I have attended quite a few weddings in my life and remember the usual vows taken in these ceremonies. Here’s a sample:
“I take you to be my lawful wedded wife/husband, promise to love and cherish you, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, and forsaking all others keep myself only unto you, for so long as I live.”
But what do those words mean? Love. Cherish. Sickness. Health. Richer. Poorer. Better. Worse. How do those get lived out day after day, year after year, for the rest of your lives together?
Now I’m not a big fan of the old sitcom Roseanne starring Roseanne Barr and John Goodman. However, there is a scene that has stuck with me. In one episode, the characters Dan and Roseanne Connor have accompanied two friends to Las Vegas for help them get married. At the end of the friends’ ceremony, Dan and Roseanne — who have been married for many years — have a chance to renew their vows. Check out the scene. (I’ll wait.)
Having been married quite a few years now myself, I wonder about rewriting the vows. Should the vows be more descriptive, more practical, more blunt?
More specifically, how about the line above “forsaking all others keep myself only unto you”? Yes, we pledge that, just as many of us understand the commandment “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 8:14). But what does that look like in marriage?
My focus on this blog has been sexuality within marriage, and I have heard the struggles of couples who love each other in many ways but are not loving and cherishing as God expects in the bedroom. So I wonder if I went for the Roseanne model and reworded the wedding vows to be more detailed, what could that look like?
…forsaking all others keep myself only unto you. Not only will I “keep it in my pants” around others, so to speak, but I will actively avert my eyes from things that might pull my sexual attention away from you. I won’t look at pornography or ogle others of the opposite sex. I won’t compare you to people from my past or characters in a movie, TV show, or book.
I will make myself sexually available to you and you alone. If I am disinterested in being with you intimately because of my history or hormones or depression or whatever other cause, I will communicate with you and seek help to remedy the issue. I will take my time to develop an intimate relationship with you. I will approach our intimacy as an “us” thing, not merely as a get-me-satisfied thing. I will not demand that you perform sexual acts with which you are uncomfortable, but I will also remain open to ideas that do not contradict God’s Word.
I will do what I can to maintain my health and appearance, and I will focus on your attractive qualities and recognize that bodies change and age happens. I will learn about your body and my body, about sexuality in general, and most importantly about God’s desire for our intimate life together. I will make time for you and our physical intimacy. I will do everything in my power to make it easy and joyous for you to keep yourself only unto me.
Frankly, I would put a few more things in there like “I promise to never wear another pair of whitey-tighties” (don’t like ’em) and “I promise not to fart in bed” (that kills the mood). Maybe you have a few of those too.
And off the topic of sex, I might add getting stuff actually into the laundry hamper, killing the roach without mocking my scream, and not ever-ever wearing that ugly sweater that you know I hate. Then again, I’m sure my husband would have a long list for me!
But kidding aside, we should think about our vows — what they really mean. We promised something to our spouse at the altar. Yes, we said that we would stay together “for better or worse” but we want more of our marriage to be better than worse. We want to always seek that loving, cherishing, keeping to one another experience. What would it look like if we carried out our vows fully, becoming one flesh daily and not simply on that one ceremonial day?
If you could say your vows again, what would you say or want said by your spouse? How would you describe your wishes for your intimate life with your mate?