Before you invest in I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook, we want you to have a sense of whether it’s the right book for you. One way to do so is to determine if the philosophy, values and beliefs expressed in the book are aligned with your vision for yourselves and your lives together.
Our thoughts on creating a happy marriage
- Marriage is a partnership created by two people who love and want the best for one another.
- A wedding (or commitment ceremony) is the official beginning of a marriage, but a marriage is a lifelong journey that you have committed to take together.
- Powerful, meaningful vows provide a solid foundation on which to build your marriage, and by upholding these commitments you’ll be better able to handle the bumps when they come.
- Having a shared vision–how you will relate to each other, what values you live, your desired future destination–is essential. If you’re on divergent paths, it’s difficult to journey together.
- Love is essential to a wonderful marriage. So are respect, forgiveness, compassion, honesty, cooperation, clarity, purposefulness, and “for-ness” (being fully committed to the other person and supporting their growth).
- It’s imperative that you develop, practice, and hone your communication skills (listening as well as speaking). You’ll use them every day, and they affect every part of your relationship.
- Even the best relationships have ups and downs. How you choose to handle the bumps in the road as you journey together is of prime importance.
- No one has all the answers to marriage/relationship questions. However, seeking out the company of those who practice love, respect, and intimacy in their relationships will support you as much as expert advice.
- Openness to learning, growth, and change will serve you well in marriage, because time and experience will alter who you are and maybe even your vision for your journey together.
Learn more about our relationship philosophy and the Marriage Vow Workbook by listening to a recent interview (16 minutes) we gave to Dave Debs from The Coach Corner. You have to create a free account to access this recording, yet the process is very simple and quick to complete.
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
~ Mignon McLaughlin
Remember when we told you about the Wedding Podcast Network–a great resource for planning your wedding? Well, guess what? We were featured guests on episode 22 of their show–Bridal Scene!
Robert Allen, one of the Wedding Podcast Network’s founders, interviewed us about I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook. In addition to our conversation about how to write your own wedding vows, the importance of personal wedding vows, and what’s included in The Marriage Vow Workbook, there’s some other great info on this podcast.
“We believe that each couple has the vows within them. We put together a process to draw those vows out.”
~ Bruce Mulkey
Planning your wedding can be a hectic, challenging time. For many couples, the idea of using their own vows is appealing, yet the thought of having one more thing “to do” can seem overwhelming. We understand this dilemma and wrote The Marriage Vow Workbook to give you a path to follow in writing your own wedding vows.
In this episode of the I Do! I Do! podcast (12 minutes 18 seconds long), we share part of our interview by radio talk show host, Karen Ross, from 106.3 FM in Greenville, South Carolina. Here are the areas we talk about with Karen.
- Why we were inspired to write The Marriage Vow Workbook
- How the book benefits couples entering their first marriage as well as people who are preparing to remarry and those who are renewing their vows
- Writing your own wedding vows is easier than you might think
- How reviewing your vows on a regular basis helps to keep your love strong
- How The Marriage Vow Workbook offers more than simply a process for writing your own wedding vows
- The advantages of having thoughtful relationship conversations before you get married
- The value couples receive from taking the opportunity to go deep and explore some areas like values, goals, and their vision for the relationship before they ever say “I do”
“Looking at some of these exercises [in The Marriage Vow Workbook], they’re important in ways other than just writing the vows. I would imagine this opens up some real areas of insight for couples.”
~ Karen Ross
If you have questions about writing the vows for your upcoming wedding, drop us a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Us page. We’re here to help you get your marriage started off right.
In I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook, we offer you a step-by-step approach for writing your own unique vows, vows that will express your love in your own words. In addition to the numerous exercises, we provide suggestions based on our own experience as a happily married couple.
If you’re in the process of writing your wedding vows here are a few tips for making these self-authored marriage promises to your beloved:
- 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 register a strong “yes” within you when you read them to yourself. Something inside you will let you know that this commitment is right for you.
- Write vows that speak to the best in you and your partner.
Writing your own vows can be one was to get your marriage off to a strong start. Even if you don’t think of yourselves as writers, trust us, by using The Marriage Vow Workbook (either the print or e-book version) or another thoughtful process, you can write vows that beautifully express your committed love. Even if you want to have elements of tradition in your wedding, writing your own wedding vows can bring you and your partner closer and deepen the love you now feel.
Congratulations and have fun writing your vows!
