Extraordinary Vows for Extraordinary Couples
It’s no puzzle. It’s no game. When there’s white silk, black tuxedos, glasses of champagne, and one gorgeous ring, no one needs to be told what’s going on. It’s a wedding, and it’s a bride, and it’s a groom.
Except, well, when it’s not.
Just about anybody who loves anybody can get married now. They can buy a home, have children, share a last name. That whole shebang of marriage hasn’t changed. The two people holding hands at the altar, however, have. Quite a bit, in fact, and traditional wedding vows just don’t sit right on the tongues of many modern couples. Vows of old have dark, somber, and foreboding undertones, with the reader often feeling as if God might swoop down and smite them if they were to slight those vows even the tiniest bit.
So, when you’re engaged to be sleeping next to the same snoring, blanket-hogging, pillow-pirate of a person for the rest of your life, how do you come up with new vows that do justice to the connection that you have? Here are three suggestions to guide you to put that indescribable feeling toward your partner into words.
Grasp onto what you feel when you’re observing your partner.
The answer is easy because you already know it. You may be nobody’s poet, but wedding vows don’t require a wordsmith. They just require someone in love. All you have to do is study your partner’s image in your head and what is most important to you will emerge. What naturally floats to the surface of your mind? What scenes from everyday life in your relationship do you think of?
Take the feelings that come along with those snapshots of your partnership and amplify them. Think of your other half calling you to ask if you’ve made it home safely, or putting an apple in your lunch, or leaving a new package of socks on your side of the bed when they’ve noticed most of yours have been riddled with holes. Acknowledge the fact that your love wants you to enjoy a long life of health and comfort with them, and write this in your vows:
“I love you for the way you take care of me, in ways that I often don’t think of. I love you for your selflessness, and I promise that I will try harder to take care of myself, and you, so that there can be a lifetime of us.”
If you don’t already know their love language, you need to.
In case you don’t know, the five love languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. The idea behind them is that every person responds to one love language in particular, and behaviors within that language make them feel more cared for and appreciated than others.
Does your fiancé’s face light up when they come home to you having dinner ready? Do they beam when you tell them how proud you are of their landing a huge client at work? Does your partner blush when you trail your hand across their shoulders as you’re passing by? Include their love language in your vows to show them that you care about what makes them feel noticed.
Gift: “I promise to notice when your eyes linger on a sweater in the department store.”
Service: “I will never let you get overwhelmed. When there are laundry and dishes and bills and work and kids, you can lean on me. I will always be there.”
Affirm: “I promise to be your number-one fan and support you through the challenges you face in life.”
Time: “I will never let our hobbies slip away. I promise to always spend time with you, to appreciate the person that you are.”
Touch: “I promise to hold you when you’re scared. I’ll hold your hand when we’re 50, pull you close when the nights are cold, and sweep you up when you least expect it.”
Picture your life as a pair of humans rather than a couple.
If your better half was to get up and walk away right now, how would your world turn upside down? To burst out of the role of spouse, all you have to do is celebrate what they do that you’re grateful for. In your wedding vows, tell your partner that they are your best friend. Thank them for holding you accountable. For picking up your wet towels, for sending appointment reminders to your calendar, for supporting you, for challenging you.
Thank them for being human with you, for walking through life by your side. When your hands are clasped with the love of your life, and you’re looking across the altar at the imperfect, complex, lovable, frustrating, and captivating creature who wants to marry you, don’t picture them as a husband or a wife. Just picture them as another human who will seamlessly fit into all the little cracks in your life.
And then, do just that. Every day, for the rest of forever, with your perfectly imperfect human by your side.
Photo by Alison Rose