It started off like this: a couple months before our wedding our priest asked us to memorize our vows. We didn’t start right away … but then about 6 weeks before the wedding, we realized that we would probably freeze up there on the altar if we hadn’t memorized them. The priest thought it would be much better if we said them, instead of us repeating after him, and we agreed.
We started saying our vows to each other each night. The first couple of times we did this, it was more about making sure we had our lines correct, but as the days went by I found the vows moving me each time we would say them. Sometimes I was moved to tears either hearing them or saying them.
We had them sufficiently memorized and I was finding that this was something I wanted to continue every night. Andrew asked if we would stop saying our vows nightly after our wedding day and I said “No, I think it’s a really neat thing we have going on here. Let’s keep doing it every day.” He agreed.
Now we say our vows after every act of marital unity. Each time it’s special. Partly it’s because I have a partner who says them with utmost sincerity. Each time, I concentrate on every word he is saying and every word I am saying. Each time, the words become like an examination of conscience. Am I being faithful in every way possible? Am I being loving in sickness and health and in good times and bad? I promise to love you and honor you for all the days of my life. How am I doing with that? I think about all my future days, the days I am tired, and the days I am old, and the days that we will be forced apart by employment and kids’ schedules. I think about my end days, and I pray that we say these vows with that same sincerity every single day.
I would imagine that there are probably not many couples who say their vows every day. I feel like we created a very meaningful tradition for each day. Since we have currently only been married for a month, I am imagining saying those vows on days when we are upset with each other, or have done something we regret. I am imagining saying those vows 10 years from now. Some people tend to be afraid of repetition because it can dull the power of those words. It can only dull the power if you let it. Just like saying the Our Father daily, or a blessing over your food, you have to concentrate and mean what you say. When you say ‘I love you’ daily to someone, it doesn’t lose its meaning and power, if you are sincere. The rich gain of increased unity, awareness, and reflection far outweigh any risk that the words will be said strictly by rote.
I don’t want to wait for my one-year anniversary, or my ten-year anniversary, to repeat my vows. I want to remind myself, and my spouse, that I mean them and that I am living by them. I want to hear them as well. This is a special oath of dedication, and in some ways a prayer before God each and every time for his extra grace in order to live them out more perfectly. It calls upon that grace that God has promised us in the sacrament of marriage. In addition, we are saying them mostly after the act of marital unity, which creates a holy atmosphere. It calls on the reasons that we have agreed to be together in every way, in every circumstance, good or bad.
As I ponder this concept, I can’t help but think that it would also be good to say our vows at other less pleasurable times as well. Maybe we should say them after a fight, or during a time of tension, such as creating a budget. I challenge you to create your very own special traditions that cause you to reflect on your vows, and call on God’s grace to strengthen you in your perseverance to excel in them.
Copyright 2017 Marya Hayes