Another idea that struck me from the DVD (see below), is that marriage is a covenant between two people. It's not, fundamentally, about feelings of love - it's about the making, and keeping, of promises. This is what distinguishes marriage from de facto relationships, where there are no explicit, public promises.
This means that the actual vows are really important - these are the promises we make and the core of the relationship! I wonder sometimes about modern wedding vows, whether the promises made are in keeping with what marriages need to survive and thrive. For example, some vows include sections about helping the other person reach their potential, or fulfill their life dreams, or become all they can be. This, in a subtle way, to me seems to be promoting the individual as more important than the marriage.
Of course there is plenty of room within the marriage relationship for people to achieve their own goals and develop as individuals, but when this becomes more important than the marriage things are in trouble.
If times are tough I try to ask not what do I need, but rather what does my marriage need. Why? Because I promised to. Here's what I said to Adam on 24 March 2001:
"I Alison, in the presence of God, take you Adam, to be my husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to submit to all the time, as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow and promise."
Now, I love Adam very much. But if those feelings weren't there, the promises would be. That's why vows are important to the health of a marriage - and why we depend on them!
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