For as long as I can remember, and I am sure as most of you would also, marriage has been painted as the most sacred of ceremonies. And with most ceremonies it comes with a list of rituals, rules, and stipulations. In the case of marriage, some of them whether voiced or not include the long-held beliefs of, for richer or for poorer, through sickness and health, for better or worse and until death do us part – aka we are bound together no matter what!
What I have stopped to question lately is what do these orders/beliefs actually mean and how do they consciously and or unconsciously impact on us? In theory they sound “good”, and “loving” but what is the actual impact of these rules, stipulations and promises on us, our relationships, and our wider communities?
In my practice over the past 30 years and before that in my growing years, I have seen first-hand that marriage has not stood up to be all that it is said to and is promised to be.
How many women stay in domestic violent relationships because of “until death do us part”, for “better or worse”?
How many men stay in relationships where the woman has become a mother and wife and forgot she is a woman first. What do I mean by this, how many women lose their spunk, sexiness, and zest for life because they become overburdened or over-identified by taking on the roles that get imposed on them to be the best wife and mother?
How often do we NOT expose bad behaviour from our partners because that is what we vowed to do, take them for better or worse …? Right?
How often do we take responsibility to make another feel better because they overindulged in what they ate or drank the night before? Excused their grumpy, rude, bad behaviour because they are not feeling well, for better or worse, just accept it – it is all part of the ceremonial contract? Right?
How often do we excuse bad behaviour because our partner is working so hard to provide for us, we excuse it because they are doing their job, bringing home the bacon (so to speak), so we must give them some leniency because it is tough out there. Right?
What if none of this is right? What if it is in fact harming us?
Should we not change our vows to something more along the lines of …
I commit to bringing my all to you, to forever advance myself for you and for everyone else.
I commit to deepening every day to ensure no two days are the same, so that the mundaneness of life does not have entry into our space.
I commit to pull you up when you are acting in ways that are not loving to yourself, to others, or to myself.
I commit to being responsible for my actions – to be aware of how my actions impact on me, you, and all around us.
I commit to being play-full, joy-full, vital, and loving for myself, for you and all else around us.
I commit to bringing all the sweetness and tenderness I am to you and all around me.
How much richer would our relationships be if that is what we vowed to do. And then if someone broke that vow, gave up, decided it didn’t matter how they acted and behaved because – “hey – for better or worse, you are stuck with me”. Our contract would state, “no, that is not what we signed up for”.
Just like we should read the fine print of every contract we sign, the marriage contract should be the same.
What if we made every contract with another, be it partner, friend, family, associate about bringing love, responsibility and integrity and not about accepting and excusing abuse because that is what we invertedly signed up for … “I am your friend so you need to listen to me for hours when I am having a bad day”, “I am your family, so I can be rude to you, but not my boss, because he/she can fire me”, or my personal favourite, “If I can’t take it out on you, who can I take it out on?”
Would this not make for a more rewarding and enriching life? Is this not worth consideration?
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