, tell them you love them, and find little (or big) ways to l i v e o u t your vows. Let them know they are worth it. And if it ever gets tough, turn to the perfect spouse, and ask the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance.
Peace and Blessings,