Modern couples, apparently, want to be realistic about what they promise.
Vows like “For as long as we continue to love each other,” “For as long as our love shall last” and “Until our time together is over” are increasingly replacing the traditional to-the-grave vow — a switch that some call realistic and others call a recipe for failure.Further along, the article quotes a psychologist, Diana Kirschner, who says that she “. . . can understand why some people, especially children of divorce, would find it difficult to promise eternal love.”
“We’re hearing that a lot — ‘as long as our love shall last.’ I personally think it’s quite a statement on today’s times — people know the odds of divorce,” said New Jersey wedding expert Sharon Naylor, author of “Your Special Wedding Vows,” who adds that the rephrasing is also part of a more general trend toward personalizing vows.
Yeah, pledging eternal love seems daunting. This bit of realism may actually be helpful. But first, let’s sort out the relationship between love and marriage.
Love and marriage, crooned Sinatra, go together like a horse and carriage. Nice rhyme, and a generally accepted idea. Love certainly pulls us into marriage, but the temptation is to carry the analogy too far, imagining that love pulls the marriage along.
But love is not up to the task. As Ambrose Bierce observed, “Love is a temporary insanity, curable by marriage.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it without the cynicism. Giving advice to a young bride and groom, he wrote, “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
So don’t promise eternal love. Instead, promise to stay married. Promise to be nice to your spouse when you’re feeling pissed off. Promise to treat each other with respect. Promise to talk and promise to listen. Promise to try to see things from your spouse’s perspective. Promise to say “thank you,” “I love you,” and “you’re right” as often as you can, and promise to say “I’m sorry” as often as you must.
And promise to keep your thinking unclouded by trendy notions.