Want to know how to make your wedding vows last? Well, allow me to share with you the juiciest conversation my husband and I shared in our premarital counseling sessions…
SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t about sex.
The session that stirred up our giddy, anticipatory spirits the most centered around a component of the wedding day that is arguably the most vital yet the most overlooked: the wedding vows.
What started out as more of a planning meeting with our minister and dear friend Reed transformed into an out-of-this-world exploration of marriage vows. The conversation shifted away from discussing the rehearsal process and how he should dismiss the guests for hors d’oeuvres when a question readily hopped out of my brain.
“At what point are we married?”
We were less than a month away from the big day, yet I hadn’t yet asked the question that means so much more than “at what point should the flower girl and ring bearer walk down the aisle?”
The precise moment when two become one is a bit difficult to empirically determine. Of course sexual union between husband and wife is a physical example of this unity, but certainly a couple is married before the wedding night (or whenever the consummation occurs), right? And all the vital parties will eventually sign the marriage license and it’ll be sent to the courthouse, but when the minister pronounces us man and wife, I’d sure hoped we’d actually be man and wife!
We are made in the image of God, given the power of words. Just as God spoke the universe into existence, our vows speak our marriage into existence. These promises aren’t just wasted breath. They are binding. This is where marriage differs from every other type of relationship. It is one thing to say to your partner, “I’ll love you forever.” It’s another thing to consciously, intentionally vow your love for your partner and promise your life to them in the company of witnesses. Our vows bind us to each other, to God, and to accountability within our community.
Possessing a new, weighty reverence for marital vows, my husband Brandon proposed an activity that has become a treasured part of our week: “Let’s read our vows to each other. Not just once on January 5th, 2018, but every week.” At first it seemed like a profound idea, but it soon became “How could we not do this?”
Wedding vows are too beautiful, too sacred to be said once and forgotten.
So on Sunday night before bed, Brandon and I recite our wedding vows. Whether we like each other at the moment or not, we remember and relive our covenant. The repetition imprints our vows into our minds and hearts, as the words become both increasingly familiar yet profound.
Every time we read them, we better understand their weight because we’ve experienced the beauty and the challenge of marriage. For instance, I vowed “to never quit our marriage. Just as the LORD does not give up on me, so I will not give up on you.” I understand now more than ever that this is a huge thing for a mere human being to promise another, and that it is by the Spirit of God living in me that it is possible. And we haven’t even been married a year! I can’t fathom how much more our vows will mean to us forty years from now.
All that being said, I’ve got a call for all the married (or soon to be married) folks: remember your vows. It can only strengthen the bond between you and your spouse. Be creative! Your vows and your marriage are different from ours; find a way to incorporate the words you said on your wedding day into your everyday lives in a way that means something to you. Need some help? Here are some suggestions on how to carry the sanctity of your vows throughout your years together.
Find your wedding vows.
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s great for you and your new husband, but we got married years ago and don’t have our vows written down!” I know this might be the case for a lot of couples, and that’s okay!
If you can’t hunt down your minister for a copy or find your vows stuffed in a memory box somewhere, it’s not too late. Take some time together to write down what you have already vowed to. If you can remember what you said five, ten, fifty-five years ago, great! If not, write new vows. Some couples even like to have a vow renewal, but you don’t have to have a formal ceremony to make these words an important part of your marriage from here on out.
Get crafty with your wedding vows.
We have some friends who have a decorative print of their vows framed on their dresser. If you’re an artist, paint them on a canvas. If you’re not an artist, find a friend who is or type your vows out in your favorite font. Grab a frame that you love and put these holy words somewhere meaningful in your home.
Make music with your wedding vows.
For those who are musically inclined, turn your vows into song lyrics and give them a melody. You could even record your new love song for your spouse as an anniversary gift.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Like Brandon and I chose Sunday evenings to be our vow night, decide on a time to read your vows together. This could be once a year on your anniversary, or monthly, weekly, or even daily! Whatever you choose, don’t skip your recitation just because you’re busy or in bad mood. Honestly, these are the times we need to read our vows the most.
For my single and dating friends out there, I hope this gives you an idea of how big a deal the exchange of promises between a bride and groom is. It’s not too early to start thinking about what marriage vows would mean for you, and what you want to vow to if/when you someday marry. Ask your married friends and family about their vows, and what they’ve learned over the years about what those vows truly entail. Keep a list of promises you think a bride and groom should make, including some of your favorite examples you’ve heard from people in your life.
Marriage is hard. Keeping your vows around isn’t going to change that. But setting aside a time and space to honor the words that permanently intertwined your lives together will provide you and your spouse with a reminder to hold fast to our Creator, the One who spoke male and female into life and unity and said, “It is very good.”
About our Guest Writer: Kathryn Crane gets excited about healthy living: physical, mental, relational, and spiritual. She’s delighted to work for Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic in Kirksville, MO as a Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist, helping thousands of teens every year make healthy decisions regarding sex and relationships.
Ready to have some brave conversations about marriage? Single, engaged, or married, I invite you to pick up a copy of Choosing Marriage: Why It Has To Start With We > Me. I promise you, it will transform the way you do relationships.
“…one of the best marriage books we’ve ever read” — Shaunti Feldhahn, Social Researcher and BestSelling Author
“…a true masterpiece among the crowded shelves of marriage books” — Dr. Kim Kimberling, Awesome Marriage