I have always maintained that marriage begins the day both parents handed their children over to themselves with their consent which is often accompanied by the ceremony we call “Traditional Wedding”. However, traditional commemorations don’t allow us to exchange vows in what is reckoned to be a covenant.
This may not be a big deal for those who hold the customary views of polygamy in high esteem but for those of us who firmly support monogamous relationships, it is very important. The traditional ceremonies often leave the woman with little or no choice other than affirming that the man before her is the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with but it doesn’t go further than that. It leaves the man with
Our tradition is wired around antiquated customs which served certain purposes then but may not be valid today and some that still serve a great purpose today. There is nothing wrong if the ancient path is what you have chosen but this must be in agreement with your partner with regards to the rule of law today.
I believe these things are conversations that are supposed to happen before entering a marriage. You don’t enter marriage with the promise of sticking to each other forever only to begin to romance around the thoughts of men being “polygamous in nature”.
It is in this regard that the exchange of vows is very important and vital at the beginning of a marital union. No wonder, in Nigeria you may be required to complete the traditional marriage ceremony before exchanging vows and not the other way round. I believe that an ideal marriage (at least for those who cherish monogamous relationships) should be the one where both couples are allowed to exchange vows.
Although many people make light of these vows, they are very important for those who know the weight. I often wonder why people make vows that they aren’t willing to keep. Vows are supposed to constrain your partner to make bare how they feel and what they are willing to commit to.
Before our wedding ceremony in Church, during the marriage class, the Reverend asked if we would want to write our own vows ourselves. It was an opportunity to write out what is on our minds if what was written in the Book of Common Prayer isn’t ideal for us. For I and my wife, we chose to adopt the vows in the Book of Common Prayer.
Vows are the most important part of marriage as long as you hold the view that marriage is a union between two persons and not between a community and one person. It is more than fulfilling righteousness especially if the vows mean something important for you.
Why exchange vows?
The vows are like a seal, a covenant that couples are expected to abide by. We are no longer in those olden days where people are given wives or husbands without their consent, where marriage is used to seal business relationships or family friendships. Marriage is about the couple and nothing else.
By exchanging vows, couples show their dedication to whom they are getting married to and their devotion to keeping God’s word concerning marriage if they are believers. Exchange of vows in Church in the presence of other believers kind of makes us accountable, it makes us understand that we have a responsibility to ourselves as couples, to the Church as a community and to God whom we believe in.
Exchange of vows also gives us a sense of responsibility. Personally, I took my vows seriously and I believe that it will be dishonourable to the Church, to the members and my family if I do not abide by my vows. I am not saying that temptations may not arise, I am not saying that people can’t make mistakes and I am not even saying that humans don’t break vows. But anyone faithful to making it work will make every effort to make it work, such a person will also take responsibility for mistakes.
In summary, in exchanging vows, couples make promises to each other. So, when I told my wife during the exchange of vow that I will love her forever till death do us part, it was a promise that I must keep at all cost even when I don’t feel like it.