• Darrell & Robin MacLearn

The Significance of Wedding Vows

To Have & Hold, for Better or Worse, Richer or Poorer, in Sickness & Health, to Love and Cherish, Until DEATH do us part.

A VOW - What is it?


No one takes a vow lightly. The very definition of a vow is a solemn promise. Solemn is defined as characterized by deep sincerity. Take wedding vows for instance. Most people exchanging vows at their wedding are not planning to break them. If you are married, when is the last time you even thought about your vows? If you’ve been married any length of time, it’s probably been a while since your vows have been at the forefront of your mind. While not the only significant part of a wedding ceremony, I would venture to say the vows are the center of it. In fact, if a couple left out the vows in their ceremony, would they even be married? The words of the vows give purpose and meaning to the ceremony. Let’s take a deeper look at some traditional wedding vows to see what they are all about. 

“I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. This is my solemn vow.”

"I Promise..."

First of all, you are willingly taking your spouse, with all the responsibility that implies. You are “taking on” another person, to be responsible for, to share life with, to be your partner. “To have and to hold from this day forward,” is your life-long commitment to one person, your spouse. They are yours, not in a possessive way but in a partnership of trust kind of way. Most people don’t say these words with the intent of giving up in the next few years. The intention is that this relationship, this marriage will be forever. However, the divorce rate at 50% of first marriages, 70% of second and 80% of third marriages prove that intentions are not always lived out.

The next few phrases are about the conditions of life, some wonderful, some difficult. When you vow to be with your partner “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health” you are making a commitment to stay together NO MATTER WHAT MAY COME. 

You are saying you are committed until death separates you. You cannot get any more permanent than that! To cherish someone, you must be intentional. Cherishing your spouse means seeing them as a treasure, protecting them with love, and adoring them with admiration.

To learn more about how to cherish your partner, read this blog article  A Vow To Cherish

"But my fingers were crossed"

If you have not always cherished your partner, you have broken your vow.  If you have let your heart wander in fantasy or reality, you have broken your vow. 

If you have abandoned your partner when times were difficult or finances were low, you have broken your vow.  When you first get married it usually takes a little while for reality to kick in. It’s easy to think your love will last forever, just naturally. Your partner cherishes you now so why wouldn’t that just continue? You may be viewing married life through rose-colored glasses, enjoying spending every possible moment with your love. But at some point, the focus shifts and you begin to see faults and flaws in your partner. You may begin to feel taken advantage of or disrespected. It is tempting to act conditionally at this point. “I’ll cherish you if you cherish me.” “I don’t feel the love from you so I’ll withhold my love from you too.” “You didn’t keep your vows to me so why should I keep mine to you?” These are all examples of conditional love, conditional commitment. I’ll love you IF…Or, if you do this for me, THEN I will cherish you.

When we make vows to our spouse, we are making a solemn promise to do the right thing no matter what our partner does or doesn’t do. In the previous examples, the couple is in a 50% - 50% relationship. It is doomed for failure. In order to not only survive but thrive in an extraordinary relationship, you must be committed to a 100% - 100% relationship.

Marriage is a grand opportunity to show your strength of character. Will you stand true to your solemn promise no matter the circumstance? Will you choose to love even when it is not easy? Will you do the right thing because you said you would, no matter what may come?

To Have & Hold, for Better or Worse, Richer or Poorer, in Sickness & Health, to Love

and Cherish, Until DEATH do us part.

Growth Begins With Awareness

Most couples' vow still takes on some form of the above promises. Notice that the positives and negatives of life are between having and holding on one end and loving and cherishing on the other.  In other words, until we die, no matter what happens in life I will not stop taking you as mine and holding you and loving you and cherishing you.  My love is not conditional or determined by the circumstances.

Growth begins with awareness.  Take an honest look in the mirror and reflect on your vows. How are you doing at keeping your vows?  Are you a man or woman of your word or will you only keep them if your spouse does?  Are you “cheating” on your spouse?  If you are human the truth is that you have cheated.  I’ve not yet met anyone who has loved, cherished, and perfectly kept their vows.  However, today is a new day!

Want to take your marriage to a whole new level?  Apologize and intentionally start fresh with a commitment to daily working on keeping your vows.  This one act on your part can turn your marriage around or move it from ordinary to extraordinary.  Make it an XtraO marriage and start today!

We would love to hear your responses to these questions. Please leave a comment.

  • When was the last time you thought about YOUR vows and YOUR faithfulness?

  • Did you have traditional vows or write your own unique vows?

  • Are your vows posted anywhere in your house?

  • How important are vows to a marriage?

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