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Vows Another Word for Promises

When it comes to promises and vows some folks stand up and take notice, some expect it to be a pinnacle moment and still other could just care less.

At a wedding ceremony, these are the words that the folks came to hear and witness. In William Shakespeare’s day you were held accountable until one’s dying breath was taken for what one said in the vows portion of the service – or theatrical production. Shakespeare wrote 6 extremely noteworthy vows within both his comedies and dramas.

Within the vows and promises are the legal documents, dowry agreements, and lineage intentions and plans for the combining of two families for eternity. The Vows are some big deal.

We do not have dowry agreements, property arrangements, and lineage intentions in the West and the vows are almost never entered into court proceedings for divorce or child custody rights any more. So have they lost significance and meaning and should we just let them play out as the couple feels comfortable?

The Groom may have no interest in the Ceremony beyond what he will wear, what he will pay for, and whether or not his friends will be drunk during the ceremony (yes! I am fairly pessimistic at this point – sorry) but when it comes to the vows about 50% are highly interested in what they are promising in front of their friends and family.

The most important part of the vows is how well one keeps their promises in life. How trustworthy that individual is towards your precious gift of time, life and love. It is truly the vows that will make or break a marriage – how were those promises kept?

I thought I would share with you three of my most favorite sets of vows. I did not write any of these and the first is from the Prophet by Kahlil Gibran


Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each others’ keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

And from another very old book by Khoren Arisian THE NEW WEDDING


_________, I want to live with you just as you are. I choose you above all others, to share my life with me, and that is the only evidence there can be that I love you.
I want to love you for yourself in the hope you will become all that you can be. I promise to honor this pledge as long as life and faith endure


_________, I choose you as my husband/wife. I pledge to share my lie openly with you, to speak the truth to you in love; I promise to honor and tenderly care for you, to cherish and encourage your own fulfillment as an individual through all the changes of our lives.

What promises and vows have you made over your lifetime and how well have you kept them?

I feel like we need to work on promises and vows these days – ‘cause just too many folks say –“I didn’t really mean it, I had my fingers crossed. What do you think?

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13 Responses to “Vows Another Word for Promises”

  1. Dot Says:

    It’s interesting to me that in this country we enter into a binding legal contract when we get married, a contract that has different requirements depending on what state law, and yet we never actually see or sign the contract. Instead, we’re all focused on the vows, which are generally not legally enforceable. The contract rarely comes up unless there’s a divorce.

    My first husband and I wrote our own contract of ethical treatment of each other in marriage and, if necessary (which it was), in divorce, hoping it would supersede the official one, though I doubt that it would have. My second husband and I settled for whatever the chaplain said in the courthouse that day, which I can’t remember and which he giggled through. That’s right, giggled. I was SO bad at choosing a partner at that point.

    The governing factor in both marriages had nothing to do with vows. It had to do with our parents, the way they had raised us and the way they had entered into their own relationships. I was subconsciouly chosing men who were controlling and abusive, as my mother had been. Both of my husbands had subconscious agendas that meshed well with mine. When my eyes were opened to what I was doing to myself in those relationships, I was onlyl too happy to set the vows aside in favor of greater self-esteem and self-care.

    Dots last blog post..Family Issues

  2. Julie Says:

    I believe so strongly in the power of love, true selfless love—and have lived its miracles.

    Remembering over and again “love, honor, and cherish” helped me through some terrible times, healing me and my marriage. These words reminded me that love is always alive in my heart, that love is the most important thing and all else is of little consequence. The power of a vow is evident. We simply choose to continue finding usefulness in it or not.

    The vows you’ve chosen to share here, Patricia, are very beautiful. My particular favorite is Gibran’s. His is the closest to expressing my heart’s voice and desire. You’ve warmed my heart, and I adore that feeling.

    Julies last blog post..On That Note

  3. Patricia Says:

    There are so many items on our plates when we get married and I heard one psychologist say that we are either going to get married to or give birth to our greatest teachers towards our greatest wholeness. You married teachers to assist you in discovering your pathway to wholeness – not a pleasant journey or a honey moon of dillusion, but a journey of discovering yourself. Thank you for your comments

  4. Patricia Says:

    Love is the solution to just about everything and it is so powerful and amazing to work at and behold.

