We were unlike most couples about to be married. Frustrated with not being able to please either side of our families, we scrapped our original plan for a lovely lakeside wedding. We took off from work early on a Friday and met at the courthouse. We never thought about penning our own wedding vows. We thought our countertop ceremony would consist of signing on the dotted line. You couldn’t call either of us romantics then.
The line at the counter was long. My feet hurt so I took off my shoes. My work dress was nothing special and now it was getting even more wrinkled as we waited. We didn’t think to bring witnesses. No problem, the clerk pointed to two older women stooped over their typewriters. They waved their arms at us, without looking up from their clack-clack-clacking.
To our surprise, the clerk pulled out a sheet of paper and began to read a paragraph of vows. She asked each of us, in turn, if we agreed to live by them. They seemed generic enough. “Do you take this man…love, honor and obey…for richer, for poorer…in sickness and in health…”
I do. Sure. Of course. Isn’t this what a bride says?
As we walked down the hallway, a young wedding party in full wedding regalia--complete with gown, veil, tuxedos, bridal party, flowers, the works—tittered past. I felt sheepish. This was one of the most important days of my life, and I impulsively missed out on the symbolic and spiritual significance of it because we were annoyed with our in-laws.
But it was done. We were married. And we were glad of it. The years passed and whenever we had problems, I thought back to the day we got married. What did marriage mean to me? Is it just a legal document? Is it a spiritual covenant made before God with dire consequences for breaking it? After I learned about Christ, I took my vows more seriously but I still threatened divorce several times, ready to run when he made me mad.
I know our marriage success is due to his maturity and his steadfast holding on. Scott is a special man. Although he isn’t necessarily a religious man, he is a man of his word. And he took his vows seriously, not because of any other worldly punishment or any legal consequences but because he meant it when he said he loved me and would love me to the end.
I felt bad that I was less of a person. But then, I grew up.
Our vows weren’t crafted or uttered with any serious forethought. That’s not a good thing. Marriage vows are special and sacred. They set the tone for your married life. I hope people take care when they write their vows, and I hope they, like my husband, live up to them. Through his devotion and commitment, I learned what devotion and commitment was all about.
We both hope to renew our vows, perhaps hoping to honor our commitment a little more than by filling out a piece of paper this time. But by living up to our vows for the past 23 years, I think that is honoring our marriage pretty well, don’t you?