“I, Georgette, take you Harry, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
As I stood at the altar on my wedding day saying my wedding vows, I really did not realize the full extent of the commitment I was making. My words were sweet and romantic, but I didn’t have a clear understanding of what I was saying. I was looking at the handsome man next to me who was going to be my husband, and I didn’t think about the fact that I had just made some very significant promises to him. I didn’t know just how difficult it was going to be to keep those promises.
One of the things that I did not realize was that our vows were going to be renewed every time God blessed us with a child. With each pregnancy, it was as though we said “I Do” all over again. We were committing to accept the child God had created and together we were going to raise our child for Him.
For better, for worse – With each child that God blessed us with, we had to make important decisions. Sometimes we didn’t agree on those decisions. Cloth or disposable diapers? Breastfeed or bottle-feed? Fresh food or baby food from the jar? Cry it out or rock the baby to sleep? When do we potty-train? Should I be a stay-at-home mom or a mom that works outside the home? The decisions were endless. We were sleep-deprived, overworked, and we sometimes argued over little things that should not have really mattered. As we went through the different seasons of our marriage, we had to work hard on the promise of “for better, for worse.”
For richer, for poorer – I was working full time when we got married, while Harry was in law school. Our plan was that I would work while he focused on school, but God had a different plan for us. Our first child was born within the first year of our marriage. For most of my pregnancy, I could not work because of medical complications. Money was tight and I had not anticipated the frustration I would experience from the financial stress. My mother told me that with each child, God would send the means to provide for the child. She was right. We did not live extravagantly, but we always had what was necessary. We learned to build our wealth together — not monetary wealth, but the wealth that made us rich with God’s love. Every time I found myself concerned about finances, I had to remind myself of the promise I made of “for richer, for poorer.”
In sickness and in health – Over the years, I have had my share of illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations. Each of my eight pregnancies were difficult, one of which ended with a miscarriage. My husband was always there to support and encourage me, and my parents, siblings, and other family members and friends helped care for my children during my pregnancies and medical challenges. I was truly blessed to have them. I know it wasn’t easy, but Harry always kept his promise to be there “in sickness and in health.”
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad – There were many times throughout our 40 years of marriage that Harry and I enjoyed good times. We had numerous celebrations, parties, family trips, business trips, and great memories. But there were also bad times, such as losing loved ones, disagreements, challenges, and frustrations. Sometimes we did things to offend each other and then we would treat each other in a not-so-loving way. It was during those bad times that God’s graces from the Sacrament of Marriage helped us to draw strength from our marriage vows, “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad.” During those times, God gave us the strength and desire to stay united together.
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life – There were days that both Harry and I were unlovable, and there were other times that our behavior toward each other was not very honorable. Our marriage vows were always in the forefront of our minds to remind us that even on those challenging days, we needed to choose to love and honor each other anyway.
I am a wedding planner/coordinator and I oversee all the weddings that take place in four churches in our area. I meet men and women from different backgrounds and cultures who want to be married and spend their lives together. I have attended hundreds of weddings and I have often been the last voice the bride hears before she walks down the aisle. More often than not, my eyes are filled with tears as I fluff the train of her gown. My last words to her are, “May God walk with you and bless you throughout your marriage.”
I share in my couples’ excitement, answer their questions, and try to make their day as stress-free as possible. It brings me great pleasure to know that they are receiving the amazing Sacrament of Marriage. They are asking God to be the foundation of their marriage. They are making a lifetime commitment to each other with God and their guests as witnesses. They have no idea of what lies ahead, but I know that if they remain faithful to God, He will always be by their sides to assist them.
The beginning of their long journey together begins with the words, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” I am always hopeful that their love for each other will flourish and that they will enjoy the same blessings and rewards that my husband and I have enjoyed.
Was the commitment I made on my wedding day worth it, even though I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into? Of course it was. And I’m looking forward to continuing that commitment until death do us part.