February 10, 2016
By: Laura Bradley
Reflecting back on our wedding day brings back joyful memories. “It was the best day of my life,” many say with pride. It was, after all, a marvelous, happy day filled with anticipation, love and promise.
Promises were made that day in the form of wedding vows. Many couples write their own vows, making them very personal and unique. Others partially write them, or consciously choose traditional vows. In every case, the couples are making promises to each other, creating a foundation on which to build their relationship and move forward.
Weddings are hectic events. Preparations beforehand are intense. The day flies by in a flurry. Before we know it our vows, captured on video or written on paper, are stored away with treasured wedding keepsakes. And we forget what we promised.
Our vows don’t have to be stored away. Rather, they can be an incredibly useful tool in creating and sustaining the relationship we want with our partner. Consider your written wedding vows as an actionable, living document – living in the sense that the vows can evolve and change just as you do. You can add new vows, and tweak or remove others to fit changes in your life, such as children, living in a new city, additional commitments, etc. Each vow can be made actionable by identifying what that vow looks like, for you and your partner. Think about what the vow means to you, the things that you have done that exhibit this and new activities that will benefit your relationship. Here is a format you can use along with a few examples of wedding vows and corresponding activities.
To revisit our vows and be aware of our promises, the first step is to bring them out of storage and make them visible – whether on a simple piece of paper, or as an attractive document – it helps when our vows can be seen to help us consciously create our relationship.
A foundation for your relationship vision
What does a deep loving relationship mean for you and your partner? What does it look like for you in relation to family, friendships, career, activities, spirituality, etc. Consider your vows (original or revised/evolved): how do these words and their corresponding actions support your vision for your relationship? How will you keep your focus on your relationship vision?
One way to stay aware is to write out your vows and read them together every day for 30 days. It may feel repetitive at first, but, as you strengthen your awareness, you’ll consciously make decisions that support your relationship vision to the point that these decisions will become more and more automatic. You’ll have created an automatic pathway in your decision-making. After doing this exercise, one person expressed “I feel so good about my relationship!”
Feeding your relationship
For relationships to thrive, they need to be active. Activity feeds relationships. Activities such as revising and reading your vows are part of that. Being curious about one another, doing things together, trying new things and being tolerant of differences helps partners to grow together, sustaining their relationship for decades, through good times and bad.