The erudite A at Accordions and Lace has (yet again… jeepers that girl’s clever) sparked some internet conversations with her post on the power of choosing your spouse.
For Rooster and I the idea of choice was always at the heart of our marriage. It was reflected in the reading (by CS Lewis) that was read by my LongLostFriend ar our ceremony:
“The idea that “being in love” is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. Those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion’s own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do.
And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.”
We loved this reading because it summed up our deeply held belief that a wedding is not about the way we feel right now – of course we are deeply in love, passionately entwined and so full of hope – but about how we choose to link ourselves. In my previous post on pre-nups and divorce, I postulated how I believe that one must enter into marriage (surely the most important contract ever) with the seriousness and knowledge of what might lie ahead. And then, despite having thought about the better and worse and sickness and health, to nevertheless voluntarily and in the fullness of knowledge bind yourselves to each other. That is where the power of marriage lies: in chosing the good and the bad… Of course our wish is that there will be more goodness than badness, that the laughter will outweigh the tears, that we will continue to gaze at each other though the “rose-tinted” glasses. But if those wishes don’t work out, we have still chosen to walk our path together.
Our pastor-officiant suggested an interesting addition to our service: he asked us three questions before we said our vows to which Rooster and I gave prepared, but not shared responses. I’ll write a full post on the questions later, but for now I must highlight that in response to the third question “What promise, over and above your vows, do you make to each other?” both Rooster and I (in our different ways) promised to continue to choose each other as each other’s partner. It is an enormously powerful promise…
Rooster and I compiled our vows from a variety of sources (mainly inspired by ThePilatesMentor’s vows at her wedding in Feb), but it was important that it was clear that our vows, and our ceremony as a whole, had “weight” because of the public choice we were making. As a friend commented to Rooster during the reception party (half-jokingly, but I love the truth in jest) “We’re so glad your ceremony was so original and heartfelt – it makes it so much easier for all of us to police!”
Herewith, our vows:
I, [Saartjie/Rooster] choose you, [Rooster/ Saartjie] before our community and before God, to be my [husband/wife].
I pledge to be your loving friend and committed partner: To talk and to listen; to trust and appreciate you; to respect and cherish your uniqueness; to laugh with you in good times and struggle with you in bad times.
I promise to share my hopes, thoughts and dreams with you as we build our lives together.
We will build a home that is compassionate to all, full of respect and honour for others and for each other.
May we have many adventures, experience joy, sorrow and grow old together.