From Heather: The vows we ended up using were borrowed and altered a little from one of the examples in the workbook. . . . I just thought they were so simple and beautiful. We wanted something really short and almost melodious that we could remember for years to come. We had already selected a song that meant a lot to both of us that we wanted to play as the ceremony began titled “All of My Days.” That line is repeated sweetly throughout the lyrics. So when we read these vows, they matched almost perfectly to the song! I thought that was a good sign
Here is what we ended up using:
I want you to know that I love you,
And I will for the rest of my days.
I vow to trust you and respect you,
Tell the truth and embrace you,
Every day. All the time. And always.
I vow to honor and protect you,
Encourage and celebrate you,
Every day. All the time. And always.
This is my promise.
To share a lifetime of eternal, immeasurable love.
Without your book, we never would have stumbled across the beautiful framework for these vows, so I am very grateful!
Creator of the Universe:
We are thankful for this bright blue and verdant globe,
for its’ thin miraculous layer of life.
We are honored to launch
Margo and Eric on their voyage.
May they find
the strength of Mountains,
the deep roots of Oak,
the peace of Sunset.
May our love and support nourish
Them like life-giving rain.
May their lives flow like the river,
Always forward, through the
Challenges of falls, and
Wild adventures of rapids,
Finding ways around all obstacles,
Always growing, until reaching the sea.
Amen, Ahhwomen, AhhChildren
AhhAnimals, AhhCreation. Ahhhhh.
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Prayer offered by Chuck Dayton at the wedding of my his best friend’s daughter on August 8, 2009
At the beginning of our evening meal, Shonnie and I take a few moments to express our gratitude for events of the day. For example, one of us might say, “I’m grateful for finally completing the newsletter I’ve been working on. I’m grateful for your willingness to clean the kitchen after breakfast. And I’m grateful to be here with you our kitties at the end of a long day about to enjoy this healthy, flavorful meal.”
Then come acknowledgments—something that we appreciate about the other and ourselves—an act performed or a state of being during the past 24 hours. For example: “I acknowledge you for the compassion you showed with my mother during our telephone call with her. I acknowledge myself for cooking this meal for both of us.”
Then the other partner expresses his/her gratitude and acknowledgments.
Finally, connected at a deeper level, we break bread and enjoy our evening meal together.
Below is an article by Margot Lester with supportive strategies for divorced men and women who are considering dating again. However, I think she provides helpful hints for anyone who’s looking for a loving relationship.
FYI, Margot quotes me (Bruce) extensively in the last few paragraphs of her article.
Dating Again? Boost Your Luck
By Margot Carmichael Lester
You took a swing at marriage, and it didn’t work out. Now that you’re divorced, how do you get back on your feet and back in the dating game? According to experts and the divorced people we spoke to, it’s a matter of attitude adjustment. Here, they share their wisdom.
Talk to yourself
Start by giving yourself a new internal monologue, suggests Laurie Puhn, J.D., author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life. “Being single means you still have the chance to meet Mrs. Right. So give yourself a new mantra: ‘I’m single because I’m taking my time to make sure I do it right.’”
Can something that simple really make a difference? You bet! “If you think confidently — as in, ‘I know it will happen, it’s just a matter of time’ — you will speak and act confidently,” she asserts. “And you’ll find that the people who are bitter, self-entitled or pessimistic will voluntarily stay away from you because being around someone happy and confident makes them feel worse about themselves.” Now that’s a real bonus. You get a better attitude and increase the chances that unsuitable dates won’t be as interested. “Be your best self,” she says, “and you’ll attract other people who are at their best.”
Ditch the failure dialogue
Another key move: Let go of the “failure” point of view. Your marriage didn’t last, but that doesn’t mean you failed. “Things, situations, and people change and, hopefully, grow,” notes Neil Fiore, a psychologist in Berkeley, CA, and author of Awaken Your Strongest Self: Break Free of Stress, Inner Conflict, and Self-Sabotage. “You may have made a good decision when you married this person, and made another good decision when the marriage stopped working for both or either of you.”
