Monday, January 31, 2011

In Which I Rant About Wedding Vows

It is in fashion currently to write your own wedding vows.  Usually what this means for me is that couples regularly show up in my office wondering if the "have to" write their own vows, and thinking that if they can't or don't want to, maybe they don't really love each other.  Okay, they don't say it that way, but it's the subtext.  Personalized vows are the way to go; the movies tell us so.

I just watched Marshall and Lily get married on "How I Met Your Mother."  They didn't have their vows with them, so Ted told them to just "say why you love each other."  Well, that was very touching, and a pretty good example of what most people end up doing when they say they're going to write their own vows.  Unfortunately, that's not a vow; it's a reception toast.  I'm not married, so it's possible that I know nothing about how relationships work.  However, I'm pretty sure that a vow is when you make promises about what you are going to do, not when you tell someone how great it is that they make you feel so good.  Which is invariably what these "vows" are about: I love you because you do insert-thoughtful-thing-here for me.  I love you because you make me feel insert-positive-emotion-here.  What does that mean for the day that she doesn't do the thoughtful thing, or he doesn't inspire warm and fuzzy feelings?

But then, I'm not sure what I expect when I know very well that many people get married thinking solely about how great it feels to be in love, and not at all about what it will be like to have to live with this person every day and see them when they're sick, tired, depressed, crazy, gross, cranky, annoying, distant, and angry.  Again, I'm not married, but it seems like part of the marriage commitment ought to be a realization that sometimes you're going to have to do exactly the opposite of what you feel, because if you did what you felt every moment, you'd probably break up within the week.

I'm pretty flexible when it comes to weddings and doing what the bride and groom think will make their day personal and special, but I do insist that they speak actual vows.  I don't care who writes them, but they do have to be about what you are going to do in the relationship.

End of rant.

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