Earlier this week musician Seal and his supermodel wife, Heidi Klum announced that they were separating. Among the many things that the couple are noted for, one of them was their practice to renew their wedding vows on their anniversary. Each year they would choose a different location and, with their children in tow, recommit themselves to each other. They were so noted for this practice that other celebrities followed suit, giving credit to Seal and Heidi for the idea.
While I don’t know the reasons for the couple’s decision, I was struck by the fact that two people who annually commit to share their lives together would decide to separate. For a lot of couples it seems that their decision to end their marriage (or at least to live separately from their spouse) is a result of a slow deterioration in the relationship. One would be tempted to think that an annual vow renewal would prevent such an erosion. Then I realized that it was a foolish thought. An annual vow renewal is not nearly frequent enough. Instead, it needs to happen each and every day.
Now before you think I am suggesting an elaborate ceremony each day, I’m not. What I am suggesting however, is that just like we must daily die to our selves to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, we must daily remind ourselves of the commitment that we made to our spouse. Daily we must choose to sacrifice “me” for the sake of “us.” Daily would must commit ourselves to demonstrating love, even, maybe especially, when the other person isn’t lovely. Daily we must say “for better or worse; ’til death do us part.”
On your wedding day it’s easy to see only the best in the person that you are marrying. They are (usually) dressed in their snazziest clothes and you are reminded of all the reasons that you agreed to pledge your life to this person. Later on, in the grit and grime of daily life, that image can fade. Yet it’s in the most moments that your vows become most important. It’s in those moments that your promises hold weight.
An annual vow renewal is a nice idea – and I suppose it’s a memorable way to celebrate your anniversary. However, more marriages would be better served by a daily vow renewal – not one of ceremonial proportions but a daily commitment to live out the promises that were made on their wedding day. And if we fail at keeping them perfectly one day, to quickly forgive ourselves and our spouse, and vow to keep them when the sun rises next. Til death parts us.