Adds divorcée Holly Kremer of Waltham, MA: “Never, ever think of yourself as ‘damaged goods.’ It took me a while to get over that mode of thought, but I did. Don’t think you have to settle or that you are any ‘less’ than anyone else, just because you are divorced.” She knows what she’s talking about. Kremer is getting married later this year.
Avoid false comforts
Many divorced people feel empty and hurt — and that often leads us to seek comfort. “Out of your loneliness or low self-esteem, it’s easy to want to fill the emptiness or to try to feel better by jumping into bed with someone new,” says Bruce Mulkey, divorced (and now happily-married) co-author of I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook. “I suggest that you avoid this at all costs,” he cautions. “Instead, discern the truth from the fiction in your mind. Set forth an intention to stay out of the blame game — toward yourself, your ex or others. Be gentle with yourself, nurture yourself. Get lots of exercise. Eat well. Get adequate rest. Know that everything happens for a reason, that there is a great gift for you in these events when you are ready to open yourself to them.”
“As much as I wanted to blame my former partners in marriage, the time had come for me to accept responsibility for my life, that I was responsible for the outcome of my marriages,” Mulkey recalls. “And if in the future I wanted a loving, enduring relationship with a significant other, I had to have that quality of relationship with myself. So I got clear about my purpose in life. And I got clear about the kind of woman I wanted to share my life with and my unwillingness to settle for less. And wouldn’t you know it: As soon as I put my clear intention out to the universe, the woman of my dreams showed up and asked me out.”
Getting over divorce is never easy — or fast. But you can begin getting ready for another chance at love today by giving yourself some time and attention. It’s the best way to ensure the right someone will want to give you that, too.
Divorced freelance writer Margot Carmichael Lester is the co-author (with her new husband) of Be A Writer and Be A Better Writer.
Writing your own wedding vows may seem like an imposing task, especially with all of the other matters to be handled when planning a wedding ceremony. But the process can really be inspiring and help you remember why you’ve chosen this special person to walk through life with you.
Below are a few tips that will help you write wedding vows that are compelling, authentic and enduring, vows will wow your family and guests and last for a lifetime.
- Write vows in the positive (e.g., “I will treat you with respect,” instead of, “I will not be disrespectful toward you.”).
- Write vows in the way you speak. If you’re plainspoken, write your vows that way and leave flowery prose to others.
- Write vows that have a sense of the sacred. Such vows come from deep within and you will willingly take them on. If a vow seems to be a directive, a command, or an ultimatum, set it aside and choose another.
- Write vows that are broad enough to apply to your life today and your life fifty years from now.
- Write vows that make you feel joyful, inspired, excited, and optimistic.
- Write vows using bold language. Examples include “I will,” “I commit to,” “As your partner/husband/wife/friend/lover I intend to . . .”
- Write vows that matter to you and your partner, that authentically express what’s in your heart. Your vows are for the two of you, though you may wish to ask your family and/or your community to support you in keeping them.
- Once written, read your vows aloud to make sure the language flows well; revise any awkward sections or phrases that you might stumble on. Do a run-through before the wedding day to get comfortable saying your vows.
- If you intend to memorize your vows, keep a copy of them with you during the ceremony, just in case. Or have the officiant lead you through them, with the officiant saying them first and you repeating them afterward.
- Coordinate your efforts with your officiant. Remember that some religions have restrictions on the vows that can be used in a marriage ceremony. Your officiant may be able to offer suggestions for your vows and incorporate them seamlessly into the ceremony.
Be sure to check out some sample wedding vows by clicking on “Wedding Vows” under Categories in the sidebar. There you’ll find a number of samples including romantic wedding vows and more.
Why is it that giving sincere praise is so challenging for so many of us—even (or perhaps especially) to our significant other? Is this a lost art in our culture, or have we humans always operated like this?
What is so difficult about praising someone for something they’ve done, whether the act was seemingly insignificant or really huge, say, holding the door for you when you have an armload of files or, perhaps, creating world peace in our time. “Thank you. I really appreciate your kindness. That was very thoughtful of you.” Is that truly so hard to say?
