I typically use the traditional vows in wedding ceremonies. When couples ask to write their own vows, I ask to review them to make sure they agree with the substance of the traditional ones.
The vows below are the ones I’ve used for most weddings. If you’re married, review them and recommit yourself to them. If you’re single, reflect on the depth of their meaning.
One line stands out
The line that stands out to me in light of many troubled marriages is the vow “to love and to cherish.” It sounds redundant but loving and cherishing could be two different expressions.
Is it possible to love without cherishing? Certainly, one cannot claim to cherish someone without love. I am commanded to love others, but I am not ready to say that I cherish everyone I love.
To cherish implies something precious. Love is doing what is best for others according to God’s will. Love is clearly a value word implying that the one being loved is important. But cherishing seems to take value to a different level.
Cherishing implies that someone or thing is exceptionally precious and valuable. It also seems to imply a kind of tenderheartedness and sweetness that we don’t give to everyone we love.
You can be certain that cherishing has diminished when marriages are troubled. When a couple allows ugly forms of competitive rivalry to threaten their unity, loss of good will toward each other ends cherishing one another.
- I realize that it takes work for marriage to work. I remind young couples that it’s one thing to be in love but another to love someone day by day for life.
When we cease to love and to cherish, it’s easy to find fault and become harshly critical of each other. Always look at the condition of your own heart first.
I am not suggesting that one’s mate cannot make it exceptionally difficult to love and to cherish. I know of a number of people facing this challenge. If you’re in this situation, the last line of the vow is important to note: “according to God’s standards.”
We do not vow to love and to cherish “according to our mate’s standard” nor “my own standard,” but God’s standard. This means that sometimes loving and cherishing must be expressed through tough love and accountability (see: Seven signs of true repentance). If I love and cherish someone, I want her to flourish in God’s best for her life.
Groom’s name (please repeat after me)
I, _______________, take you ______________, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward. I promise to be your loving and faithful husband, in prosperity or in need, in joy or in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death causes us to part, according to God’s standards.
Bride’s name (please repeat after me)
I, _______________, take you ______________, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward. I promise to be your loving and faithful wife, in prosperity or in need, in joy or in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death causes us to part, according to God’s standards.
See also: How can we know what love is?