I was checking out some wedding vows to then write mine on my own. And I realised how much are they saying about one’s definition of what marriage means to them...
For instance in the Polish Catholic Church the standard words are:
Ja (imię) biorę ciebie (imię) za żonę/męża i ślubuję ci miłość, wierność i uczciwość małżeńską oraz że cię nie opuszczę aż do śmierci. Tak mi dopomóż Panie Boże wszechmogący w Trójcy Jedyny i wszyscy święci.
I (name) take you (name) to be my wife/husband and I pledge to you my love, fidelity and marital honesty and that I won’t leave you until death. So help me Lord God all-powerful, one in three, and all the saints.
Even ignoring all the stuff directly related to religion, I don’t think I would feel comfortable using that vow. Just think about how much it dictates! Sure, only to the people who want to get married in church and who believe the catholic doctrine anyway, but still.
Is it not a marriage, if you decide to do it because of immigration issues or tax breaks? Can anyone police you on whether or not you actually love each other? I’m sure as hell that huge number of people who pledged their “love” during such a wedding, never actually loved each other.
And if you do love each other, but don’t really care for “fidelity”? Would it be fair to vow it, even though you both agreed you’re fine with an open relationship?
“Marital honesty” is a part I don’t really get. How is it different from usual honesty? And why should anyone have to promise that, shouldn’t being an honest person be a moral standard, and not something you start doing to one person after pledging it one day? Still: want a catholic wedding? – vow what we tell you to.
“I won’t leave you until death” – that’s actually scary. You might think you know a person, you might actually know them really well, but how could you possibly know that in 10, 20 or 30 years they won’t change? How many wives suffer under their abusive husbands just because they pledged “I won’t leave you until death”?
If you want a secular wedding, the wording in a Polish Registry Office is:
Świadomy/Świadoma praw i obowiązków wynikających z zawarcia małżeństwa uroczyście oświadczam, że wstępuję w związek małżeński z (imię i nazwisko drugiej z osób wstępujących w związek małżeński) i przyrzekam, że uczynię wszystko, aby nasze małżeństwo było zgodne, szczęśliwe i trwałe.
Aware of rights and duties resulting from marriage, I solemnly declare that I enter a marriage with (name and surname) and I swear I’ll do everything so that our marriage is peaceful, happy and lasting.
And I really hate it. It sounds so soulless! And it still makes some assumptions about what should your marriage look like.
In Germany, on the other hand, well... The bill doesn’t provide any specific wording, it just requires that two people jointly declare that they want to get married, and that an official acknowledges that. From what I’ve seen on youtube, that’s exactly what happens: The registrar asks both people “do you want to get married to (name)?” and waits for a “ja”.
And, from what I know, you can also add your own vow. Which makes it perfect in my eyes: the government doesn’t require you to comply with any idea of marriage, it just confirms you’re married – but you are free to say as many nice things and promise as many promises as you wish.
And that’s what marriage should be in my opinion: whatever the fuck the couple wants it to be!