But acknowledging someone for something they’ve done seems relatively easy compared to praising another for who they are and what they mean to us. I might graciously thank Shonnie for cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, but how often am I willing to tell her how much I appreciate who she is and how glad I am that she’s in my life when she’s performing no action at all?
And accepting praise is just as difficult for many of us. How many times have you seen someone let an acknowledgment ricochet right off rather than take it in? “The counselor of the year award goes to Mary Jones, who is one of the most valuable and loved staff members in our organization. Let’s have a big round of applause for Mary!” And Mary reacts, “Aw, shucks, folks, it weren’t nothing.” Many might consider this humility. I suggest, however, that such a reaction is really self-deprecation and demonstrates and inability to authentically value oneself.
Frankly, I think we humans thrive on praise; it nourishes us, tells us we’re on the right track and let’s us know we’re appreciated by those around us. Sincere acknowledgments can also remind of us of who we are and what we’re about in this world.
A four-step program for giving your partner praise
- Notice when your significant other does something you really appreciate.
- Clear the chatter in your mind. You don’t have to say just the right thing. You won’t lose points in the relationship game. In fact, you’ll probably gain them, though that’s not the primary objective here.
- Be sincere in your acknowledgment. Speak from your heart.
- Give your partner an ample opportunity to take in your praise before moving on. If you think he or she has deflected it, you might gently ask, “Did you get what I just said? I really meant it.”
A three-step program for accepting praise
- When your partner (or someone else) is acknowledging you, stop for a moment, breathe deeply and take in the meaning of the words being spoken.
- Accept what is being said as the truth.
- Smile and say “thank you.”
Below are five tips from on giving sincere praise from Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project. Useful in your all your relationships–friend, family, co-worker and romantic.
Five Tips for Giving Good Praise
by Gretchen Rubin
Be specific. You read this in a lot of parenting advice: praise means more when it’s specific than when it’s general. “What a beautiful painting!” is less gratifying than “Look at all the colors you’ve used! And I see you used all your fingers with the finger paints. You’ve really made your picture look like a spring garden!” This is true, for adults, too. “Great job,” is less satisfying than an enumeration of what, exactly, was done well.
Acknowledge the actor. The Big Man has a habit of saying something complimentary without acknowledging that I had anything to do with whatever result he’s talking about. For example, with this household project, he looked around once and remarked, “This really turned out well.” As if some deus ex machina had wrought these changes overnight. Aaargh.
The effusiveness and time spent in giving praise should be commensurate with the difficulty and time-intensiveness of the task. If a task was quick and easy, a hasty “Looks great!” will do; if a task was protracted and difficult, the praise should be more lengthy and descriptive. Also, you might bring up the praise more than once.
Remember the negativity bias. The “negativity bias” is a well-recognized psychological phenomenon: people react to the bad more strongly and persistently than to the comparable good. For example, within marriage, it takes at least five good acts to repair the damage of one critical or destructive act. So if you want to praise someone, remember that one critical comment will wipe out several positive comments, and will be far more memorable. To stay silent, and then remark something like, “It’s too bad that that door couldn’t be fixed,” will be perceived as highly critical.
Praise the everyday as well as the exceptional. When people do something unusual, it’s easy to remember to give praise. But what about the things they do well every day without any recognition? It never hurts to point out how much you appreciate the small services and tasks that someone unfailingly performs. Something like, “You know what? In three years, I don’t think you’ve ever been even an hour late with the weekly report.” After all, we never forget to make a comment when someone screws up.
Earlier this month we were interviewed by Coach Iris Benrubi about passionate commitment. We first familiarized our audience with the five levels of commitment from the Commitment Scale in our book I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook:
- Uncommitted—Disconnected entirely from your partner
- Obligated—Begrudging participation, duty-bound
- Desiring—Wishing for a deeper connection
- Committed—Connected to one another as allies, equals
- Passionate commitment (or inspired)—Synergistic partnership, deep connection to one another as well as connection to the world-at-large
Though we may move up and down the scale, the idea is to spend most of one’s time on the committed end of it.