Since it is impossible to keep good love down, more, not fewer variations of love and family arrangement will thrive.
Amen to that I say. Love cannot be constrained by any prescription of the “right” way. How do I know? I’ve learned it through my life experience.
- I was born to a teenage mother who, through love, was willing to give me to another family who possibly (and hopefully) could give me a “better life.”
- I was adopted by two amazing people whose love molded us into one family that was as strong as any bound by blood ties.
- I was welcomed with loving, open hearts into a new family when my mom remarried after my parent’s divorce.
- I was loved faithfully by a woman who transitioned from her role as my dad’s girlfriend into his wife.
- I was lovingly re-welcomed by the courageous woman who gave me up at birth and her entire family.
- I was received with love by the family of the man who is now my husband, despite our 28 year age difference.
Love is a power that no strictures can diminish and no rules can define. I am grateful that this is true, not only for love’s impact on my life, but for the opportunity we each have to let love be our guiding light.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.~ Rumi
One of Bruce and my highest intentions is to help create a world of greater love, compassion, and connection, and we wrote I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook out of this calling. The book is offered as a tool to support any and all couples who love one another to stay in love with one another, whether they are of different or same sex, foreign or shared cultural heritage, dissimilar or similar age, distinct or common religious beliefs. We believe that by offering our gifts in this way, we will nurture the spirit of love and help it flourish in diverse and beautiful families across the globe.
Would you like some free tips on preparing for marriage? Would you like to see how one couple created a wedding that totally reflected their values and interests? Would you like to spend thirty minutes discovering how to simplify your wedding?
Marriage experts make our national television debut
If you’re looking for free, inspirational, and practical ideas for your wedding, be sure to watch the Simple Weddings episode of Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska. It’s a PBS show televised in most markets nationwide. It is due to air sometime between January 15 and January 22. To find out when it airs in your town, click here.
Here are some of the wedding resources you’ll find on the show:
- Be inspired by the wedding of Eddie McGee and Anna Nixon. This couple involved friends and family in creating their wedding ceremony. Their vehicles of choice after the reception were their bicycles.
- Marriage experts, none other than yours truly, Shonnie Lavender and Bruce Mulkey, share insights on how to write your own wedding vows and plan for a successful marriage right from the start.
- Get tips from wedding experts on creating a ceremony that is green, meaningful, and even low cost.
Please pass the word along to any friends who are engaged and looking for ideas on creating a meaningful, unique, and magical wedding. Feel free to stop by our blog after the show and let us know what you thought.
Good question. And given the fact that I coauthored I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook, I figure sooner or later someone will ask it. So here’s the answer:
Both of my former wives were lovely and loving women, and my time with them was filled with periods of deep connection as well as periods of great challenge. However, being immature and irresponsible, I knew very little about commitment–what it meant to be faithful to a significant other. In addition, there were no basic agreements in my first two marriages about how we would be with one another and how we would sustain our relationship. It was like trying to play a baseball game without any rules. How many outs per inning? Three? Four? Five? Is catching the ball on one hop an out or do you have to catch it on the fly? Without such an essential element of a successful long-term relationship, it’s really no wonder that we ultimately grew apart and divorced.
After my second divorce, I retreated to a little cottage in the hills outside Austin, Texas. I had been with an uninterrupted stream of women my entire life–first my mom, next my girlfriends, then my two wives–and now was a time for me to focus on myself rather than the other. I lived there the better part of five years, with my cat, Chocolate, as my only companion. I got clear about who I was’not the macho, tough guy I sometimes pretended to be, but not the wimpy, new-age guy either. 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 wouldn’t you know it: As soon as I put my explicit intention out to the Universe, the woman of my dreams showed up.
