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The Significance of Wedding Vows

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					At the center of any marriage ceremony are the wedding vows. They are the
words spoken by the couple to each other which express both an intent and
a promise. They express how the couple intend to relate to each other,
how they intend to navigate the path of life together, and what meaning
they intend to give to their marriage. They are a promise to work hard at
living out this intent, no matter how challenging that may be, because of
their love and commitment to each other.Because the vows shape the
foundation of the marriage, I believe that they should be carefully
chosen so that they most accurately express what the couple desires to
create in their relationship. While in some situations the vows are
prescribed by religious requirement, where it is possible the couple
should personally select their vows. They should be real and meaningful
to the couple, and be remembered by the couple as they proceed through
life together.In a personalized wedding ceremony there are usually no
prescribed requirements regarding the vows but there are questions
prescribed by law that need to be answered. This means that, in addition
to answering the legal questions, the couple may exchange personalized
vows which uniquely express their intent for their marriage.Wedding vows
are also a great resource for understanding marriage. The words of the
vows usually speak about the meaning and potential of marriage. It is
worth reading through many vows, not only to select the best vow for your
wedding, but also as a way to reflect on marriage and what it means so
that your own relationship can be built on a strong foundation.The famous
words, "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in
health", found in one of the oldest and most traditional vows, are a
beautiful expression of the couple's intent to be there for each other
regardless of the circumstances. It includes the somewhat archaic word,
"cherish". The literal meaning of the word is "to build up". So in this
vow the intent expressed is that as a result of this committed
relationship, each person will become a better person because of the love
and support of the other. This reflects a profound aspect of marriage. It
is a relationship which provides the environment and atmosphere in which
each of the partners is able to flourish and achieve their full
potential.Other vows express the desire to have friendship as the basis
of the marriage. In this understanding the marriage relationship is a
place in which each is respected for who they are, accepting the
differences and encouraging the individuality. It is an expression of a
healthy relationship which is focused on allowing and encouraging the
other to become who they truly are without restricting them and without
attempting to conform them to the expectations, desires and
preconceptions of the self.Some vows promise to hold the other in the
"highest regard". This is a wonderful commitment. Among other things, it
is a promise not to speak in a degrading way to your spouse or about your
spouse. It is a promise to avoid sharing with others, even your close
friends, information that would place your spouse in a negative light.
Gossip and complaints about your husband or wife to friends may seem to
be an innocent subject of conversation, but those are the first signs of
a loss of respect and a moving away from the tremendous potential of the
relationship.Couples may have the option to write their own vows, to
offer different vows to each other, to adapt vows found in various
resources or to follow written vows which most closely express what they
want to say to each other. Whatever their choice, it is important that
the vows they choose are a true expression of the way in which they want
to relate to each other on the journey of their shared lives.

				
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