    I love writing vows for people after interviewing them and then coming up with just the words that they wish to say aloud and remember in the day. My best compliment is when the couple says, “Yes, that is just what I want to say …” I usually mix a bit of the poetic into the pie…
    My partner and I read our vows to each other every anniversary and then make plans for how we are going to implement them into our new year together.
    Thank you for coming by and you wonderful comments

  5. Cricket-Tammy Says:

    Oh, how sweet this is Patricia. One day…one day I hope to be able to say such words.

    I really do feel vows are important. I think when they are personal that adds to the promise somehow. I think this is why I am attracted to old love letters. I just enjoy reading something that the love jumps off the page.

    In the living room of my home I have a picture hanging that that belonged to my grandmother. The picture contains a letter in which my grandfather first mentions marriage to her.

    Love is huge and love is real. That is good.

    Cricket-Tammys last blog post..In Hiding…that’s all

  6. J.D. Meier Says:

    I really like the moving sea between the shores of your souls.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Information x Focus = Personal Reality

  7. Patricia Says:

    Love is important. Ironically I just got off the phone with someone who wanted a minister to get her sister married to the father of their child. I shared as much information that I had to share, but could not do the service as I will be in Scotland. Didn’t make the promises or commitment – that is the trend these days.

    It takes the Romance, blessings, love, and spirit out of the experience for me!

    Love will come in just the perfecting timing – I know it.

  8. Patricia Says:

    Thank you.

  9. Chania Girl Says:

    You have chosen a theme for your blog posts lately so in keeping with what is actually happening in my real life. My fiance and I will be married next June, and I am very much a traditionalist when it comes to vows, and I am eager to use the order of the Anglican service for our wedding ceremony … even including, if I can, “plight thee my troth.”

    I think it’s important that we promise these things to each other that may seem so difficult or out of reach. It is this promise, more than the feelings of love (which come and go based on the day and our moods), that binds us to each other and encourages us to go on honoring something beyond ourselves yet very much apart of ourselves.

    You are right to point out how lightly, though, these promises are taken in today’s society and how little so many people regard not just the marriage contract but the marriage COVENANT.

    Love is so much more than a fluttery feeling and the excitement of the glitz and glamor on the big wedding day.

    Chania Girls last blog post..Under Heaven

  10. Patricia Says:

    Chania Girl,
    June is a big month for weddings and ceremony. I just thought I would use some of the material that I research for the workbook I was writing for my church.
    If you belong to a religious community already, then the service of that community has a depth of meaning for you that owns it’s own history – more sacred is the covenant.

    Promises are lightly taken these days in so many areas of our lives.

    I am glad if this series is touching base with you and yours – Makes it a great deal more fun!

  11. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia. These were all lovely. My favourite was the first one by Kahlil Gibran — it is so poetic.

    Vows can be deceiving when people say them. It can feel as if they are giving the power to the vow itself and that because they’ve said the vow, they are under its influence. My feeling is that as couples we have to reconnect with ourselves consistently and be aware of the unspoken vows. We change and grow at different speeds and not always in unison. Now, I’ve never been married (ahem), so I’m definitely not an expert, but this is what my gut is telling me.

    Davinas last blog post..365 Days & Still Blogging

  12. bunnygotblog Says:


    I think the vows start long before the actual ceremony. Trust and Truth is essential with vows. A lie is very damaging, it hurts more then the truth.When a person lies the trust is gone.

    Very good article, Patrica.

    bunnygotblogs last blog post..Advertising Towards Dummies

  13. Patricia Says:

    I think you are correct that couples needs to constantly keep evaluating their promises to each other and their commitments, it is not just a one shot deal!

    The truth will set you free – lies and omissions just are so telling and interfering with success. To be hurt is a state that can be healed, but to be not trusted or respected is not repairable.