Do they make a difference?
Thinking of Pope Francis I as he anticipates becoming leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics I find myself wondering what sort of vow he makes in relationship to those he serves. And if he does make a vow, does it help guide his behavior in any way?
Since 1688 in Great Britain, for example, Parliament changed the Oath an incoming monarch would say to identify that ultimately (unlikely as this might seem) power lay with the people through Parliament and the monarch had to swear they would act “according to their respective laws and customs.” There is of course also a whole bunch of obedience to the Protestant Church who originally held great power – but that’s for another blog post! However, if a King or Queen gets too uppity, in theory, we can get them out. There is a public pledge of understanding about the expected rules of reciprocity: “You be King but don’t get too out of hand, we’ll all enjoy the pomp and circumstance.”
Which has me wondering about marriage vows. Working with so many couples — some married formally with the big white wedding; some married simply in a back yard but none-the-less legally bound; some cohabiting, maybe with a housewarming bash to mark the event; some who drifted together with no “promises” in place; and of course, gay and lesbian couples who’d love more legal status yet who get creative in terms of formalizing their unions — I see a huge variety in the degree of Vows, or “expected rules of reciprocity.”
I’ve yet to conduct a survey exploring the correlation between these agreed-upon “rules of reciprocity” and marital satisfaction – but it might prove interesting.
Here are the vows Mark and I said to one another on November 20th 1982. We adopted these from dear friends Julia and Stuart. Feel free continue adopting and adapting if they fit for you!
I take you to be no other than yourself
To love and comfort you
Honor and keep you
In sickness and in health
In sorrow and in joy.
Loving what I know of you
Trusting what I don’t yet know
With respect for your integrity
And faith in your abiding love for me
Through all our years
And in all that life may bring us
I greet you as my husband/wife.
Reading these again now (and as we do around each anniversary) I have to say, without wanting to be trite or corny, I think they’ve played their part on our successful journey toward one another over the past 30+ years. I’ll start my survey tonight by asking Mark what he thinks!
Gemma: It’s been easier said than done, but all in all, 33 years later (and with some hard hiccups), we’ve certainly tried! -Julia & Stuart
I was thinking of you two as I wrote this piece. I think life has thrown pretty much every possible challenge at you, and there you both still are! Hooray for you both!