THE ROADMAP FOR THE MARRIAGE
Hi, My name is Dally Messenger
I ‘ve been a Civil Marriage Celebrant for 40 years.
This is about writing your own vows for your marriage. ceremony.
This is possible now since the Australian Attorney General Lionel Murphy founded Civil Celebrants in 1973 – to bring dignity into the lives of non-church people through ceremonies of meaning and substance. In those days the only alternative to a church ceremony was a very anemic and humiliating “so-called” ceremony in a registry office.
So Murphy, in a revolutionary way, established the right of people to create their own marriage ceremony, which included the composition of that most important part of that ceremony – the vows. Instead of vows coming from somewhere else – God, the Church, the Government, — Murphy’s dream was that they would come from the experienced heart – from you.
But how do you do this?
The best approach I can suggest to you is a way to carefully make a compact. That is, after all, what marriage is – compact. (Don’t like the word – contract). My conviction on this insight came from a woman commentator on the BBC. She criticised the vows in the Church of England wedding ceremony because it was not a compact.
The ceremony should be the roadmap for the marriage.Often it was not a sincere agreement.
It is important that you give this compact — the words mean “a coming together to make peace”– expressed in your vows to each other – very serious thought.
Now what a well trained celebrant (or relationship educator in some cases) – will suggest to you, and help you put into good words, is this compact.
How do you go about this?
First, for an hour or so, each of you should go your separate ways!
You should sit down in a corner somewhere with a writing pad or clipboard, or at a desk ,or at the keyboard, and think carefully – then compile a shopping list of what you want the other person to promise you – your wish list of promises.
You might, for example, want you partner to:-
be gentle with criticism –
refuse to stonewall –
not to let anything fester
listen without trying to solve the problem
be totally loyal and faithful
Promise to give you space.
encourage fun and
to maintain a sense of humour.
Bettina Arndt interviewed 100 couples. 80 % were not happy because one party or the other denied the partner physical intimacy. This is such a distressing finding.
So you may wish to promise the other to do you best – that is what all vows are anyway – it is about attitude really – emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy.
Then you must come together and – forgive the word – marry your lists!
Sometimes this a tad confronting. If you cannot achieve this then you really should think twice about getting married.
The compact is a road map to a happy life. No agreed roadmap should contain unresolved conflicts. Seek reputable marriage preparation counselling.
Relationships are difficult – But they promise the greatest happiness life can give. Here is one example from my celebrant experience (or close to it!)
thank you, Mary, for trusting me,
and claiming me as your closest friend.
As far as I am able
I promise to treat you respectfully,
and speak to you respectfully, at all times.
I will be gentle and positive
with any criticism I consider I have to express
I will try never to cut you off,
or stonewall you in difficult moments.
I will speak frankly, but softly,
rather than let any resentment fester.
I ask you to listen to me when I need to talk,
and I promise to listen to you
when you need me as your listening friend.
I promise to be loyal and faithful to you
I promise to give you your space, when you need it
and I ask the same of you.
I will happily sustain the fun, and humour
we have experienced in our relationship.
I promise to do my best, every day,
to encourage a marriage characterised by
emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy.
Therefore, I John, call upon the persons here present,
to witness, that I take you Mary, to be my lawful wife.