There’s nothing wrong with traditional wedding vows, but if we’re honest, they do leave some room for different interpretations:

  • For better or for worse— When he brings home Starbucks and when he doesn’t
  • In sickness and in health—When one of us has a 24hr stomach bug
  • To love and cherish—When he is loveable 
  • Until death do us part—Don’t be dumb and you can stay alive (JK!)

All jokes aside, a couple of the top reasons for divorce is a lack of commitment and unmet expectations. What that says about marriage is that there is limited commitment, and a misunderstanding of what vows really mean. So, let’s get specific and add or clarify a few vows…

I promise to allow God to use you to grow me. This is one that none of us really saw coming. It’s one of the harder realities of marriage when you find out how much your spouse challenges you and calls you out on things that aren’t so good about you. The truth is, they are in your life to sharpen you, to help make you more like Christ, and that rarely will look like you’re hoping it will.
Nonetheless, it is a gift.
To take this concept a little deeper, how about adding in this one?
I promise to learn things about myself from your annoying habits. There’s nothing that points out your unhealthy need for perfection than a husband who constantly leaves glasses on tables and socks on the floor. The same goes for the way their slowness to do
E V E R Y T H I N G  makes your lack of patience light up like a Christmas tree.

Learning to look inward at your reactions and responses instead of constantly outward on their behaviors will give you such great opportunity to grow. It’s not fun, but it so good. We created an entire podcast episode on this, Help! My Spouse’s Flaws Drive me Nuts. You might want to listen! 

For a little bit of a lighter spin, how about I promise to always make room for fun no matter how busy we get. The longer you’re married the busier you tend to get, and busyness has a way of pushing out fun. Be intentional to keep the fun and friendship in your marriage, but don’t be focused on so much fun that you miss the promise of working on any issue as soon as it comes up. Letting wounds or issues fester makes them way more problematic. Don’t use fun as a tool for avoidance. Undealt with wounds and problems grow infections. If something goes awry, deal with it immediately.

And don’t be alarmed when some of those issues have their roots in triggers. This is where the promise of addressing all triggers that come up recognizing that God plans to use them for healing comes in. No one will trigger you like your spouse. And while triggers are reactive and make you feel very vulnerable, they are purposeful in your marriage. They’re there to show you the areas you need healing. Learn to work together on and through those triggers. In marriage, they are meant to create safe places for healing, not lead to more harm. If you want to learn more about this, check out What to do with Triggers.

Lastly, if you really want the go big or go home vows, add in I promise to always see your side even when I don’t agree with it and I promise to love you sacrificially even when it’s hard. Allowing your spouse to think differently and see things differently than you is hard work, but it’s necessary for emotional safety and freedom in your marriage. The moment you start fighting for the win is the same moment your marriage takes a loss. Sometimes there is no right or wrong, there’s just different. Respect your spouse enough to let them have their own thoughts and feelings. 

Amongst all the hard times, the annoying habits, the painful triggers, and the need for forgiveness, choosing to love your spouse sacrificially even when they don’t deserve it will always be one of the best showings of love for your marriage.

Here’s to many vow fulfilled years ahead!