Some Non-Traditional Marriage Vows

I got married last month. It was lovely, and I could not be more glad that I did it. But the vows did not come easily.

I’m a feminist, and so is my now-spouse, and so we spent a fair amount of time cherry-picking those wedding traditions that (1) applied to us and (2) did not relate directly to horrible-if-longstanding cultural traditions such as blood-feud, rape, and the buying and selling of female virginity. (Ask me what we learned about bridesmaids sometime).

So all that love, honor, and obey stuff was not going to cut it for us. What we ultimately came up with was something a bit more personal, relating directly to how long we’ve been together pre-marriage, our bookish leanings, the particular ways in which we have improved, enriched, and embiggened one another’s lives, and the particular promises we wanted to make to one another.

The result went over really well, and a few people have asked us for a copies, so I thought that I would go ahead and post the vows here. That way, if any passers-by want to use what we came up with as a jumping-off point for their own marryin’ words, they will know that they are welcome to do so.

And indeed, as a bonus, our vows will get folded into my blog’s non-commercial Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This means that anyone and everyone is free to use them, and to tailor or change them. As I said, they are quite personal, and interested wedding-havers will almost certainly want to fill in some blanks with their own thoughts and feelings and such.

So without further ado, here is what we said.

It’s hard to explain why I love you so much,
But that’s because loving you is my frame of reference.
I haven’t loved anyone else.
Not like this. Not as an adult.

Would I even be an adult right now without you?
I’m not so sure. Frankly, I doubt it. I mean:

I haven’t built a life with anyone else.
I haven’t moved to a new city,
Bought a home,
Or yes, planned a wedding with anyone else.
And that’s because I wouldn’t want to.

All that I’ve accomplished so far—
Freelancing, founding a company,
Graduating college (two or three times)—
And all of the things that I still want to do

I cannot imagine,
Nor would I want to,
Any of that without you.

So I will be there for you.
However you feel, whatever you need,
I will try to be that, to provide that, to give you that,
To make sure that you never go wanting for long.

And I will try to be confident, and decisive,
And I will try to keep things in perspective.
I will trust you, and I will trust that you trust me.
I will help you, and I will let you help me.

And this is the part where I’m supposed to say
That I’ll always love you just like I do now.
But things are so different between us than they were—
So different, because they’re so much better now.

So I’ll just say that we change much better together,
Which is better, because it’s true.

And I cannot imagine,
Nor would I want to,
Any of that without you.

It’s hard to explain why I love you so much,
But that’s because loving you is my frame of reference.
I haven’t loved anyone else.
Not like this. Not as an adult.

Would I even be an adult right now without you?
I’m not so sure. Frankly, I doubt it. I mean:

I haven’t built a life with anyone else.
I haven’t moved to a new city,
Bought a home,
Or yes, planned a wedding with anyone else.
And that’s because I wouldn’t want to.

All that I’ve accomplished so far—
Loosing jobs, finding better new ones,
Getting up on stage again and again,
And all of the things that I still want to do

I cannot imagine,
Nor would I want to,
Any of that without you.

So I will be there for you.
However you feel, whatever you need,
I will try to be that, to provide that, to give you that,
To make sure that you never go wanting for long.

And I will try to take setbacks in stride,
And I will try not to overextend—always coming home tired.
I will trust you, and I will trust that you trust me.
I will help you, and I will let you help me.

And this is the part where I’m supposed to say
That I’ll always love you just like I do now.
But things are so different between us than they were—
So different, because they’re so much better now.

So I’ll just say that we change much better together,
Which is better, because it’s true.

And I cannot imagine,
Nor would I want to,
Any of that without you.

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