I heard on the radio this morning one of those check-to-see-if-your-loved-one-is-cheating things. A call is made to a partner by a radio personality. They are offered a weekend getaway at a resort and when asked who they would like to bring they tell them a name. For some, it is a good thing, as they wait on the line and hear that their loved one chose to bring them. For others, it is a painful experience to hear another’s name said, meaning they want to bring someone else on a romantic weekend getaway.
On this particular call, the woman, who has cancer, was worried her husband was cheating (did I forget to mention it’s Valentine’s day?). The husband said he would like to bring another woman on the weekend. The wife cried out in despair. Much to her husband’s surprise, she was on the line. She began to sob, and things continued to spiral. When asked what he was thinking, he said, “I didn’t sign up for this." It was utterly heartbreaking.
When I counsel couples or take part in their wedding ceremonies, I try to make some points.
One. You don’t get to write your vows. Yes, it can be meaningful, and yes you can express things more clearly. However, the traditional wedding vows were penned to cover much more than mere sentiment. One of the vows says “In sickness and health.” This vow can be incredibly challenging and test everything about marriage. The reason you make the promise is to commit. The ring is a reminder of your commitment. Save the written promise for the reception. This guy either didn’t make this commitment or forgot what he promised.
Two. You have to remind yourself of WHY you made your commitment. Consistent reminders of why help you “re-up” with your vows. Every day, week, month, and year you recommit to your wedding vows.
Three. Marriage is a promise never to stop working on the relationship. It is not a promise to always like or even love your spouse. It is a promise not to quit working on it.
Four. You need people around you to help. It doesn’t mean the apron strings stay tied or the umbilical cord is uncut. It means you have others around you who are as dedicated as you are to this thing working. Having wise, carrying people walk with you while you honor your vows is critical.
Will this ensure happiness and safety in life and marriage? No. Many who have done these things and more have become divorced or lost their relationship in some way. There is no bullet proofing your relationships. They take lots of work. They require more than we have to offer at times. There is no “easy.” But, they are worth it. What couples produce when they stick with it, make it healthy and work at it is truly beautiful. Even cancer can’t tear that apart.
I wish they guy on the phone understood that.