Wedding vows come in packs and when you think about it you realize that there are quite a few of them.
We promise to love and to cherish, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, and on and on ad infinitum. And when we promise this stuff we probably mean it at the time. But as the years rattle by, those vows can wear thin and the promises made become little more than a distant memory.
But maybe the problem isn’t with us. Maybe there are just too many promises to live up to and maybe, just maybe, we should consider an alternative to the traditional vows we take on our wedding day and make the whole thing a matter of multiple-choice.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just select the vows we were most comfortable with and leave the rest behind? You could choose one from column A and two from column B and perhaps eliminate the awkward reality that living up to so many promises at once can bring. For instance, let’s say sickness really freaks you out but you don’t mind clipping coupons. You could just opt out of the “In sickness and in health” part of the ceremony and keep the “For richer or poorer” section. Of course, you’d probably be hoping you’ll be richer than poorer as the years drift by but, as I’ve said, to each her own.
And you could add things that really bug you like promising never to leave dirty dishes in the sink. Or you could swear that you’ll never drag your husband along on shoe shopping junkets as long as he doesn’t force you to accompany him to the hockey games for which he has season tickets. Really, life is a series of compromises, so why not make your vows a series of compromises as well and cut out all the guilt and worry predicated upon vows you promise to keep until you are parted by death. And that’s another thing. When the traditional marriage vows were created back in the stone age, life expectancy was 30 or 40 years tops, so you didn’t have to make promises and keep them for over a half century; you and your mate would have long since been dead by then.
I have been divorced for several years now but the question that still nips at my heels after all this time is this: what compelled me to make promises I couldn’t keep? Looking back, I realize I was more enamored with the thought of marriage than I was in love with the actual institution (or him) and I wanted to be a wife more than I wanted to ask the tough questions like ‘What does marriage mean to you?” and “Where do you see us in 40 years?” Even so, if I’d had the option of selecting from a menu of vows, maybe everything would have worked out. My expectations might have been more reasonable and I would have gone into the marriage with my eyes wide open instead of wearing the blinders spun of romantic dreams, unrealistic hopes and promises. Who knows? I can only promise you one thing on that score; I certainly don’t.