Marriage Vows in Reverse

The marriage vow. Such a poetic, ominous, sentence.

“I take you to be mine, to have and to hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish from this day forward, ’til death do us part.”

It’s been 33 years since two scared-to-death, ignorant kids uttered those words.

Truth is, we had no idea what we were talking about.

It’s best we didn’t know what our future held, because life is meant to be lived in bite-size pieces, one day at a time.

But 33 years?

That’s 396 months; 1,716 weeks; 12,045 days. Seriously?

How are we still standing?

It’s surely not because we deserved it, nor were we better trained or more qualified. In fact, we made it much harder than it should have been.

Looking back with a little hindsight, this is what I should have said on that August night back in 1984.


I take you to be mine –

Well, scratch that. There is no more mine or yours. It’s ours. Your dreams are my dreams. Your future is my future.

Today, I accept all of you, and give up all of me, so we can become us.


To have and to hold –

This is straight from Genesis 2:24 – “Therefore, a man will leave his father and mother, and cling to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Clinging is what it’s going to take.

So, I will cling to you instead of my fears. I will cling to you when I feel like running. I will cling to you, even when we’re angry.

I will cling to you when you hurt, especially if I’m the one who hurt you.

When faced with any decision, I will cling to us.

Because in the end, that’s all we’ll have left, and I can’t believe I’m the one who gets to keep you.


For better or worse –

Make that better AND worse, because it will happen simultaneously.

Look around.  Many of those standing beside us on this night will no longer be here in thirty years.

Better and worse will take us to hospital beds and funeral homes, weddings and graduations, vacations and family reunions.

All of them, pinnacles of our story. Holy moments, because that’s how God makes us one. Gradually, over time, sharing experiences much bigger than we are.

And then we get to wake up and do it all again.


For richer or poorer –

It will take years of sleepless nights to figure this out, but there is one important word we should learn.


God will provide exactly enough; exactly when we need it.

Rest in that.

(No arguments necessary.)


In sickness and in health –

I will lay beside you while you recover from surgery. Minor ones and major ones. Dozens of them.

I will spend countless nights in the ICU learning to take care of you, so I can bring you home.

I will trust that God is never surprised by a diagnosis. He can handle it.

Even if a little bit of cancer shows up as a blip on our radar screen, which just gives Him another way to prove He can handle it.

And He will.


To love and to cherish –

Love. I’ll never fathom it’s true depth and width.

Through the birth of our three children.

Through watching you be their Daddy.

You, walking our daughter down the aisle.

Our son, marrying his true love.

Our baby girl, using her gifts to minister to Alzheimer’s patients.

Falling in love with our grandchildren.

Kneeling together at your father’s grave.

Love. It multiplies.

And I’d be a fool not to cherish it.


From this day forward –

From now on, we are us, and that guides our choices. All of them.


‘Til death do us part –

We don’t know how this story will end.

But we know the One who continues to write it.

And I can’t wait for the next chapter….

Janet Morris Grimes

Janet is the author of the book, The Parent's Guide to Uncluttering Your Home, released in 2011 through Atlantic Publishing. A wife and mother of three, Janet currently writes from Vine Grove, Kentucky on such topics as faith, family, and forever. She writes for Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine among other publications, and is an aspiring novelist. For additional information on Janet, visit her website at

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