But how do you fully commit to your significant other, whether in a new relationship or in an existing relationship? We offer the following suggestions. You can learn much more about each of these strategies in our book.
- Choice—Choose to be committed, then keep your focus on this choice.
- Vision—Create a joint vision, a vivid mental picture, for the future of your relationship together, and bring that vision into your consciousness on a regular basis.
- Vows—Craft vows or commitments about how you will be one another.
- Live your vows—Put practices in place that support you to be intentional about keeping your commitments to yourself and to one another.
- Daily housekeeping—Handle all disconnections from your partner as they arise, stepping over nothing; work through conflict and bring yourself back to connection.
- Empathic listening—Make a conscious effort to truly hear and understand your partner’s point of view.
- Forgiveness—Refuse to hold ill will and clean up resentments as you go. Ask for and offer forgiveness for all transgressions.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Review the first 15 pages of I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook (PDF format).
“When you are for me as much as you are for yourself, and I am for you as much as I am for myself, we will start to understand the meaning of our relationship.”
~ Brad Brown
The process of creating a conscious, enduring relationship is a sacred journey, an evolving partnership in which both partners are fully committed to loving, honoring and respecting one another and themselves. Below are some suggestions for creating such a relationship for yourself.
- Be clear about what you really want in your significant other and in your relationship.
- Choose to fully commit—all the way in without reservation.
- Create meaningful guidelines—vows or commitments—for your relationship that you and your partner intend to follow throughout your time together.
- Have a clear vision about where you want to go together and how you intend to get there.
- Ensure that your values are in alignment, not necessarily the same but aligned nonetheless.
- Meet regularly to review your vows/commitments, acknowledge one another, and tell your truths.
- Tell the truth even when you believe it might be challenging for the other to hear.
- Focus on what is working in the relationship and the positive attributes of one another.
- Clean up your space as you go and step over nothing.
- Refuse to hold onto ill will. Resentment is the real relationship killer.
- Support one another to be fully authentic, rather than try to get your partner to become the person you sometimes believe he/she should be.
Take these actions and see how your relationship blossoms and your happiness grows.
If you want some great, tested advice about how to make your relationship thrive, read What Has Made it Work? Wisdom from The Happiest Couple I Know a post by our good friend, Adrian Deal. In it she shares the practices of her uncle Mike and aunt Kathy. Below are the 10 habits they’ve used to cultivate their happiness through the years.
- We Only Made Two Promises
- We Don’t Expect Things From Each Other
- We Let Go of Jealousy
- We Treat Each Other as True Friends
- We Don’t Tease
- We Build and Cherish Private Traditions
- “That’s The Wrong Answer!”
- We Make No Deals
- We Assume We Won’t Fulfill All Needs
- We Hug Often
Shonnie’s observations: I think their light-hearted way of saying, “That’s the wrong answer,” is a great way to diffuse the tension of potentially sticky situations. It’s a gentle way of redirecting the conversation without making it easy for anyone to feel guilty. Not having expectations is also a great way to avoid conflict and minimize one’s chances of being “let down.” Equally valuable is not teasing and this is a conversation Bruce and I have from time to time. Though swaddled in the guise of “just joking,” teasing often has an unloving or dishonoring message at its core.
Bruce’s observations: I don’t know what Mike and Kathy’s two promises were, yet it’s clear that they’ve made it simple to be intentional about their commitments to one another. Bravo! Plus hugging is a great way to stay connected–physically, emotionally and spiritually. A practice I learned from David Deida: When I sense a disconnection between me and Shonnie, I hug her, really hug her so that our hearts are physically close, and without words I let her know that I love her deeply, that all is well, that I’m with her all the way.
Yeah for Kathy and Mike for making their first 24 years so fantastic. Here’s best wishes for the same kind of bliss over the next quarter-century.
