I solemnly promise to love the person you are becoming.
I wish I could return to my wedding day and write my own vows.
To vow: to solemnly promise to do a specified thing. Can't exactly be specific if we're using vows that have been used for a hundred years or more by countless couples, half of which have retracted their vows and separated.
Why are we even allowed to use canned vows? At the very least, solemn vows specific to each couple and partnership should be required to receive the marriage license, no? Let me step down from my soapbox.
Over this latest family trip, my partner and I watched the sunset together a handful of nights in Matakana: the evening birdsong, light fading, sheep grazing, stars appearing, the two of us together, taking in all of these sensations, talking about our relationship, our family, the anticipated impact of this trip on our daughters and on each other. Now these are vows.
These are solemn promises we were considering at that very moment, in the now, promises we were making together. But in addition to being specific, these vows are waypoints for our journey, not inflexible pillars of a monolithic structure built on tradition, and ownership, and control. These vows declare they are fluid, evolving, adapting to life as it happens.
And maybe this is where vows break down. To vow, to carry out some indeterminate action for all eternity without consideration for the changes in our lives and the changes in ourselves—this feels impossible. How can we possibly vow to be the same, to provide the same? This feels like a flawed promise from the outset.
Instead, why not vow to change and always make space for change, and remain open to whatever the universe delivers? Why not say, I recognize, 10 years from now, 20, 1 year even, we will not be the same people we are today? And instead of offering some rigid set of traditionally nonspecific vows meant to stand forever and ever, why not renew our vows from time to time?
In place of resolutions, why not renew our vows every year? What if we renew, refresh, reinvigorate, our vows more often? Our vow at the beginning of each journey is to revisit the vows together, and recommit to the road we're on; to tell our partners and ourselves I solemnly promise to remain aware of your shifting needs and desires and communicate the same to you over the next year, then reset, again and again.
An annual renewal of vows feels to me like the hard work required to bring shared dreams to life together, as we stare out over the expanse in the same direction, falling deeper into love and drawing greater purpose from each year.