Twenty two years ago we stood in front of a small crowd of family and friends and promised we’d love each other and stay together “for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”
Thankfully we didn’t promise to obey!
Now, looking back, I realize our vows should have contained “in infertility and parenthood, during business school and unemployment, through apartment renting and home ownership.”
When I was younger I thought marriage renewal ceremonies were self-indulgent. Now I see the value of proclaiming your love and intentions before the friends who are dearest to you in adulthood. When we got married, we were babies, not yet the fully formed adults who have forged deep friendships with people who really know us – as individuals and as a couple.
I see now the value in showing our children, especially our teen who is on the precipice of entering relationships herself, what a long-lasting love, respectful partnership, and committed marriage look like. Demonstrating that her dad and I don’t just happen to be together, but we choose to be—every day.
If I were to marry this man again today, knowing what I know now, my vows would be much more specific!
I promise to just let the little things go.
I promise to listen to what you have to say when you walk in the door at night,
no matter what I’m in the middle of doing.
I promise to be on your side when you disagree with our children.
I promise to smile at the anecdotes you tell at parties,
even if I’ve heard the stories 200 times before.
Perhaps instead of vows, wedding couples should have mottos. Mine would be “presume good intentions.” I think this would pretty much cover the gamut of challenges that we’ve faced during the course of our marriage. Because it’s really not the big things like the infertility and the unemployment that drive wedges into a relationship, it’s the littlest things. It’s the irritation over unballed dirty socks and unloading the dishwasher one more time (even though you’ve already unloaded it 3 times this week and it’s somebody else’s turn!) and having your car returned with the tank empty.
Presume good intentions, apologize when you’re wrong, say “thank you”—that pretty much covers everything, doesn’t it?