What do guys really want? Chicks with nice boobs? Copious amounts of cold beer? Plenty of sports? A really cool car? The new iPhone? Well, that online video of Jennifer Aniston strolling topless down the beach is pretty titillating. And it’s hard to beat a pint of good ale with a hot slice of pizza. Furthermore, when our favorite team is competing on TV, family, social and business commitments are often out the window. And, yes, nice wheels are imperative. As are the latest gadgets from Apple.
But beneath all the grab ass, locker room banter and fascination with things that go fast (cars and computers alike), we guys have some deeper wants and needs that we don’t always share with our female counterparts. So in the interest of greater XX-XY harmony, here’s a list of what guys really want from the women in our lives.
We want you to tell us what you want. Of course, sharing what you really want from us doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it. But it sure as hell increases the odds. Plus it eliminates the need for us to make dubious assumptions, take half-assed guesses or play Kreskin and try to read your mind. For starters maybe you could tell us how and when you prefer to be touched, how you want to be comforted when you’re feeling low and what really turns you on in bed.
When we’re grumpy, sullen or withdrawn, we want you to understand that it’s probably not about you. We guys have our ups and downs just like you do. Often we’re not even conscious of what’s going on. We just know something’s not quite right, and we tend to pull back. From your perspective, it may be easy to think we’re pissed at you or dissatisfied with the relationship, when frequently it’s just that we’re not at peace with ourselves, which brings us to . . .
We sometimes want time alone. Don’t take our desire for solitude personally. Occasionally we just want some down time to “be,” to consider our own wants and needs, to reconnect with who we really are so that we don’t become enmeshed with you, so that we can come back and offer you the best of who we are.
Just listen when we dream out loud. Sometimes we guys like to share our dreams aloud. When we do so we are not asking for your approval, feedback, opinion on how realistic they are or strategies for achieving them. We’re merely having fun envisioning future possibilities that we may or may not intend to actually manifest.
If you’re pissed about something, put it out straight. If we do something and you react with anger, we’d appreciate it if you’d share your displeasure then and there. It might not be very pleasant, but it’s a hell of lot better for us than being blindsided by pent up resentment that leaks out days or months after the original event occurred.
Be gentle with your language. Frequently teasing, clever banter and wisecracks directed toward us or toward the male sex in general are actually thinly disguised criticism and disapproval. This kind of behavior tears at the fabric of our connection, and when we’re on the receiving end, it hurts more than we’re typically willing to let on.
We like to be acknowledged. Let us know when we’ve done something for which you are grateful. A simple, sincere “thank you” can foster a stronger connection between us as well as increase our desire to replicate the action or way of being.
We want you to love us as we are. Guys are not here to live up to your expectations. We’re not projects or fixer-uppers. As the eminent philosopher Popeye the Sailor Man once said, “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam.” Having said that . . .
We want you to help us remember who we are when we forget. As members of the human race, we sometimes forget who we really are and what the hell we’re doing here. At times like these we yearn for you to nudge us in the right direction. We may resist at first, but when you compassionately remind us of our strengths, our personal power and the gifts we have to offer the world, we’ll ultimately be deeply grateful for your love and support.
Fully commit to the relationship. Yeah, we know. We’re supposed to be the ones with commitment issues. But when we’re assured that you’re in all the way, the space is opened for us to join you. And when that happens, there’s no more looking around for someone better, no more “should I stay or should I go,” no more exit strategies. We’re both on firm ground and can relax and enjoy it.
When all’s said and done, we’re not the indifferent, irascible bad boys, the technoholic geeks or the politically correct metrosexuals we may sometimes appear to be. We’re just guys . . . with hearts and minds and spirits. Wanting to connect, wanting to love and be loved, wanting to express our tenderness toward you . . . but sometimes just aren’t quite sure how.
Oh, and about Jennifer Aniston’s boobs . . . they’re definitely not real.
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An earlier version of this post appeared in the June 2007 Y chromosome issue of Western North Carolina Woman. In addition, an abbreviated version of this post was entered in Problogger’s Top 5 Writing Project.