I, Katy, take thee, Dave, to be my wedded husband,
and I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses,
to be thy loving and faithful wife; in plenty and in want,
in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in
health, as long as we both shall live.
Almost one year ago, I said these beautiful but tough words to the dearest man I know and was blessed enough to hear him say the same vows in return. We set out on a new adventure (literally, not just figuratively as we moved 1000 miles from home to a new city!) and have, in some ways, tried to live these words daily, although failing plenty of times during our first year (I, of course, probably failed to live out these vows more than D did because he is immensely good to me)
The problem with wedding vows is that they are often applied to "EXTREME" situations. We applaud stories about the husband who selflessly loved his wife "in sickness and in health" while she slowly died from a deteriorating disease. We esteem women who have loved and respected their husband through a failed business or job loss, when the family lived on no income and trust that the Lord would provide. We honor the couple that holds each other's hands and comfort one another through extreme tragedies - death of loved ones, chronic illnesses, affairs, etc.
Recently, D was sick and asked me to go to the pharmacy late at night and I really didn’t want to and I whined about it as I changed back into clothes for a late night CVS run. While whining, he jokingly said “remember, in sickness and health…” Sweet D was joking, but his words struck me. I always apply that vow to really big health situations – cancer, bed rest during pregnancy, chronic illnesses, hospitalizations, etc, etc. But, really, I am called to love and care for my husband even in minor illnesses, not just extreme cases!
The reality is every marriage will have some of those rock bottom really tough days, months, years, but thankfully, by the grace of God, not every day, not every year is an large challenge or trial. Sometimes, the challenges of life are real but not extreme and the call to love and cherish my husband has more to do with encouragement, forgiveness and service in mundane moments or small trials than it does with extreme heroic action.
How then, can I live my vows out on a daily basis when there are dishes in the sink, bills to pay, job stress, screaming kids, stinky diapers, dirty laundry, broken down cars, stomach bugs, harsh words, feelings of worthlessness and boredom with the typical daily routine? Because usually life includes little trials than giant challenges, so undoubtedly, our vows need to apply to those moments too.
I want to take my vows seriously, not just applying them to the worst case scenarios that (thankfully) don’t happen daily. I want to love my husband well in the small moments of life. I want to care for him daily in the way I hope I would if tragedy ever struck.
Here are some imperfect thoughts from an imperfect person on
how I could better apply my vows to daily life:
I, Katy, take thee Dave, to be my wedded husband.
I marry you, no one else, so I should choose to see the best in you daily, choose to support you, choose not to think “what if” (..I had remained single, married someone else, etc), chose to honor you as my husband with my words, actions and in comments said to others. Although I aim to encourage you to continue growing more and more like Christ, I will not spend time comparing you to others. Finally, because I chose you as my husband, I chose to put you first and make you my priority above all others. You get to be second place in my life (behind our Savior) and I will strive to make you my priority.
and I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses
I am making a covenant, a sacred commitment to you. I will keep my covenant and remain your wife, even when it’s tough, even when we want to quit. I don’t want to throw around threats of divorce or leaving when we disagree and I want to invite God, the church and those who witnessed our covenant to help us keep our commitment through discipline, teaching, encouragement and support.
to be thy loving and faithful wife
I promise to remain faithful to you...both in actions and in thoughts. I will strive to keep my actions, words and intentions towards you KIND and loving – and when I fail (and I will), I will get up the next day and try again to love you as I should. I promise to continue loving you even at moments you seem unlovable.
in plenty and in want
I will love you on days that we pay the bills and don’t have anything left over for fun spending. I will love you when our financial future seems uncertain, when we are waiting for raises, when we are job searching, when we are only putting a small amount into savings, when we can’t afford gifts. I will love you when we disagree about money and how it should be spent. I will love you when surprise disasters come up and suck the money out of that month’s budget. In every small financial frustration – kid’s braces, debates on schools and tuition, buying new furniture, investments that fail, etc, we may disagree and we may feel stressed, but I will still love you, help us find solutions and remind you that our Lord will continue to sustain us.
And God forbid, something truly disastrous ever happen like losing jobs, extreme medical bills, losing our savings or our apartment, I will hold your hand through it all and we will seek God’s guidance and tackle the challenge together.
in joy and in sorrow
I will love you in extremely joyful moments (babies, first homes, promotions), as well as the extremely painful ones (job loss, death, heartbreak)
But, also, I promise to find joy daily with you and to care about the things that give you joy….listening to you tell me stories about architecture, about some dream business you would love to start, about the start of hunting season. I promise to try to enjoy life’s many blessings with you.
And just like I will love you on horribly awful days, I will care for you through all life’s minor sorrows – tough work days, disagreements with family, days when the kids make you want to pull your hair out, days where we clean up vomit or deal with flu outbreaks, days when we feel disappointed in our kid’s decisions (or in our own decisions) Even in smaller disappointments and mildly sorrowful moments, I plan on living and managing those with you.
in sickness and in health
I want to strive to love you in all moments of life and in all versions of sickness….whether that be a terminal diagnosis or the common cold. When you don’t feel well, I promise to take care of you – whether it’s a late night run to CVS for meds, encouraging you to visit the doctor (or even making the appointment for you), cooking soup and taking care of household chores while you rest up and get healthy. I hate being sick, but I promise to put my concerns of “catching illnesses” away to make sure I take care of you.
as long as we both shall live.
On certain days, the promise of living our vows and loving each other well for our entire lives may seem daunting- and on some days, my very sinful self may chose to not love you well, but I promise to get up and keep trying, keep stumbling over my own silly self so that hopefully each year, I have loved you better.
I sure hope we have 50+ years left of life and marriage, but I will do my best not to take the days for granted, knowing we aren’t promised tomorrow, and knowing I should not put off living my vows out until another day- in case that next day doesn’t come.
I will love you tomorrow, but I will love you today as if tomorrow won’t be happening.
So, on a daily basis, this is what I want my vows to look like. I don’t want to reserve my marriage promises for big time situations like terminal illness or family deaths or failed business, I want to live them today, on another boring Monday when life has plenty of stress but nothing insurmountable, when it’s easy to not even think about my vows, but when I am just as called to honor these vows as any other day. And I have and will fail at every single vow made, but the one promise I can keep is my promise to get up and strive to live them again tomorrow J