Wedding vows are more than a nice poem. Vows are more even than a promise; a vow is a sacred profession of one’s intentions, it is a dedication of one’s life energy, a new setting on the compass of life’s journey. If the marriage is a boat, then the partners both propel and stear the ship. Like navigators, married couples should return to their vows again and again, rechecking the compass to make sure that they stay true to the course they have set. It is easy to be blown by the storms of life and end up in uncharted seas or dangerous waters far from your intention. It is easy to lose your way, for it is a powerful course the initiation of marriage- the cauldron of creating a new union, a new family. Like a cauldron it will support and contain you, but it will also cook you, stew you and force you to grow and change. Marriage can melt your rough edges, call from you both strength and weakness that you did not know that you had, but if you stay the course, you will be made new again and again, living more fully, more deeply, than perhaps you could alone. Marriage is a great mystery – in it’s highest form it is a union of souls, but that union, rather than diminishing each person to a singular whole, makes each partner stronger and more of an individual than they could be on their own. It Honors the great truth that we need each other deeply, no matter how much we might fear this truth- and- if held deeply, marriage can be a path to your own highest selves.
If you look up your family tree, you will find records of three life events for your ancestors: birth, marriage and death, the three big life transitions. Once born, you are different than you were the moment before your birth. Once dead, you are different than you were the moment before your death. Once married, you are changed, different than you were before you were married. Ritual changes things, taken deeply, it changes the people involved. The wedding is the ritual. The taking of wedding vows is a birth, the birth of a new relationship, a new family, the birth of a wife and a husband. Marriage is also a death, the death of life as an individual, the death of only considering only one’s own needs and desires and the birth of coupleship, of considering the ,needs and feelings of another.
This new relationship like an entity unto itself, and like a new child needs to be nurtured, nourished and cared for.
We are in a time that is not kind to marriage, in a culture that does not support our deepest human needs for love, connection and commitment. We text instead of talk, look at our phones instead of into each other’s eyes, we work too much and play too little, always feeling that we are somehow behind the 8 ball, not enough, believing the lie of materialism, that our worth as people is determined by our bank balance or our clothing size. Believing that if we fix our outsides then our insides will feel better, always striving for some illusive goal that will never be reached. Marriage is a call back to our true selves, a call to reveal who we really are and be love both for that true self and in spite of it. There is a spiritual axiom: as within, so without. By committing to another, you are deepening your commitment to yourself. A healthy marriage needs the one thing most of us have very little of: time.
We must make time to care for this new entity, this new relationship. Time is what builds relationships. Time feeds and nurtures a marriage. Couples must make time for each other; to listen, to share and to just be together. Make room for the mystery of marriage to unfold and reveal itself between you and inside you. Take your vows again and again. Take them if you birth children, revise them as your relationship grows, as you have success and failure, gain and loss, take these vows as you mature and as you age and as you face the mystery of death. Surrender to the principles held within marriage vows, surrender to them over and over again, that you may continue to be changed by marriage again and again and again.