I've had a second meeting today with the very excited couple to cover any additional wishes for their wedding ceremony. Our last meeting I felt I was prepared and ready to help the couple celebrate their special day. As I spoke about the commitment to each other and the gravity of the solemn vow I could see their faces squidge up as if I said something foul.
After being married for 18 years, and witnessing the ups and downs of each statement of commitment it seems appropriate to remind this couple of the gravity of the words "I do". There is so much behind each aspect of the wedding vow. So many marriages fail because there is a light undertaking of the dimensions to which each aspect of marriage can take.
When you decide you want to spend the rest of your life with "the one" You must ask yourself if you are in for what it really means to take them in
Sickness and in health –
The health is the easy part. But sickness is the stickler. Think about illness, This could be anything from man flu to ALS. Could you bathe them when they cannot? Can you change a feeding bag or a help clean an infection a the site of their colostomy bag? If they have a stroke, will you be willing to care for their basic bodily functions? If they suffer from depression or addiction will you be there by their side every step of the way to recovery? Will you drive them to the hospital when they suffer from an appendicitis, or a heart attack? Will you be their advocate during cancer treatments? Will you be there if they are admitted to hospice care? Will their well being be as important as your own?
Richer or Poorer –
One might thing the richer part would be easy but the management of that wealth and the responsibilities that entails can end a marriage as well. What if your spouse is a spend thrift? Can you work with them to learn better habits? If one or both of you lose your jobs can you work together to tighten your spending and recover? If your partner is too frugal can you live with the meager budgeting without fighting over the money?
Honor and respect-
This one seems like a no brainer because you love that person right? It often times erodes when the consideration behind the relationship is missed. It takes only a few tiny errors, like missing their napkin when setting the table, or not taking up their laundry but only your own, to failing to listen to them when they just need an ear. These tiny things build up to erode the honor and respect of your commitment. Where one may feel invisible or not valued over the years. Thank yous missed, hugs not given, time together not spent all build up to a rift in a marriage.
Keeping only unto them until death do you part –
Again the early stages of the relationship the couple might think "This will never happen to us, because we love each other so much" Though all it takes are the rifts in the prior vows to drive one or the other to toward someone who fills the void or shows value that is missing from the relationship.
Most come away from the the wedding day thinking "Hooray! This is us~ we've done it. Married for life!" But marriage is a journey and it takes work to keep it fresh and loving each and every day of your lives together. Early in the relationship that whistle when they breathe due to a deviated septum was cute and endearing but after 157680 hours of life together hearing that whistle might be less cute and endearing and more like a Chinese water torture. Can you work with that for the rest of your lives together?
Squidging at the emphasis of the gravity of the vows and being entirely sure of your commitment means perhaps the gravity of the vows are not fully understood.
Working on your marriage is expected every day. And being strong enough when you are at a point where it becomes hard to come to a therapist and ask for help is not admitting defeat but admitting you love each other that much to keep striving to keep that love alive.
One thing too… there are no roles in the marriage and no such thing as 50/50 all the time. Sometimes it is 80/20 or 90/10. If you have that expectation when you go into it your partner better be on board.
By the time you set foot at that altar in front of your celebrant, you be quite sure you and your intended have gone over all the possibilities of your life in marriage, kids/no kids, last wishes should life support be in question. Leave no stone unturned.