Thursday, August 21, 2008

Honoring Your Wedding Vows


Being married again has given me lots to ponder these last two weeks. I am truly thrilled with my bride and the life we are building together. And I am reminded often that this never would have been possible if I had not fully let go of Deb. And that's what has me pondering recently.

Tonight's post is likely to be the strongest thing I have ever written, so I'll preface it by a word or two of warning. First off, if you are newly bereaved or within the first year, this post is not really meant for you, so you may want to give it a pass.

In fact, even if you're in year two or three, you may want to give it a pass. It really is that strong. I'm writing it specifically for that one person out there who truly wants to let go of their dead spouse, but something is holding them back.

So, if you continue to read this post despite my warnings and are appalled, hurt, or angered, then I'm sorry, this message wasn't meant for you. Please spare me the hate mail ;-) The one person out there for whom this is intended will recognize that it is for them. I don't mean to be so blunt, but it needs to be said, and I have yet to read this anywhere else. And please keep in mind that I'm not some shrink in an ivory tower — I have been where you are, and I can appreciate the kind of pain you are experiencing. I would relieve you of that pain. That is my motivation, nothing more.

Last chance to turn back!




Marriage is a curious thing. As I was mentioning in the epilogue to my story, I was more emotional while reciting my wedding vows than I had anticipated. The following simple words of traditional wedding vows have been dancing around in my head:

'to have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part'


It is that last line that has me pondering.

Marriage is a contract. In that contract, we state what we will do, and the conditions under which we will perform.

I've been a contractor for well over 10 years now, so I'm quite familiar with the language used in contracts. Every time I sign a new one, I always pay close attention to the "exit clause." I want to know how much notice I have to give them, and how much notice they have to give me, and when I'll receive what is owed to me, and what restrictions are placed upon me at the end of the contract, like not working for a competitor for 12 months.

Most of the IT contracts I sign run into dozens of pages and use reams of legal jargon. So it must be the simple, compact, and concise nature of the vows above that has struck me. Such a contrast from most modern contracts!

You have probably already figured out where I'm going with this. At death, we are parted, and all our contractual obligations are dissolved. There are no restrictions placed upon us at the end of the contract. We no longer have our mate, we no longer hold them, and we are no longer obligated to love and cherish them.

Yes, I know that last line is anathema for just about everyone reading it. Relax — I'm not writing it for you.

I'm writing it for that one person (you know who you are) who wants to let go of your dead spouse and go on living, but you feel a deep sense of guilt about doing so. You feel that you will be going against your word, that you will be out of your integrity, and that you will be dishonoring your late mate.

You will not be doing any of these things.

What you essentially said in your marriage vows was, "I will do all these things while you are alive, but when you are no longer alive, I will no longer do these things."

You probably never thought about it like that before, did you?

Does that mean that the moment your spouse dies, you no longer love or cherish them? No! What it does mean is that you are no longer obligated to do so. You are now free to do so, but you don't have to do so anymore. You are now free from that bond, that responsibility.

In other words, any lingering guilt you feel about letting go and living your own life is without foundation. Think back to your vows, and ask yourself if you have fulfilled them.

Now that your spouse is dead, you have completed your marriage contract. You have fulfilled your obligations. You are now free to direct your attentions elsewhere.

You are free to live as you please.

Please do so.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that post. I don't think it is too strong (and I've only been a widow six weeks). That's where I am coming from. I look at the world in some respects as very black and white (I'm in a legal related field, and my late husband was attorney), but I know people would simply NOT understand how I could be looking forward so soon.

Anonymous said...

My husband died just a year ago. When I was telling him goodbye at the hospital while in coma, I was thinking just like you said: it looks like our "life contract" and relationship end right here right now; thank you for what you gave me, I will now have to live my life on my own now, and it's O.K. to do so...

I just don't like the fact that I've been accepting so well this new life without him... Am I too resilient???


Brigitte

jessica said...

Like the others who posted - I am a widow of just over 3 months, and I think your post was well-written, too. And I share the feelings of these other two. Yes, I loved him; and yes, I grieve over the loss of him. But no - I do not feel guilty for moving on with my life. People have told me, "It hasn't REALLY hit you yet." And that is something else that they THINK they know, but do not. They don't see me at home, don't know how unexpectedly tears flow from hidden sources. But I am here, and I am alive and I want to be around others and hope to love someone again, someday.

Much happiness to you and to your new bride. May you have MANY years together and many memories.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Congrautlations and much love to you both

M

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post and for the comments. I am a widow of three months. My husband suffered a five year illness. I feel that his passing set us both free and it's refreshing to see like minded others who not only understand the finality of their spouse's death but recognize that they themselves are continuing to live.

Nat said...

Congrats Vic! So happy for you! xx

Anonymous said...

Your post is very true and appropriate for people who made the vow of "till death us do part" when married. My wedding vows were for eternity. As our faith believes in re-incarnation, our level of handfasting (or marriage) included more than one lifetime.

Although I had to search for my soul mate in this lifetime, after I found him, that was it for me. The joy that we brought to each other was an ecstasy practiced over several lifetimes. How could I possibly conceive of marrying someone else when I "know" that he is my eternal soul mate?

Julianna said...

