Whether you’re getting married in Hawaii or on the mainland, on the beach or in a church, one thing is for sure: you are going to be promising something to your partner. So how do you go about finding the right words? It seems like such a daunting task many decide to leave the job to a minister, but it doesn’t need to be so overwhelming. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow:
• Don’t get pressured into promising anything that you’re not ready to. If you’re not sure, then don’t postpone the whole wedding, just rearrange the words until you are sure. No one ever said you had to say or do anything specific. There are no rules (you don’t even have to say “until death do us part”!) - it’s your wedding. Your vows should reflect you, not your family or church unless that’s also what you believe. Avoid doing thing because someone else wants you to.
• Wedding vows do not have to be symmetrical. Just because one person is ready to promise something that the other one is not yet ready to, doesn’t mean anything is wrong or that the vows must be the same for both parties. It is perfectly fine for one person to say something that the other one does not say, or says a little differently. No one will probably notice anyway, and it’s more authentic.
• The more authentic your vows are the more likely they are to be followed. It’s better to have a marriage that lasts with vows that are followed than lofty vows committed to in a marriage that ends in divorce. If you’re the person pressuring someone else to promise something they are not fully ready to, think about this deeply!
• Start by making a simple list of the 5 or 10 most important qualities in life (not just relationships) to you (not your partner). Sit and reflect on these for days or months. Make your vows individual and base them (loosely) around what’s important to you. For example, if you found something like ‘honesty’ on your list of important values, than add a line in your vows that promises to try your best to be fully honest. Consider asking your partner to add in a similar line if this is really important to you, but do not demand that they do. Also, try not to be attached. It may turn out that your partner does not value a certain trait as much as you do. Everyone is at a different place in their own unique evolution and it does not mean that they will be more dishonest just because they don’t feel called to formally promise honesty.
• Don’t judge your partner based on their vows. In our example of ‘honesty’ it may turn out that one partner is not ready to promise anything yet because they have their own path to follow. It may turn out that they need to grow or learn about a certain quality before being ready. If a certain quality is important to you, live it! Embody it fully. Your partner will grow with you and vice versa. It is very possible that it may be years before your partner learns (probably from your example) about a quality enough to make promises around it or embody it as much as you do. This is perfectly okay!
• Remember, we are not all the same, and don’t need to be - how boring would it be to marry yourself!?
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