Marriage Renewal Vows: Making Promises That Matter Every Day

How many couples regularly check in to see if their behaviors match their original wedding vows? Recently, I visited a friend who is going through one of the most stressful times in a marriage—the arrival of baby number two. Their attention is now divided between two children, with its juggling of daycare and jobs, and the time they have for each other is limited. She spoke of a lack of affection and intimacy between them, as well as an impatience that permeates their interactions. She admitted to feeling sad at the realization that they veered far off the path of their original promises to each other on their wedding day, the promises to be patient and kind to one another. Marriage vows that promise life-long commitment and “til death do you part” are important, but what about the vows that dictate the day-to-day behaviors of kindness and teamwork? Adherence to the simpler vows may actually make the difference between making it to “death do you part” or not.

Helen and Sydney
Helen & Sydney, still surprising each other after 70 years

Global Glue Project couple, Helen & Sydney, discuss their 70 years of marriage and the role of their wedding vows and basic kindness toward one another. I am not sure if Sydney declared devotion as part of their vows, but his devotion is an integral part of their success according to Helen, “Sydney’s devotion to me is a phenomenal thing, he always says nice things about me…he always makes me feel special.” Sydney took their vows to each other to heart and honored them during their relationship. “The point is,” he said, “that when we got married and they said, ‘you get married for better or worse, ‘til death do you part,’ I took it very seriously when I broke the glass.”

In the same vein, Global Glue couple Sharon &  Jermaine discussed the importance of their wedding vows. “When I think about our marriage vows it says, ‘For better or worse.’ I believe during Hurricane Katrina was our worst” Sharon continued, “I could have easily said forget this… I could stay here in my comfort zone, but I thought about my vows, for better or for worse.”

Vows are a binding promise. If you are in a marriage, consider taking a closer look at your vows and whether you are adhering to them. If those vows did not include day-to-day declarations such as, “I vow to be kind, to use a nice tone of voice when talking to you, and to greet you at the door lovingly when you come home at the end of a long day,” perhaps it’s time.

You don’t have to renew or even re-exchange your wedding vows to renew a marriage, and you don’t even have to discuss it with your partner. Simply recommit yourself to the original intent, and if those day-to-day vows were not in your original exchange consider vowing to show up in a loving way regularly. It’s the little things that matter. We all have our bad days, but when we vow to be kind to our partner, “For better or worse” just may become a binding promise that is actually attainable.

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