As part of an article I was writing for Ezine Articles recently, I realized that I believe that your wedding vows have at least ten jobs that they can do for you. Their work starts as you begin to shape them, is highlighted at your wedding ceremony and continues through your marriage. (If you decide to stay constant, that is!) And this vow is a promise that you will do just that!
Task Number One: Your vows signal to yourself, to your partner and to your community that your deepest desire and highest intention is to join your life and your heart to your beloved. You are no longer interested in being only an individual. You wish your life to grow with and into the life of this beloved partner.
Tip: This work requires some rather delicate balance. Because a good marriage really is about balancing the growth of the individual with the growth of the marriage. Before you get in the marriage car, you need to know that forever is your destination. It’s hard enough to have a successful marriage. Without an explicit acknowledgement of this goal — and its fundamental importance in each of your lives — you’re far less likely to get to where you want to go. What’s the baseball quote by someone famous whose name The Wedding Priestess can’t remember: If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re likely to get there!
Wedding Priestess doesn’t care what anyone says. Weddings are about marriages and not about brides. The star of the wedding ceremony and the reception is the loving relationship, not the wedding décor or the bride’s dress. You want to look fabulous and feel fabulous, but you have hard work to do that day. You’re saying yes to sharing your life with this perfect partner.
If you keep your focus on the relationship as the source of the wedding (rather than vice versa!), your wedding ceremony will be deeply personal and meaningful and your celebration will flow easily and naturally from your community’s excitement for you.
This can eliminate a lot of nasty problems
- bridezilla and groomzilla – if you’re celebrating your relationship and looking forward to making your marriage makes, you don’t hear as much about the wail: “it’s all about me.”
- bizarre bridesmaid behavior – it’s not about them either.
- fabulous parties that mean nothing – keeping the focus where it belongs keeps people celebrating what is true and wonderful: your love.
Tip: As you plan your wedding keep your focus on your very sweet relationship and your dreams for a successful marriage. The wedding ceremony will be meaningful, the wedding reception joyous, and the marriage successful. Keep it Simple, Sweetheart! (yeah, and lots of kisses!)
This was always my original position and it still makes more sense to me in a handfasting ceremony: Don’t have someone tie your hands together.
Let your hands fasten on one another in a free-willed clasp, right hand to right hand and left to left. This is such a strong visual. Your arms and bodies form an infinity circle that is fluid and adjusts easily. That’s what you want from a wedding. That’s what you want for a marriage.
In this way you aren’t tied together, you’re joined in love and by love. At any point you could let go hands – but you don’t.
The ropes are the wrong image anyway. It seems that originally, as the woman became a member of the family, she was brought “under the plaid” or under the protection of the man’s family. The plaid was clothing and bed covering. All over the world there are ceremonies that celebrate the couple’s joining in the marriage bed by enfolding them in a blanket. (previous cultures were a little lustier than ours and a little clearer about the marriage’s relationship to establishing a lineage!)
Tip: So you decide which way you want to go in your wedding ceremony. But whether you join hands or not, this is a lovely ceremony that will, if you let it, evoke memories of your dreams for marriage, how much you loved each other as you stood, bound in love, promising one another tomorrow, on the day that you married. That image will live with you for years!
Nothing is harder to deal with in marriage than money. Giving it your full attention at the beginning, figuring out what is real for both of you and then how you’re going to deal with it is important. This can be a hard place for honesty, if money was never talked about where you grew up, you’re going to have to learn new skills. And if there’s debt or bankruptcy, it may feel excruciating to reveal what may feel like failures. But you’re getting married and getting intimate. So, get going!
- How much money do you make a pay period?
- Does the money taken out of your check cover your taxes at the end of the year?
- How much money do you spend a pay period. Yep, keep one of those little books for at least 2 weeks.
- How often do you look honestly at your money?
- Do you have a budget and do you keep to it?
- What did you learn at home about money? What was said, what was unsaid but implied? Was it talked about easily and openly? Was there enough? Was it hoarded or squandered? Was there panic, or calm about money?
- What has been your reaction to what you learned at home? Do you do it the same way?
- Are you an impulse shopper? What’s the last thing you bought on impulse? Do you use it? What’s the last BIG thing you bought on impulse? Do you use it?
- Do you buy on credit or do you wait until you have the cash?
- What’s your debt level? Credit Card, Student Loan, Mortgage?
- How much of your paycheck goes to finance debt?
- What’s your saving level?
- Do you have money if you become unemployed?
- Do you have a lot of things you don’t need?
- Do you have a lot of things you don’t use?
- How were you planning to pay for your wedding?
Tip: Compare them with your beloved’s. Is this too hard? Find a counselor or a financial planner to work with. Then once you’ve got your personal stuff laid out, you need to look at what you’re taking on with the marriage. It’s now one relationship. No more his or her debt; it’s your debt. You want to get it cleared up and out of the way. You want to clarify your financial goals. You want to design a budget that works. You want to put someone in charge of it. You both want to agree to how it will be administered, and by whom and what the exceptions are. You want to be trustworthy about your money stuff. Knowing and trusting one another in this area will cement your marriage together. The rewards are extraordinary.
What we value is an outgrowth of where we find meaning. Each of us must do the work to understand our belief system and our family and communal heritage. Then we must communicate that to our partners. There is still more work to be accomplished, however. You want to get it done before planning your wedding ceremony (or maybe, more realistically begin this work, because this is a work in progress!). That way your wedding ceremony and your wedding vows will be able to speak to who you are and what you value. It will celebrate the deep value have for one another. That’s a marriage your community is going to support. If you don’t look at those things, you are likely to communicate other things to your community: such as how you’ve not really thought very deeply about this important step you’re taking.
There’s not a lot of discussion about Moral Intimacy. While the two of you may be deeply moral people (and most people are), you may not have taken the time to clarify your own code of ethics, let alone heard your partner articulate his or hers. Think of your ethics as how you express your belief system in the world.
- What are your deepest values?
- How do you act upon them?
- How do you act against them?
- What are your values and characteristics of which you are most proud?
- What are your partner’s values and characteristics which you most admire?
- Where are your values most compatible?
- Where do you think you might need some clarification of values so that you can deepen your compatibility?
- How are your values supported by your community?
- Where do your values conflict with your community?
- How do you want to resolve those conflicts?
Tip: People with wildly divergent religious and spiritual beliefs can have very similar values. Family upbringing and community nurturing instill values in all of us. You want your values to work for you. You want to live in close alignment with your values. When your partner’s and your values are both known and integral to your life, you will be living as you want to live, together. You’ll want to communicate that in your wedding ceremony and in your wedding vows. Even more importantly, you’ll want to live it out in your marriage. Knowing who you are and who your partner is will lessen the struggle in your marriage and heighten the pleasure. Get clear and get going!