Authored by: Jim Emerson
May 16, 2018

“I promise not to date another person for as long as our marriage lasts.” Really? No kidding? After picking my jaw up off the floor, I wondered what was going through the bride’s mind as she heard her soon-to-be-spouse express his undying love and commitment. I think most of us agree that this is not the most romantic wedding vow, or the best way to start off a marriage.

Most guests attending a wedding are there to join in the celebration of two people coming together. We are hopeful that the new couple will honour their vows and work together so that their marriage will not only last, but flourish over the years.

Recently there has been an expectation that couples will write their vows to one another. Vows that contain a balance of humour and commitment. Unfortunately, many times the words of commitment fall short in expressing how excited they are to be spending the rest of their lives together, and the humour is often embarrassing and/or inappropriate. We suggest that given some of the vows we have heard as Officiants, some couples should stick to a more traditional vow and leave the humour to Amy Schumer. However, if you decide to express your inner most feelings by writing your own promises, here are some suggestions to help you write attainable and meaningful wedding vows:

I promise to prioritize our marriage.
“Couple time” is one of the building blocks of a healthy marriage. Promise to spend time together – to prioritize your marriage – even when life gets in the way. Don’t let the kids soccer practice or work get in the way. This vow is both attainable and it demonstrates that you really want your marriage to last.

I promise to say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me”.
Sometimes couples overreact in a situation, misunderstand their spouse’s intentions or just have a bad day. It’s at times like this when things can be said that are hurtful and regrettable. Often one of the most challenging parts of a marriage is misinterpreting something that is said and reacting with a flippant or off-the cuff comment.

So, in your vows tell your partner that when something you say is hurtful, it’s wasn’t intentional. Promise that you will apologize quickly and ask her/him to forgive you – and really, really mean it.

I will do my best, but I can’t promise to make you happy every day.
We often hear couples promise to make their partner happy every day of their life. It sounds great, a loving promise for sure, but it’s unrealistic. It’s not achievable. It assumes that one partner will be responsible for the other’s happiness and that’s not how a marriage works. So, for a marriage to grow each partner must take responsibility for their own actions and not rely on their spouse to make them happy every day.

I promise to be all in.
Marriage is an unconditional promise to your partner – a 100% commitment, not a 50/50 partnership. It’s about honouring, respecting and serving the other person. Not because you expect something in return, or if they deserve it or not, but because you love them. So, promise your partner that you’re all in – today and forever.

I promise to communicate my feelings honestly and openly.
Sometimes we expect our spouse to be able to sense our emotions and read our minds. Without open communications however, it’s unrealistic to expect them to know what you’re thinking.

Promise to communicate. Openly and clearly. Work together towards a common goal and be realistic about your future together. This will help you get through life’s most challenging situations and reassure your partner that this is for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

We appreciate that it’s difficult to summarize your feelings for one another in just a few sentences. However, if you use these suggestions you will exchange promises that are both attainable and foundational for a long and joyous marriage.

So be yourself, be open, be honest, and you will have succeeded in writing attainable and meaningful wedding vows.

About the Author: Jim Emerson

Jim Emerson has helped over 1,100 couples reduce the stress of creating their personal and unique wedding ceremony. He is a husband, father, friend, author, triathlete, handyman, teacher and passionate about his family and work. Jim can help you imagine, create and celebrate your dream wedding ceremony. Contact him today, he’d love to hear from you.