Though totally unaware of one another’s existence, both Shonnie and I serendipitously joined a marathon training program during the hot Austin Texas summer of 1995. Based on a time trial, we both were placed in the intermediate runners, a group composed of approximately thirty runners. As our group’s numbers dwindled in the months preceding the race, a handful of us continued to train together at Lake Austin every Saturday morning, completing the Austin Motorola Marathon together in February 1996. And though the remaining members of our group sometimes went out for pancakes at the Magnolia Cafe after our weekly runs, we typically didn’t see each other outside our workouts. So one Saturday we made plans to go out for music and a few beers. When the appointed time arrived, however, only two runners showed up–me and Shonnie. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A few months later when Shonnie and I entered a committed relationship, we decided we would create commitments and an intention for our relationship before we moved in together. Thus we had agreements about how we would be with one another that served us right from the beginning, agreements that still hang on our bedroom wall. When we were preparing for our marriage, we devoted a lot of time and attention to the creation our marriage vows and our intention for our marriage. With these sacred commitments in place, we’re clear about which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. We’re assured that neither of us has any intention of deliberately doing or saying anything disrespectful or unloving. We give each other permission to speak up when he/she sees something that’s incongruent in the other’s words or actions. We support one another to grow, to expand, to fully be oneself. We acknowledge our individual and joint successes and commiserate when things don’t turn out as we’d planned. We envision our future together and work to create it. All of this from our steadfast love for one another and these sacred vows we are pledged to uphold.
Today award-winning, syndicated columnist Susan Reinhardt’s story about us and our book, I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook appeared on the front page of the Asheville Citizen-Times Living section. And we couldn’t be more pleased and grateful for Susan’s column and for this opportunity for folks to learn about our work.
The story, “Feelings of the Heart: You don’t have to be a professional to write your own wedding vows,” tells about our relationship and how we came to write The Marriage Vow Workbook. It also includes quotes from Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., author of the NY Times bestseller Getting the Love You Want who contributed to the book, and from newly-weds Allison Jordan and Gil Holmes, who used the book to write their vows.
In addition, the story offers our how-to tips for writing your own vows as well as Tom and Sharon Parish’s “Tips for Staying Together” that they gave us as a wedding gift in 1999.
Our profound gratitude to each of you who have supported (and are supporting) us in this endeavor, be it in action, word or spirit. Our intention is to make our book available to couples who want to create fulfilling and enduring relationships and, in doing so, help shift the cultural paradigm toward one of greater love, connection and compassion.
Of course we welcome you to pass along this article to anyone else who you think would be interested. Thanks!
We’re delighted to let you know that we’ve received an endorsement from the Director of the Religion and Faith Program for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). This segment of the HRC is focused on “organizing and harnessing fair-minded communities of faith. The program provides information on affirming faith communities and organizations as well as encourages full participation of all people of faith who support gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) equality.”
Since we wrote The Marriage Vow Workbook with all couples in mind, this is an endorsement we are delighted to receive. As we stated in the book’s Introduction:
“Whether you and your partner are conservative or liberal, whether you’re straight or gay, whether this is your first marriage or you’ve been married previously, whether you’re religious or not, you can use this workbook to create a powerful and enduring relationship.”
Now, here’s what Harry Knox with the Human Rights Campaign has said:
Mindful that we are all children of God, authors Shonnie Lavender and Bruce Mulkey have consciously crafted I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook as a valuable resource for every couple who wishes to enter a committed relationship, regardless of age, ethnic origin, spiritual faith, or sexual orientation. Throughout the book Shonnie and Bruce share the wisdom they’ve gained as they met the challenges of their three-decade age difference and built the framework for their loving, soulful marriage. I highly recommend The Marriage Vow Workbook for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, as well as all others, who want to write their own distinctive wedding vows and abide by these commitments throughout their lives together.
~ Harry Knox, Director of Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program
No matter how much confidence I have in The Marriage Vow Workbook and what we’re offering to couples, it’s still extremely gratifying to have an independent “authority” endorse our book. That’s precisely what I’m celebrating today–a wonderfully affirming recommendation for our book published in the Asheville Daily Planet independent newspaper. Marc Mullinax, M.Div., Ph.D., chairman of the philosophy and religion departments at Mars Hill College, counsels couples and helps them prepare for their weddings. As he writes at the opening of his article titled Work of love? It requires initial attraction, perpetual attention:
“One of my great pleasures is counseling couples for marriage, and assisting in their wedding ceremonies. I insist on the counseling part, for love is easy to fall into, but hard to make stay.
In fact, you cannot make it stay. There’s a mystery to love that defies formulaic principles for making it stay. Each couple has to work that formula out for themselves.”
He continues, his article, making numerous important observations about love and marriage, one of my favorites being, “To fail the tests of love in our lives means that we run the risk of living lovelessly. Such a condition is fatal to our souls, long before our bodies wear out.” Marc supplies many more gems in his piece, and I’m given to trust his advice.
Of course, one piece of advice I hope many will follow is his recommendation for our book. As he writes, “I’m recommending it to all those who are in love, and want to enable love to stay.”
Thank you, Marc!