It’s time for the next installment of our relationship series with Brenda Dow, Bliss + Balance with Brenda!
Each month, Brenda shares her insights and expertise on navigating the potentially stressful & sometimes tumultuous process of planning your wedding and even more importantly how to support a successful marriage! Today’s post is focusing on vows, the meaning behind them, and how to keep them at the forefront of your relationship.
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To love. honor, and cherish, till death do us part.
Whether using such traditional words as these, or creating personalized versions, couples typically profess vows of some sort during a marriage ceremony.
Are vows enough, though, for relationship bliss and balance?
Agreeing on Vows
If pledging to love, honor, cherish, or other similar sentiments, then what exactly is meant by those words?
Is how you define, measure, or evaluate those promises the same for your beloved? If YES, how do you know for sure? If NO, how do you bridge differences?
While my husband and I both made the same exact vows to each other on our wedding day, carrying those forward and living them out in daily life was an entirely different situation.
- First of all, we found we didn’t always remember all the words we each professed on our wedding day.
- Second. we weren’t aware that we each had different perspectives regarding the meaning of the words we stated.
- Third, we never had a means for holding our own self or each other accountable.
- Fourth, when a crisis or temptation surfaced, the wording of our vows did not always provide the guidance needed for how to effectively face challenges.
As imperfect people, our words and actions individually and as a couple could never result in anything even closely resembling a “perfect marriage.”
Going Beyond Vows
No matter how in love we were, no matter all the good intentions and deep resolve we each had in taking vows on our wedding day, vows alone did not — and could not — ensure balance and bliss in our married life.
As the months passed, we each experienced disappointment, unmet expectations, and hurt as two imperfect people wed to each other.
Fortunately, in seeking ways to improve our marriage, we discovered the powerful relationship-building tool referred to as a “couples bill of rights.”
One look at a sample “bill of rights” and we immediately saw a number of ways in which problems were created. We also saw in the wording of those rights how we could better solve problems that had arisen between us as well as limit misunderstandings moving forward.
What’s the Difference?
Vows were an oath we made to each other. Rights were things we discussed in advance and came to agreement on jointly before enacting.
For example, I vowed to honor my husband. He made that same vow to me.
However, in creating a bill of rights we mutually agreed to the right of consulting each other in advance, the right of each having our own opinion about issues, and the right of expressing those different perspectives and being heard by the other, even if we disagreed.
Once we both got clear on what each of us expected and meant by the words “to honor,” our ability to be successful in doing soon skyrocketed.
Here’s the Best Part
The good news is that a couple can have a bill of rights at any stage of their relationship.
Additionally, the rights can be expanded as the relationship advances and clarified as new situations arise.
Engaged couples who discuss adopting a bill of rights before their marriage set themselves up for better communication earlier in their relationship-building process.
The agreed-upon rights may also help inform any vows to be written and pledged before a couple marries. In such situations, vows build upon already established rights and may serve as a more powerful transition and rite of commitment as vow-professed spouses.