Vera Long’s comment about contemporary couples and marriage vows got me to thinking. She was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, “Today people stand up in front of the altar and pledge their lives and don’t mean it.”
Is this true? I wondered.
Do brides and grooms ignore the significance of their wedding vows? Do they consider the profound commitment they are making to another person when they promise to stay with that person through riches or poverty, sickness or health, and until death parts them?
Back in the days when I was single, before I got married 19 years ago, I sweated, feared, and trembled at times over making such life-long vows because I figured once I made them I would stick to my word. This was my sense of integrity, honesty and commitment. I was not going to tell a woman I would be at her side forever if there was a chance I would break my promise. So when I decided to marry, I went through some deep soul-searching first to be sure I was making the right decision.
I realize intent is one thing, and what actually happens is another. People can go into a relationship with the best of intentions, but learn through trial and experience, change may be necessary to preserve sanity and civility. Divorce happens.
To prevent a few more divorces, though, and after pondering Vera’s comment, I hypothesized a different set of vows for those who have yet to catch the true meaning of love and are unsure about making a long term commitment.
They could promise something like, “I promise to stay with you as long as you are nice to me, do what I want, and keep me happy,” or something similar. This sentiment might be truer to some people’s intentions when they march to the altar and sign the contract.
But then what would happen? Would anyone marry another with such a loose and one-sided commitment? I suppose a few may. But for those who are serious about long-term happiness, I think they might reconsider. Focus on self is not the foundation of an enduring relationship. Unselfish giving and caring is absolutely required.
Blatant and open honesty at the altar might prevent some ill-fated marriages from occurring in the first place. And this would be a good thing.
Vera Long has been happily married for over 60 years to the love of her life, Charles Long. I’m sure Vera and Charles have worked through many difficult and trying times that tested their commitment to each other. But their marriage has stood the test of time, thus far, and they have set a good example for others to learn from.
I’m happy to report that my marriage is thriving too, for which I am grateful. I did make the right decision 20 years ago!
Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Be not in haste to take the vow ‘until death do us part.’ Consider its obligations, its responsibilities, its relations to your growth and to your influence on other lives.”
Marriage is a serious commitment. The vows we make should be taken seriously and only after careful deep thought. Isn’t it reasonable to say that our steadfastness to those vows says a lot about how seriously we take other promises we make as well?
Marry for love, but be sure its true love! True love is spiritual, and it endures forever.