Marriage is a commitment. While some people view marriage as a legal/personal commitment only, others view it as a sacred vow before God.
Marriage says you will stand by one another through better or worse, richer or poorer til death. Is this realistic? Or is this only some idealistic dream that fairy tales are made of? Do we, in fact, set ourselves up for failure in marriage by the very vows we declare as a means of staying together?
I know so many people who are unhappily married. Either one or the other partners just stop trying. The wife may deny sex to the husband just because she has decided she no longer likes it. The husband may emotionally withdraw, leaving his wife feeling lonely and unloved. Both of these reasons can lead to one or both partners straying as a means to find happiness, but they are too committed to the marriage itself to actually call it quits. They may not want to hurt the family, so they carry on secret lives in the hopes nobody will find out. They see this as the lesser of two evils...not quite as bad as completely breaking up a family. At least they are honoring their "commitment".
I know people who stay in either physically or emotionally abusive relationships in order to honor their marital commitment. After all....they vowed "for better or worse". Right?
But is this fair? Should a person be expected to be a martry for his entire life in order to honor a commitment in the hopes his partner will change? To me it seems like a lot to ask of a person.
There are a lot of couples who live out their lives together in love. Look in the paper and you will see couples celebrating fifty and sixty years of marital bliss. And yes, it does tug at the heartstrings and make you believe in the possibilities. But could it be that these couples just got it right? Could it be that these couples ended up marrying the person they truly were meant to marry?
We are flawed human beings. We make mistakes every single day of our lives. We screw up at our jobs and get fired. We disappoint one another and make bad decisions all the time. Why would we think that we always choose the right person to marry? Is it not possible that we can make a mistake from time to time? Is it not possible that we might choose a wrong partner when we are young? Is it fair to expect that we live with a bad decision for the rest of our lives?
I think the marriage vows should be changed to a more realistic version. I think it might make a couple think twice before walking down the aisle.
I think the vow should go something like this:
I, ......., take thee,....to be my lawfully wedded husband. I promise to do my best to love you to the best of my ability, and I expect you to do the same. If ever I stop trying to love you, or if ever you stop trying to love me, then we will seek marriage counseling immediately as a means of showing we hold our marriage in high regard. If, after counseling, either one of us is still not trying, then that will nullify these vows which we made. It will mean that we have committed emotional infidelity. If, after counseling, we feel a renewal in our commitment to love one another, then we will continue on. This vow I make before God, who tells us that we should "do unto others as we would have them do unto us".....and that we should "love our neighbor as ourselves". By saying these vows, I am showing that I place myself in high regard and that I will treat you with love and respect. In saying this vow to me, you will be declaring the same. May God bless our marriage.
No, it's not as romantic as the current traditional vows, but in my mind it is much more realistic. Marriage was never meant to be a life sentence. It was meant to be a loving partnership.