#WeddingVows based on “Letters to a Young Poet,” by Rainer Maria Rilke

I wrote these unconditional-love Wedding Vows for a couple who enjoy a good quarrel at least once a week to clear the air. By the way, unconditional love is non-judgement. I borrowed these wedding vows from one of my favorite passages on marriage, “Letters to a Young Poet,” by Rainer Maria Rilke — who gets it exactly right.

 

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development.

But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

That is why this, too, must be the criterion for rejection or choice: whether you are willing to stand guard over someone else’s solitude, and whether you are able to set this same person at the gate of your own depths, which he learns of only through what steps forth, in holiday clothing, out of the great darkness.

To take love seriously and to undergo it and learn it like a profession — that is what young people need to do. Like so many other things, people have also misunderstood the position love has in life; they have made it into play and pleasure because they thought that play and pleasure are more blissful than work; but there is nothing happier than work, and love, precisely because it is the supreme happiness, can be nothing other than work.

So those who love must try to act as if they had a great work to accomplish: they must be much alone and go into themselves and gather and concentrate themselves; they must work; they must become something.

For the more we are, the richer everything we experience is. And those who want to have a deep love in their lives must collect and save for it, and gather honey.

 

Celebrant (to Groom):

Do you promise to strive to love <Name> unconditionally, without judgement?
Will you give her the best of yourself and work in partnership to realize your shared dreams?
Do you promise to respect her individuality, prize her freedom, and guard her solitude?
Will you communicate openly and argue fairly so as to foster better understanding?
Do you promise to support and comfort her while remaining true to yourself?
Will you do the stuff that neither of you wants to do if she really doesn’t want to do it more than you don’t want to?
Do you promise to regularly show her that you know how lucky you are to have her in your life?
Do you pledge your love to <Name> as her devoted friend, faithful husband, and equal partner…for all the days of your life together?

Groom: I do.

Celebrant (to Bride):

Do you promise to strive to love <Name> unconditionally, without judgement?
Will you give him the best of yourself and work in partnership to realize your shared dreams?
Do you promise to respect his individuality, prize his freedom, and guard his solitude?
Will you communicate openly and argue fairly so as to foster better understanding?
Do you promise to support and comfort him while remaining true to yourself?
Will you do the stuff that neither of you wants to do if he really doesn’t want to do it more than you don’t want to?
Do you promise to regularly show him that you know how lucky you are to have him in your life?
Do you pledge your love to <Name> as his devoted friend, faithful wife, and equal partner…for all the days of your life together?

Bride: I do.

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