Vows for Eternity: The Fifth Vow

The groom says, “You are my best friend, and staunchest well-wisher. You have come into my life, enriching it.” To this the bride says, “I promise to love and cherish you for as long as I live. Your happiness is my happiness, and your sorrow is my sorrow. I will trust and honour you and will strive to fulfil all your wishes’.

 It is in our nature and purely Darwinian to follow the theory of survival. Putting yourself first. Selfish as it may sound, it is how we are built. So how do you shape yourself to put someone other than your own flesh and blood before yourself? With a lot of mistakes, arguments and self-reflection is the answer I think, and it will always be work in progress for as long as we may live. When we acknowledge this as a couple and trust that our actions convey our best intentions only then can we be the best of friends. Or so I hope!

The adage, “You can choose your friends but not you relatives” holds so true for when we get married. I met my closest friends when I was 12 years old. It did not take us long to become friends, we slept in beds next to each other at boarding school. Did we know then that we would grow to cherish that bond 35 years on? Not at all, but it taught me what friendship was. Letting your friends be who they are, standing by them through good times and bad, playing together, fighting and making up but never letting that bond diminish. And it is no different when it come to a spouse. Never try and change them, all the other bits and bobs from the sentence before, and again, never letting that bond diminish. Only then will your spouse be your best friend.

PS: Don’t try and replace the friend with the spouse or the spouse with the friend. That way you lose both! Equally, while it would be great if they got on, the friend and spouse don’t need to be best friends. Respect that boundary. This is a realisation we grow into and if the bonds are strong both the friend and spouse will respect your choices.

The small things matter so much when you fulfil wishes for friends and family. My husband just walked in with fresh bagels from our favourite bakery, my wish for the day came true. We try to keep it simple. If I wished for something unattainable, I would be wishing for a long time. My son has been wishing for a dog for a while, it is a bit unattainable right now since I am not ready for a third child in the house! My husband wishes I would finish filing away the papers on my desk, that is also a bit unattainable right now, as the pile is really a bit big. Let’s continue to keep it simple. I’ll throw away some of that paper into the recycling bin first. He will just have to trust me to get it right!

Trust is the biggest five letter word I know and it certainly should be. Once lost, I think it would be very difficult to build back in any relationship. There are so many things I trust my husband with – our children, our finances, our wellbeing as a family and without question, he trusts me back. If either one of these are broken the damage would be irreparable.

What is honour? It is so hard to define. In marriage it could mean honouring the promises we make as well as showing respect for what we bring to each other and our relationship. I respect the order my husband brings to our life, I am terrible at taking care of the nitty-gritty. What I bring is strength and belief that we can weather any storm, I bring calm when the waters are rough and both of us know our strengths and honour them. And that I believe is Trust.. with a capital T.

As a family, when one member in the household is unhappy, it reflects on everyone. Whether that is through a bad temper, sulkiness or just a bad mood on a very bad day. All three options are completely dismal but we have to trust that tomorrow will be brighter. When I am angry and upset, everyone is upset. When my husband is angry or upset, we are all on edge. So just by default, that section of the vow holds true. Want it or not, his sorrow is my sorrow and my sorrow will certainly be his – its inescapable!

So far, as I go through exploring these seven vows, I feel humility holds the key to some form of success in a relationship. It takes away the anger and the ego, it helps in both sorrowful and euphoric moments. Selfish as we may be, if we apologise for our mistakes and recognise and acknowledge that we are making them, it will make for a stronger bond. I have to tell myself that quite often. But sorry does seem to be the hardest word – Elton John has been melodiously preaching that while plonking away on his piano for many years now!

So much of what I write is true to my thoughts and beliefs. For every couple and every marriage this will be different. Trust, honour and respect could bring divergent and contrasting meanings in different people’s lives. In my little cocoon, this is what they mean to me. Today they remind me that I have to respect the promises I have made, because in this topsy-turvy world, in good times and bad, we need to hold on to each other to pull through and chug along. My spouse is my constant and my soulmate… and so is my best friend, just in case she is reading this!

Credit: The Railway Woman