They’re certainly not poetic, but these promises, if kept, will go far in sealing a marriage for the ages.
Love is patient, love is kind, love endures, blah blah blah, isn’t it all wonderful? Vowing to persevere through sickness and health and in wealth and poverty is tradition, and it’s comfortable when associated with lace and roses. But hasn’t it proven to be fairly useless when it comes to forging marriages that last forever? How many people have mouthed the words, “until we are parted by death” while privately plotting to move on as soon as a more attractive option presents itself?
Here’s a set of wedding vows with practical merit. They might sound unconventional and unromantic. They’re certainly not poetic, but these promises, if kept, will go far in sealing a marriage for the ages.
1. I promise to clarify my expectations.
A marriage ends because a spouse has failed to meet the expectations their partner brought to the marriage. Expectations are unique, and come packaged inside your fiancé’s brain. You may think these things are obvious or universal, that “everyone knows” what makes a good husband, what makes a good wife. But the truth is, your expectations are yours alone — spawned from your experiences and locked in your head.
There is nothing you can assume about your partner’s idea of what a good marriage looks like. No harm will come from being very specific and concrete about exactly what you want, not just in bed but in the bank account, at the dinner table, with regard to parenting and everything else. If you’re too shy to mention what you believe is the right way to behave, and you’re hoping everything will become obvious as time goes on, you’re not ready to get married. Get it all in the open, and keep putting it out in the open. If someone fails you, they should have to do it by choice, and not have ignorance as an excuse.
2. I promise to give you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to money.
One of the biggest adjustments when entering marriage is joint finances. From being on your own and subject only to your own ups and downs, you're now responsible for another person, or you're depending on another person. That can be scary.
Here's a vow you can make that will help: If your spouse spends a lot of money on something, trust that they know what they're doing. Trust them until it becomes impossible not to trust them. Don't come out of the gate suspicious. Here's why you can do this: You didn't marry an idiot. Right?
If you think they're overspending this month, chances are they're expecting a special check, or they're compensating for underspending last month, or something else. This is not a fool; this is your spouse. Surrender the worry that they're going to drive you into financial ruin. Give the benefit of the doubt. If they really do appear to be ruining you, then the last benefit of the doubt you can give is that they don't know any better and need help. Help kindly and respectfully, not with judgment and blame.
3. I promise to make sure I'm not just hungry before I yell at you.
Do your wife or husband a favour: Eat your favourite sandwich and then come back and yell at her/him all you want, if you still feel like it.
4. I promise not to give in to you for the sole purpose of using my compliance against you later.
Some people call this passive aggressive behaviour, but this is a very specific maneuver that you can understand and avoid: Being the good person, even though you don't want to, is not always good. Being so compliant and docile that a halo pops out of your hair and lofts itself over you, bathing you in its golden light, is sometimes a trick, and you really intend to strangle your spouse with that halo somewhere down the road. Being so good that next time there's an argument, you can point back to this moment as an example of how your goodness practically rent the sky in half -- that's not goodness. Don't do that.