It’s your wedding day. You and your beloved are standing in front of a crowd of people, concentrating so hard on not flubbing your lines that you can’t even focus on what you’re actually saying. (And let’s face it, nobody else is focusing on what you’re saying either; they’re all fantasizing about the reception food and rethinking their decision to wear Spanx.)
But does it even matter whether or not you’ve got anyone’s full attention? Wedding vows are so unspecific. That’s half the reason why people are tuning out: If you’ve heard one set of vows, you’ve heard ‘em all. To have and to hold, to love and to cherish, for richer or poorer and a million variations thereof. What if the promises couples make to one another were updated to be a little more specific and a little more reflective of actual married life?
I promise to overlook stretch marks, varicose veins, and stray hairs, and not make rude comments about that 15 (or 50?) pounds you will inevitably gain over the years.
I promise to still think you’re a sexy beast even if you lose your hair.
I promise to poop with the door closed.
I promise to keep complaints about the in-laws to a minimum, unless they do something really heinous.
I promise to keep my backseat driving tendencies in check, or at least try to most of the time.
I promise to tell you if you’ve got something in your teeth.
I promise not to be jealous, unless you’re flirting with someone, because “Are you sure? That totally looked like flirting to me.”
I promise to split the household duties equally, even the gross ones like pulling all of the disgusting slimy hair out of the drain.
I promise not to complain when you overspend and then do it myself.
I promise never to lie to you, except maybe where questions like, “Am I looking old?” are concerned.
I promise I won’t hog the covers.
I promise to recognize that we’re both going to change over the years and to do my best to go with the flow.
I promise to share control of the TV even when you have the poorest taste in entertainment ever.
I promise not to let my body hair and/or toenails become long enough to poke and/or injure you.
I promise not to leave hair trimmings and/or nail clippings all over the place.
I promise not to bring home any new pets without prior warning and discussion.
I promise to be responsive to your needs, like the times when chocolate is not an option but a necessity.
I promise never to leave you stranded without toilet paper.
I promise to initiate the occasional date night (where we swear we won’t talk about the kids, but do anyway).
I promise to clue you in if you’re making an egregious fashion mistake, e.g., a fanny pack.
I promise to tolerate an occasional foul mood as long as you’re not an asshole 90 percent of the time.
I promise to back you up in your parenting decisions instead of secretly allowing the kids to do whatever you said not to.
I promise to leave the room in the event of exceptionally raunchy gas.
I promise never to leave toast crumbs in the butter or jelly.
I promise to forget I’ve ever seen you throw up/give birth/pick your nose/pop a pimple.
I promise not to ignore an overflowing trash can.
I promise not to nag (that much).
I promise to do little things to make you smile.
I promise to fondly remember the person you were, but to love the person you are.
I promise to always keep sight of what’s good about us, even in the midst of a shitstorm.
Traditional wedding vows leave much to be desired. What does “to have and to hold” really even mean, anyway? They may have an idealistic, rose-tinted viewpoint from the altar, but more realistic vows would better equip newlyweds for what marriage really is: a decades-long dance of ups and downs, ebbs and flows, snoring and farts. It’s beautiful, it’s exhausting, and it’s so much more than “to love and to cherish” could ever convey.