I’ve been wondering what would happen if people were more honest with their wedding vows.
I think part of the problem is that many people have forgotten that they are “vows” in the sense of “formal and binding promises made before witnesses.” If I tell my wife that I’ll pick up some eggs at the grocery store on the way home from work and I fail to do so, that’s no big deal. If I promise her that I will pick up the eggs and neglect to do so, it’s a bit more serious. I mean I did promise, and a man is only as good as his promises. Now if I went before my in-laws, looked my wife straight in the eyes, and said “I solemnly vow that I will pick up some eggs on my way home from work” and I space out and forget, that’s a much bigger deal. It’s not even about the eggs at that point; what kind of person goes to the trouble of vowing to do something and then doesn’t pull through?
Of course, I might get some forgiveness out of the fact that I simply forgot what I was going to do. I mean, not much since I went to the trouble of making that vow thing so I should at least be expected to write it down on a sticky note or something, but still. In the case of marriage we’ve got a situation where the only way to break the vow is to perform a conscious act, whether that’s filing for a divorce or sleeping with the neighbors. Yet people break their marriage vows all the time. Many people treat it like it’s no big deal. “We weren’t happy anyone, so we got a divorce.” Okay…but what about that vow you made? You know, the one that had something about bad times and sickness and the like? Didn’t you mean the words that were coming out of your mouth?
And that’s the problem. A lot of people don’t mean a word of their vows. They’re just a ceremony that you go through, like getting rice lobbed at your head or shoving cake into your spouse’s face. Both of them knew beforehand that divorce was a legitimate option for ending their partnership. Which is fine, I guess, but dang does it seem dishonest. Why lie to a member of the clergy (or justice of the peace) in front of your extended family? Come on, people change their vows all the time. Why not be simply honest? Maybe say “I swear to stick this out until one of us is no longer happy, or in love, in which case we’ll file for divorce and go our separate ways.” I don’t like divorce, but at least you’re being up front with everyone. Not to mention keeping your honor in case you do divorce.
It doesn’t seem like many people care about honor these days. When you promise to do something you should do it. If you make a freaking vow to an official in front of multiple witnesses and ostensibly (unless you go for a more secular ceremony) God himself shouldn’t you take that a little seriously?
So I’m in favor of honest wedding vows. When I got married I made sure I was ready to commit to the entire vow. I even tweaked a few parts of it, slightly. My wife and I don’t believe in divorce; we’re both willing to stick it out and try to keep our marriage healthy. If you believe differently that’s fine. But for the sake of honor and honesty, can you at least be upfront about exactly what you’re vowing to do? Please?
I promise I’ll appreciate it.