You and your spouse deserve results, not just promises
In the traditional wedding ceremony, your spouse agrees to accept you “for better or worse …till death do you part,” and at first that sounds quite noble. But is it? It actually might absolve you of any responsibility to grow and improve. If you don’t improve, neither will your marriage, and the result could be two people who have parted ways emotionally, if not physically, long before death.
Your relationship with your spouse is far too precious to be founded on such a vague promise as “for better or worse.” By asking your spouse to accept you on these terms, you are in essence saying, “Stay with me even if I get complacent, lazy, dull and unattractive.”
What motive does that give you not to become complacent, lazy, dull, and unattractive? None at all. And if you backslide, what of the marriage? After much chafing, all that remains to hold it together is a twisted, frayed thread.
But any good marriage should be held together by the warm, powerful, attraction that binds a man and a woman who are growing and improving as individuals. To maintain that enthusiasm, which most couples at least shared in the beginning, both of you must continue to grow and improve, and that’s the commitment you should make to one another. Don’t stay together for better or worse; just stay as long as you both keep improving. That way your marriage will keep improving too, because you’ve founded the relationship on results instead of mere promises.
Saying “I do” to growth and improvement is a far deeper and more rewarding commitment than the traditional promise of “for better or worse,” simply because it requires both husband and wife to accept responsibility for their part of the relationship.
Besides, it just makes sense. Consider your other relationships. In any of them did you or someone else agree to accept the worse? Of course not. Take your job for instance. Your employer didn’t say, “This is your job forever, whether you help our company get better or worse.” If he or she did say that, then you could come in late every morning, fall asleep at your desk, take three-hour lunch breaks, and leave early every afternoon, with no fear of being fired! What your employer should say is, “This is your job as long as you deserve it, and you’ll deserve it as long as you keep improving.” And in turn, your commitment to your employer should be that you’ll keep working for the company as long as it keeps improving.
And so it is with two people in love who decide to get married. They might say to each other, “Because I love you, I want the best for you. And I want that best to be me. So stay with me as long as I am the best for you—as long as I keep improving. That way I’ll have to improve, and you’ll want to stay.”
Here’s what you can do:
- If you’re still single, consider including in your wedding vows a commitment to grow and improve.
- And if you’re already married, it’s still not too late; each of you can accept responsibility for your part of the relationship beginning NOW, in all areas of your life. Ask yourself these questions: Do you have a plan for staying in great shape by maintaining an exercise program and by watching what you eat? Are you in better shape now than last year? Do you learn new things each year by reading more, listening to motivational/inspirational CDs, attending seminars? Are you expanding your mental capacities? Do you feel smarter this year than last year? Do you work at increasing your self-confidence, poise, and ability to communicate with others as each year goes by?
- Say “I do” and make the commitment!