In the name of God, I, ____, take you, ____, to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part…
Though I pledge myself to you today, my sense of worthiness will never depend upon the way you love me. I have a divine Light within me that exists independent of how anyone treats me, including you. You cannot make it brighter, nor can you extinguish it, no matter what you do. And you have the very same Light within you. From this day forward, I will honor your Light, and you will honor mine. This will become the rhythm of our marriage, and it will be called grace.
Though I promise to have and to hold you, I will not expect you to remove all of my loneliness. Because no human being can do that for me. Instead, I vow to make my loneliness available to you, to share it with you, not as a way of erasing it, but as a way to intermingle it with yours. In this way, our wounds will not vanish, but they will give birth to something new. It will be called belonging.
Though I promise to love and to cherish you until death do us part, I also swear that our marriage will not become the sole purpose of my life. Our home will not be the end all and be all of my search for meaning. Rather, it will be a safe place for each of us to dream our dreams, an open space in which to discover our passions, and an empowering place from which we can both launch ourselves into the world, to love and cherish it, as well. In this way, our marriage will become something bigger than itself, and that thing will be called compassion.
Today, I pledge this to you: I am not entering this marriage to lose myself, but I am also not entering into this marriage to hold on to myself. I’m entering into this marriage to live one of the great paradoxes of existence: that we are now merged as one, but also not. We are together and apart. Close and distant. United and alone. Fused and free.
Today, we pledge to let our marriage, slowly, over the course of years and decades and a lifetime, reveal to us one of the great mysteries of existence: every person is entirely separate from every other person, and entirely connected to everyone else, as well. And in this way, our marriage will become a part of something ancient and sacred. It is called unity.
This is our solemn and holy vow.
In his debut novel, Kelly weaves a page-turning, plot-twisting tale that explores the spiritual depths of identity and relationships, amidst themes of healing, grace, faith, forgiveness, and freedom.
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Dr. Kelly Flanagan is a psychologist, author, consultant, and speaker who enjoys walking with people through the three essentials of a truly satisfying life: worthiness, belonging, and purpose. His blog writings have been featured in Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, The 5 Love Languages, and the TODAY Show. Kelly is the author of Loveable and True Companions.