A woman usually remembers everything about her wedding. The cake, dress and flowers. What about the wedding vows? While the promises to your beloved were once shiny and new, sometimes they fade with time. Sounds like they need a good spit-shine!
Recently, I went to a wedding. As I listened to the vows exchanged between the bride and groom before God, friends and family, as well as a massive catering staff, I thought about my own 16-year-old marriage. Did I make those same promises to my spouse? I think I did. I must have. So, what became of some of those vows?
Remember the promise to "love and cherish" and treat my husband as my beloved? I don't refer to him as my "beloved." Most of the time he answers to "Hey you!" or "Boy, are you in trouble, now!"
So, today as I feasted on my reception-sized portion of mixed nuts and cheesecake, I decided to give my own wedding vows an overhaul.
Here are 5 ways to spit-shine one's relationship based on new and improved vows for a well-worn marriage.
1. I promise to be honest
Honesty can take a variety of forms. I vow to be honest in how I am treating others. And, I will accept honesty from those who love me. So, when my husband gently tells me the ratty red sweats acquired 20 years ago from my high school track team must go, I need to trust his honesty and know it originates from a good place.
2. I vow to have and to hold — regular date nights
Grabbing hot dogs from the weiner rack at the corner convenience store does not qualify as going out to dinner. If your husband wants full credit for taking you out to dinner, then the location should at least require patrons to wear shoes. With the distractions of life, it's tempting to consider an evening of Sportscenter accompanied by a visit from Dominos as a well-spent evening. Sometimes, perhaps. But don't get in the habit of accepting this as the best one has to offer. As a newlywed, discovery was a large part of wedded bliss. Sixteen years later, it can still be a shared adventure. My husband and I enjoy trying new places and activities. If we like it, we invite the kids next time and host a fun family night. However, the first night is ours to reconnect and reacquaint ourselves with the person with whom we chose to share our life.
3. In sickness and in health
Few things are more pathetic than a grown man with the flu. It's as if he loses all use of his outer extremities thus requiring the devoted loved one to find a bendable straw for his giant glass of juice, align the TV remotes for easy access and cut his toasted cheese sandwich into four squares. The last time I was sick all I heard was, "Well, I guess I could take the kids to school." Considering the fact I was throwing up so hard I was seeing double, I appreciated the gesture.
While one can't predict the events of another day, my renewed focus for today is shifting towards the "healthy" side of this vow. I promise to stop treating cheese puffs as if they were part of the dairy group. And I promise to encourage healthy activities for my husband and children. Taking walks, playing ball or enjoying a night of bowling are all ways to celebrate our promise to stick with each other in supporting good health — and hope to avoid serious illness.
4. For richer or poorer
Sometimes, this depends on your state of mind, doesn't it? When I am planning a family vacation, I feel rich. The moment I have to start paying for that vacation, I feel like I should be digging through the couch cushions for loose change. While the fiscal climate of a household may change throughout the marriage, my renewed goal is to, at least, try leading a rich meaningful life. While it remains a mystery to me as to why nobody in my house can refill the paper tray in the computer printer besides me, I choose to look beyond those minor annoyances and focus on the rich blessings in my life. Yes, my car is 13 years old and smells like movie theatre popcorn. Nevertheless, it gets me everywhere I need to go. I have purchased my own birthday gift for the past 11 years. However, the gift is always a perfect fit. Despite being married for almost 20 years, my mother-in-law calls me Tammy. Yeah, I can't really defend that one.
Yet, while the men in this house cannot hit a waste basket if their life depended on it, on more than one occasion I have watched while my husband mowed a neighbor's lawn without being asked, or overheard my son gladly help his brother with homework because they both know better than to ask mom how to do Geometry. I feel pretty rich, indeed.
5. I promise to stick by you through joy and sorrow
It seems to me, joy is more of a reaction than something that can be requested. When my husband brings home a cake, it brings me joy. When my husband brings home a cake when I am trying to lose 20 pounds, it makes me crazy. The action wasn't different, but the reaction was the difference between a joyful tone or one of frustration. I will let you newcomers to the game of matrimony in on a little secret: Nobody can make you happy. Personal happiness is your job. Everybody plays a part in bringing joy into a home, and when everyone takes their role seriously in contributing a joyful attitude, it helps build a strong foundation for when sorrow hits. However, if husband comes home with a Mother's Day gift that matches the other clubs in his golf bag, that's not joy nor sorrow. That's just stupid.
J'Nel is a Contributing Editor at FamilyShare.com. When she isn't writing or editing, she is strongly encouraging uncooperative family members to pose for photos, golfing, playing outdoors or reading. While working on degrees in English and Social Work, she visited French Polynesia, parts of South America, Egypt, Indonesia, Europe, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and much of the United States. She remained in town long enough to earn a BA in English from the University of Utah. J'Nel's motto: Have suitcase. Will travel.