When Your Wedding Vows Lose Their Meaning

When my husband and I got married we were fairly young.  I was 22 and my husband was 21.  Though we had known one another for a few years, we only dated for a few short months before getting engaged, and then another few months before saying “I DO”.  Leading up to our wedding day we had many discussions about how we would handle conflict, support one another in hard times, and love one another even on the days we would wake up and decide we didn’t want to.  We spent hours in pre-marital counseling and we discussed how we were going to do things different than both sets of our parents whose marriages had ended in divorce.

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I celebrated our six year anniversary.  While six years doesn’t seem like that long of a time period, it has definitely presented enough opportunities to experience the highs and lows of life together.  At dinner that night we found ourselves laughing over some of our silly arguments, crying over some of the struggles and triumphs, and just sitting in one another’s presence.  We talked about how even though six years is short, it has brought a lot of growth and opportunity to stand by one another’s sides when it would have been easier to walk away.  We discussed how, for the most part, we had succeeded at choosing to love one another, even on the days when it would have been easier to walk away.

All of that said, we found ourselves discussing our wedding vows and the commitments we made to one another on our wedding day.  It wasn’t but a few minutes into this discussion that we both mutually agreed that our wedding vows had lost their meaning, lost their value.  They didn’t lose their value because we love one another less than the day that we recited them.  As a matter of fact, both of us would say we love one another more now than on our wedding day.  Our vows lost their value because we set unrealistic expectations based on unrealistic understandings for who one another was.

I remember on our wedding day saying things like “I will never go to bed angry” and “I will always kiss you good morning”.  The problem with these statements is that there is no room for mistakes, there is no room for grace, or growth.  Reality is that in the six years we have been married, both my husband and I have gone to bed angry.  Both my husband and I have left in a rush and forgotten to to kiss one another goodbye.  Both my husband and I have messed up and hurt each other, let one another down, and even been flat out mean and spiteful.  It’s not ideal and I’m not proud to admit how selfish we have been at times, but it is reality.

In the midst of sharing life over the last six years, we have learned what a strong marriage looks like.  We have learned that it looks like standing by one another when everything inside of us wants to throw our hands up and say “I’m done”.  It looks like failing, and the other person saying “it’s okay, I love you and I forgive you”.  It looks like standing in the card aisle on your anniversary and thinking to yourself “I love my spouse, but they aren’t EVERYTHING I could EVER desire so I’m going to handwrite a card instead of buying one of these superficial things” because you realize that only God can complete you.  It looks like hard conversations that push the other person to be better instead of just allowing them to be mediocre because you are scared to be honest.  It looks like sitting in the hurt and the sadness together when life hits you like a ton of bricks and leaves you feeling hopeless.  It looks like growing in patience, grace, and selflessness when all you can see are the flaws in the other person.  It looks like work, not just a perfect picture of rainbows and butterflies, because let’s be honest, you are both human and you are going to be less at times.  Sometimes it even looks like setting healthy boundaries, or going to counseling, all of which we have done.

What we have learned in the last six years is that never and always are big words.  As for our vows, we discussed rewriting them now that we have a better understanding of what marriage looks like.  We discussed setting a day to the side to share our new vows not only with one another, but with out daughter as well so that we can set a more realistic expectation for her.  We discussed how if we are honest with ourselves, our vows will look more like “I promise to do my best to not go to bed angry” or “I promise to be honest when I’m frustrated instead of becoming apathetic because it’s easier”.  We also discussed how the most important vow that we could commit to one another is that “even when the other person doesn’t meet our expectations, we will try our absolute hardest to still choose to honor one another in the way that we feel called to do so”.

We refer to 1 Corinthians 13 often.  If you read it you will notice it talks a lot about what love is and is not.  Only once does it say “never” and that is in verse 8 where it says “Love never ends.”  After six  years of marriage, after immense amounts of  tears, laughter, joy, and triumph all bundled in one, that’s my biggest prayer.  That for the both of us “love never ends” so that we can strive every day to love better and deeper than the day before.  So that we can continue to pursue the plans that God has laid out for us.  So that we can together do Kingdomwork even though we aren’t perfect people.

Even though our vows don’t mean the same thing they did six years ago, I can promise that today I love my husband more than I did on the day we said “I do” and there’s beauty in that.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on it’s own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

*Disclaimer: This post is in no way meant to endorse staying in abusive marriages.  I know that these scriptures can be used to guilt an individual into staying in an unsafe situation.  I don’t condone that in any way, shape or form.  This is a post about MY marriage and what I have learned in the six years I have been with my husband.  

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I am a wife and full-time working mom who’s journey through every day life is sometimes sloppy and sometimes not. This is a place where I write openly about the joys and the struggles that I encounter throughout my day. My hope is that it can be a conversation starter for tough topics and that it can provide a sense of comfort for others who are journeying through similar situations.

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