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How to Write Vows to Live by.....
By Mrs Jacklyn Cimino CMC, Melbourne
21 April 2010

  Your Wedding day is approaching. You have the location booked, the menu is set, the hottest wedding band around has been hired, the color scheme has been chosen, the rings have been purchased. The cake has been ordered  ( a five -tiered creation draped in edible pearls and hydrangea blossoms that cost a pretty penny).  The one - of - a -kind dream wedding dress and the bridesmaid gowns , flower girl dresses and maid of honors dress have been bought and fitted to perfection. Groomsmen are fitted out perfectly and the honeymoon is booked.Phew!!!  . All the important things are done!, but are they ?

What else is there to do?? Oh, yes...there's the ceremony. The time when you get the opportunity to express to the world , the true reason why you have chosen to get married in the first place.

There are many couples out there who get handed their vows for the first time at their wedding rehearsal, a formulaic " repeat after me" script. To some, this may be enough to them, but to others it may not. There is no right or wrong way to have a wedding. I would like to raise the possibility, however, that once you have decided to get married , you have the opportunity to plan a wedding that reflects your intention.

The wedding- planner industry isn't going to like me for saying it, but I think we've lost the heart and soul of the wedding amid the emphasis on everything but the sacredness of the vows. The ceremony too often becomes an afterthought to the big party that follows. And we wonder why so many couples get the post-wedding blues, as if the wedding were an ending, not a beginning.

What happens is very clear, many people lose sight of the significance and beauty of the ritual itself. It is hard to think that you can plan a wedding for 2 years, giving little thought to your marriage, and then think that somehow, magically, everything will work out fine. This is a lie and a fantasty and it will steal your happiness  everytime. May I invite you to consider bringing intention and meaning back into your big day. Bring back your vows to their proper place as the centerpiece of your wedding, a meaningful prelude to the life you want to live together. Writing your own vows  is the way , maybe, to do this.

So if you've decided to write your own vows, because you want them to have special personal meaning. where do you begin?  Surfing the internet can always offer some suggestions in the way of poetry, readings and other people ‘s vows. Some so beautiful that it can move you to tears. But you need to ask yourself, are you going to remember these vows in 2,5,or 10 years time.? Are they going to be and remain the centerpiece of your married life, the rock by which you base all your intentions, the promises that are so sacred and true to your heart that they are naturally abided by and upheld everyday without much thought or effort?

The vows you speak are the public manifestation of a private promise. They need to feel so right and alive that you can feel and live them while you're busy living your real, everyday life. And that  you will use them as an anchor when your marital ship has drifted off course.

Let me suggest a formula that has proven worthwhile and successful when writing personal vows. State your intentions!! I have found that 4 intentions need to be included in these writings:

  • 1. Core beliefs and commitments, grounded in reality.
  • 2. Acceptance of you and your partner's individuality and needs: This is your promise to witness the other as he or she is, to perform acts of love, to share yourself, and to support your partners best self.
  • 3. The acknowledgement of the brokenness and possibility of life. This is the promise to help each other up when you fall, to hold each other accountable with respect, dignity, and compassion, and to always look for the possibility in life for opportunities to repair what is broken.
  • 4. Embrace the world around you. This is your commitment to share your love and time with families, friends and the wider community.

These are all ‘ living words', meaning words that reflect a reality and a promise that you can keep. For example, to say " I will love you for all eternity", sounds beautiful, but it is not a promise you can keep.

The following is an example of living vows:

I promise......

*To seek the truth when tempted by lies.

*To stay present when I want to turn away.

*To choose compassion when anger feels easier.

*To embrace your needs and care about them like my own.

*To give and receive comfort during hard times.

*To share my heart with those you love.

*To make your family people that I care about because you do.

*To nurture you with honesty, joy and passion

*To grow with you.

*To be a witness to your life and invite you to be a witness to mine.

These are really powerful, moving statements because they are set in truth; they speak to you and your partner's individuality and needs; they accept the brokenness of life as well as its possibility and they embrace a larger world than just your union.

Using the 4 intentional elements, you can now begin to construct and create your vows as your own.

( * Lies at the altar, the truth about great marriages, Dr. Robin L.Smith)

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