Metaphors work, as I’ve pointed out. But what you want is for them to work well. You’re looking for them to help out your marriage. So, choose a metaphor that will help you.
4. The image should be “contagious” and appealing. It should be something that people can understand quickly.
Hallmark does so well because it uses metaphors that appeal to us. Your job is to find something that appeals specifically to you, but is completely graspable by your community.
Part of the lovely nature of metaphor is that it takes something complex and simplifies it for us. OH, your love is like a game of tennis between two friendly and seasoned competitors. Good volleys, interesting shots, as much interest in an enjoyable game as in winning the point. (No, really, there are people like that!)
Tip: Find a metaphor that is attractive. Something you would want in your life on a daily basis. Something simple you can work with on a daily basis and then let it help you grow a great marriage.
You want metaphors that last through time because you want your marriage to last through time. Therefore:
3. The image should be enduring.
Even flowers have cycles. So build an image that includes the cycles, the fragility and the strength that lie behind the blossom.
So if you’re going to talk about a rose, don’t just talk about the blossom. Remember what Linda Ronstadt’s song said: “Love is a rose, you’d better not pick it, it only grows when it’s on the vine. Handful of thorns and you know you’ve missed it, lose your love when you say the word mine.”
Tip: If you’re going to use something like a rose, use the bush, rather than the cut flower. Celebrate the way the flower blossoms and then turns inside during winter. You can find stuff to work with here that will make your wedding ceremony sparkle and your marriage sizzle.
For metaphors to work well, they need to have reference to our lives. Once we’ve set them up, the more reminders we have of them, the stronger the connections they’ll make for us.
2. The image should be pertinent to where you are.
If you’re starting out your life on the prairie, don’t choose the ocean as your metaphor. The prairie offers plenty of wide expanses for exploring! Do you live in a city, where life is vibrant, pulsing and exciting. Or in a forest where life is stately and slow?
Tip: think about those things that are essential in your relationship. Then look for a metaphor that speaks to that characteristic. Then, once you’ve found a way to use it in your wedding ceremony, start bringing it into your daily life. If your life is expansive as the prairie is expansive, start taking a daily walk in the prairie. Now you’re not only spending time together, you’re walking that metaphor into your heart and marriage.
You want to find one good metaphor to use at your wedding ceremony. Metaphors can lodge in our psyches and remain there to encourage us. Ritual activities and metaphors that we use ceremonially will remind us for the rest of our life of how we felt when they were first employed. Something as simple as a metaphor can strengthen your marriage for the rest of your life.
1. The image should be pertinent to who you are.
You don’t want to talk about relationship as a stewpot, blending your life into a flavorful broth, if your relationship is built on or at least more like extreme sports. (Be careful about choosing a metaphor or activity that you might not always be able to do. Babies, health, careers can make demands on lives and marriages and triathlon training may not get to be the center of your life always and forever!)
You would only talk about relationship as a stewpot if you LIKED stew, or were foodies. You would only talk about relationship as a journey if you enjoyed journeying together.
Tip: The more familiar the metaphor to your life, the better it will work for you.
Metaphors are those word pictures that allow us to “get it” very quickly.
If you say that your life together is like a pot of fragrant and delicious stew constantly cooking on the stove, constantly changing and transforming, you get a pretty good idea what is important. You are saying that marriage simmers, nurtures, and delights. You are offering a metaphor that will surface time and time again (if you cook). Because every time one of you makes a pot of stew, or even better when you learn to make it together, being respectful of one another’s tendencies with the spices, you will be reminded of your wedding day and the promises you made and the dreams you had for your married life. All that from a stewpot.
Tip: At your wedding ceremony you have the opportunity to create small ritual activities, ones that make sense in your life now and that you will want to carry on for the rest of your life. Repeating an action that occurred in a ritual moment will call back all of the emotions of that moment.