Re the anonymous post of 16 June 2010.
Not many people speak of love for ETERNITY--but that was our vow, too.I'm not keen on having another earthly reincarnation, but would come back again and again to love him for lifetimes, if that's what he needed.
Hardly anyone speaks of this type of love, so thank you for letting me know there are others who expereince it. And, I wasn't offended by your post, Vic. In fact, your way of looking at the the marraige contract clarifed my way of seeing it. Hope you will be fulfilled in your new contract.

Vic said...

Hi Julianna, I'm very sorry for your loss.

I'm glad you found this posting helpful. And yes, being married again is wonderful :-)

May you find peace,

Vic

Anonymous said...

I think you were in fact divinely inspired. I have been gripped by the guilt and commitment issues. My husband died suddenly,8 months ago. I am a wife crippled by my dependendency issues working on an obligation I can no longer fulfill no matter how hard I try. but thank you for bringing to life I do have a choice in this matter. I can choose my life.And still love our life. bless you.

jackson said...

Death do us part, who wrote that, a man, a mere mortal. I know that my spouse has left me, not of her own choosing, but she is gone until we meet again and we will be together again, to enjoy the Lord' kingdom together I do realize that some men must have a female body next to them in the sack, so they quickly find a replacement. I am pleased with having the other side of my bed empty, waiting to be united with my true love.

Patricia said...

Everyone is different. My husband and I had such a spectacular life together, a spell-binding camaraderie, trips all over the US, interesting, unusual experiences, loads of fun, short story and novel writing, a band that played all over the southern part of our state, educating ourselves on any topic that sparked our interest, etc., etc. For me, no one could have given me that same level of exciting life. So, I will not marry again. But I am not living alone. My daughter moved me in to her home which consists of her wonderful husband and two lively grandsons. Now, I can't imagine living anywhere else. The loss of my husband will always be painful, but I am learning to envelope it into my psyche and get on with my life. It's what he wanted for me. It's the same thing I would have wanted for him if I had died first, for him to get on with his life in whatever manner was best for him.

Anonymous said...

I have to comment even though I'm not a widow. I'm a woman on the other side dating a widower. This post gives me such a fresh perspective on life after death in a matriage. I hope to someday marry my boyfriend who happens to be a widower. I will share this blog with those who I know can and will benefit. Thank you.

-B

Anonymous said...

...once again, this post is NOT for you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thank you Vic and congrats.

I am a 4 month widow and desperately miss my best friend. That said, I'm sorry to hear that people are closing themselves off to the possibility of new love someday.

People can have more than one soulmate. If you are religious, why do you think you know better than your God in deciding what's best for you? Maybe your soul needs to grow in ways your mortal self knows nothing about. What might you need to accomplish this time around? How do you know you don't have a new love planned for you that is also someone you were with un a last life and you chose to return to earth together?

Be happy, be open and let love in. We are meant to love and be loved. We are meant to learn and grow. Don't shut the door on being happy. What God or dead spouse would want that for you?

I am hopeful for love again someday. I have a lot of years still ahead of me that I will live with as much love as possible.... when I'm ready to start over :)

Best to all! Be happy!

Julie Baldwin said...

I was so glad to run across your post today. You see I am marrying again after being a young widow for almost 4 yrs. I watched my late husband linger for several months. My future husbands late wife was killed in a car wreck. While we both miss our late spouses we know that we need to live and love again. Being a hospice nurse I know that life is precious and plan to enjoy it again.

Kellie Sanchez said...

I lost my husband in a home invasion on April 22, 2016 during what police believe to be a home invasion in our home. My husband just happened to be there as he has gotten a later load to pick up that day. My husband was 47 and I was 40. My husband grew up together. I was 14 when I met him and we had 4 beautiful children and 2 grandons before he passed.

I am coming on the 6 month point and his birth is just a few days before and I sm just starting to function. I am having a really hard time because all of my life was wrapped around one another. We lived for each other, did whatever we could to make each other happy.

I know God gives us permisdion to marry agsin but I have already found the man who I want to have all my memories with. I know I dont ever want another man but I want to help other homicide victims and help children in the foster care system.

They still havent made any arrest so until tben that will be my main fight is to get justice for my husband, my children, my grandchildren and me.

Kellie Sanchez said...

I lost my husband in a home invasion on April 22, 2016 during what police believe to be a home invasion in our home. My husband just happened to be there as he has gotten a later load to pick up that day. My husband was 47 and I was 40. My husband grew up together. I was 14 when I met him and we had 4 beautiful children and 2 grandons before he passed.

I am coming on the 6 month point and his birth is just a few days before and I sm just starting to function. I am having a really hard time because all of my life was wrapped around one another. We lived for each other, did whatever we could to make each other happy.

I know God gives us permisdion to marry agsin but I have already found the man who I want to have all my memories with. I know I dont ever want another man but I want to help other homicide victims and help children in the foster care system.

They still havent made any arrest so until tben that will be my main fight is to get justice for my husband, my children, my grandchildren and me.

Rebecca Malone said...

Hi this is a long shot but I would love to chat with you about something! My husband passed away almost 5 years ago and I am looking to find a way to maybe include him in my ceremony for my me and my son. Any ideas?