Vows are the cornerstones of the foundation of a committed partnership and taking vows is a practice that defines the context, expectations, and values of that relationship. Vows provide both partners with a clear understanding of the intentions of each partner and each of their commitments to fulfill them.
Every marriage has three components, me, you, and us. Our vows have to do with what you are vowing to me, what I am vowing to you, and what we each are vowing to contribute to the relationship itself. While many couples chose to parts of the “off-the-rack” or generic vows offered by their respective religious traditions “till death do us part”, “to love, honor and obey”, “ for better or worse, in richer or poorer, in sickness and health…” etc.) an increasing number of weddings now feature personalized vows that are unique to the couple’s individual and collective needs, contributions and vision for the marriage.
When a couple personalizes their vows, their deepest desires and intentions are illuminated, not only to each other, but to everyone present who serve as supportive witnesses to the couple. In declaring their vows, the couple takes an important step in strengthening their power and firming the spirit in which they are being offered.
Formulating joint vows can be an essential aspect of the deepening of a couple’s love. In this process it can become more evident where you both are in alignment on what you will commit to, and where there may be misalignment. All couples have places where they are not completely in sync with each other. Being misaligned is certainly not cause for alarm, but it’s a good idea to be aware of any areas where differences in points of view or even values may be present. Not all differences need to be or even can be reconciled, and sometimes simply acknowledging them can bring couples a step closer to accepting and perhaps even appreciating them.
Vows can also serve as a form of commitment renewal, as well as a defining context that a couple sets at the beginning of a committed partnership. Many couples (including us) have renewed their vows or added new ones long after their formal ceremony. For example, we revisit our vows once or twice a year and share them verbally or in writing with each other. Doing so helps to support each of us to reaffirm our commitment. This can add new content relevant to the conditions that we are experiencing as our bodies and our relationship undergo changes as we age. We’re including a few examples of vows that you can use as a starter kit to help you come up with vows of your own. There is no limit to the number of commitments that you can include in your vow.
- I vow to be a worthy opponent and to speak the truth, even when I believe that what I say may disturb you or upset our relationship.
- I commit to being honest with you about any grievances or disappointments that I might have so as not to allow any “withholds” or resentments from accumulating and therefore contaminating our love.
- I pledge to honor you as much as but not more than myself.
- I promise to manage any jealousy that I might experience in a way that it doesn’t inhibit you from having meaningful relationships with other men and women.
- I vow to take responsibility for creating a rich, meaningful life for myself, and not hold you responsible for providing fulfillment for me.
- I am committed to being the best lover, supporter, cheerleader, inspirer, partner, and playmate for you that I can be.
- I pledge to you that I will keep our sexual relationship vital, even as our bodies change as we age. I will make the extra effort to keep the enthusiasm present in our sexual relationship so that we can continue to delight in that particular form of intimacy. I am committed to bringing pleasure and joy to both of us through our physical relationship.
- I vow to prompt you to continue to develop your talents and to share your gifts with others.
- I vow to support you to take risks, try new things and to go to places you’ve never been before.
- I pledge to be the fierce guardian of your solitude, so you will have abundant time for meditation, reflection, and renewal.
- I vow to continually, consistently see the divine in you and assist your process of discovering deeper levels of the sacred both within and around you.
- I vow to live with an open heart and to encourage your big beautiful heart to open more fully so that service is the defining essence of our life together.
- I vow that the love we share with each other will be so nourishing that it will spill over to those around us.
- I vow to take good care of myself and develop my own gifts.
- I pledge to live a balanced life, and to hold work in its proper place.
- I vow to trust you to honor the sacred bond that we share and to respect and not exploit my vulnerability. I trust you to reciprocate my trust with yours. I trust you to open your heart to me even when you experience fear or anger, to the best of your ability. I trust that the nurturing of the love that we share is a high priority in your life.
- I vow to love you with all my heart with complete devotion for all of my life.
Feel free to use or modify any of these vows that ring true for you, or to create your own. What matters the most is that they come from your heart and are sincere. The power of vows is amplified when they are shared aloud in the present of others, for example at weddings. Vows do not require the presence of witnesses and can be shared with each other in private if you prefer. For many people (including ourselves) vows serve as a reminder of the purpose of our relationship and of the power that we each possess to have it thrive and grow on an ongoing basis. They are heartfelt commitments that will not only get you through the tough times, but will get your relationship up to places that you may have never even imagined possible. And that’s promise!