Chapter 16

The Promises of Marriage

From the first whispered tenderness to the moral and legal commitment of vows, marriage is full of promises. Our minds and hearts are full of pledges that often remain unspoken, in some cases buried so deep within ourselves that we scarcely realize they exist. Being clear about the kinds of promises we are making and our ability to keep them is the first step to a successful marriage.

Some hidden promises can cause the marriage to self-destruct unless we are courageous enough to give them a closer look. What if someone has the silent intention to heal the emotional hurts of their partner? What if someone intends to hold their pain within themselves to keep the marriage on an even keel? We need to let all our promises into the light of day to make sure this is what both parties really want.

There are also the promises we make out loud. I will love you no matter what the future holds. I will put your needs before my own. I will always be there for you. It is amazing that we believe we can do these things as we say them! Besides that problem, there is the issue of keeping promises like this. We may feel that it would be desirable to love someone no matter what, but can we realistically make that kind of promise?

The best promise we can make to one another is to try to accept the responsibilities involved in growing side by side. Unfortunately, that does not have a romantic ring to it!
But the shocking truth is that loving our partner begins with loving ourselves. We need to grow spiritually and emotionally. This empowers us to be a loving and supportive partner.

While longings for intimacy, passion and security are at the heart of romance, we need to be clear about how to make this happen. Only by being self-aware and courageous about dealing with our personal issues can we be a great marriage partner, seeing the good in our partner, being supportive, giving them space to grow.

We cannot promise to make life safe for another person and we cannot expect another to do that for us. We are each responsible for what we become. But we can commit to being the best person we can be, starting by loving and accepting ourselves. Then we can share this wonderful energy with our partner. This is how we love one another as we love ourselves.


Beginning in gentleness
far greater than I have known,
a lightness stirs and
moves to fill quiet spaces
between us

Disparities traversed with
tenderness and with child-hope
that lightens the step
and gives it joy, like a dancer
in flight

And the sweetness of care
grows back and forth in waves
that reach further and further
for long, longing moments
** within us.


Life’s longing for love and marriage leads me to a better self.  It energizes my being and makes it possible for me to meet the challenges of a shared life.

The promises of marriage begin with me.  I will nurture myself so that my energy is a gift to my partner.  I will cherish the growth of another as I do my own.

The love I have enriches my life because it is in loving that I grow to be the person of my dreams.


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