6 vow writing tips to honour your relationship

I love great marriage vows! 

Amazing wedding vows capture each couple’s uniqueness; honouring each individual, and the relationship all while capturing the humour that every relationship has.

I call them kick-arse vows!

But I also love vows that mean something!  So, I did some research into what behaviours and emotions make for successful marriages and thought it might be fun to come up with some wedding vows based on these insights.  Obviously I have a lot of couples ask me how to write wedding vows, so here we go:

  1. Gratitude: Let your partner know that you’re grateful to have them in your life.

Saying something about how grateful you are makes your partner feel appreciated, which in turn makes them happy, and bonus, they’ll become more grateful that you’re in their life – so it’ll create a nice little loved up cycle.  When we’re expressing gratitude, we’re also expressing appreciation so we can’t ever take each other for granted.  An example wedding vow might go like this:

“I’m so grateful to have you in my life, and I promise I’ll show you every day just how lucky I feel that we’re doing life together.”

Gratitude
Mention that you’ll always be grateful for having your partner in your life
  1. Commitment: Add in a line that says you’re committed to that person and the marriage.

We all know there’ll be times that aren’t all glowy and gorgeous.  Sometimes life throws some curve balls at us, and when we have a committed outlook, it means we’ll be there for the good, the bad and the ugly times.  If you both have this outlook, you’ll work on seeing each other as part of a united team, committed to each other’s well-being.  This actually creates an ‘us against the issue’ mentality, rather than a ‘you against me’ mentality.  A sample of this commitment in your wedding vows could be:

“I promise to stand by your side, shoulder to shoulder through all that life may throw at us, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Together, we make an amazing team.”

Commitment
Promise that you stay committed to each other through the good times and the bad
  1. Future Planning: Write something about the growth of you both as individuals, and your relationship.

Marriage is mostly about the future planning and promising to keep the love and excitement alive by date nights, travelling and enjoying new experiences will mean that the relationship won’t fall into a rut.  When couples engage in interesting things together, research shows they’re happier!   Expressing this in your marriage vows is as simple as this:

“I promise to keep our love and passion alive and will continue to surprise and challenge you in all our adventures together.”

Future Planning
Promise to keep the relationship alive
  1. Support: Tell your partner that you’re their safe haven through the good and bad times.

This is all about being the other person’s ‘person’ and revolves around being a positive attachment figure for each other; someone we can always rely on for support when we’re upset and when we’re happy.  Whatever you do, you know your partner will have your back, even during those times you do make mistakes.   Writing wedding vows about your support might look like this:

“In marrying you today, I’m committing that whatever challenges you face, I’ll be your soft place to fall.  I’ve got your back!”

Support
I will always be your safe place to fall
  1. Autonomy: Individuality within any relationship is also super important

When we’re guilted or pressured into making decisions our autonomy is lost, and research shows that we don’t like that! When we don’t really have a choice, we’re less fulfilled and less happy.  So yes, you’re a fabulous couple, but respecting each other’s individuality will give us more joy in our marriage.

“I promise to honour your decisions and choices, loving and respecting you as an individual, as I know you will for me.”

Individuality
I love who you are
  1. Positivity: Let your partner know that you see them in a positive light, now and in the future.

No-one’s perfect, but if you focus of the other person’s flaws, chances are things might not go to well for the longevity of your relationship – tell your partner you’ll respect and appreciate them; having this positive attitude will lead to greater relationship satisfaction.  Letting your partner know that they have your support as they grow and try to improve themselves is beneficial to your marriage.

 “I promise to always respect and admire you, loving and adoring the man you are today, and the man you’ll become in the future.”

Positivity
Focus on your partner’s good points

 

Lynette Maguire is a popular marriage celebrant based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.  Lynette is also founder of national charity My Wedding Wish, gifting weddings to couples where one or both has a terminal or life limiting illness.

 

The four predictors of marriage success or failure

The four predictors of marriage success or failure

In my last blog The major negative behaviour that predicts the end of your marriage’  I spoke about the fascinating research by Dr John Gottman who claims he can predict the success or failure of a marriage with over 90% accuracy.  The negative behaviours which are deemed to be predictors to marriage success or failure are stonewalling, defensiveness, contempt and criticism.

My last blog touched on Contempt (the biggest badie), but what about the three others?  Let unpack them here:

Stonewalling

Gottman studied the behaviours which can predict marriage success or failure

Stonewalling is when one party dismisses the other party.  I know this firsthand because my first husband was a Grade A stonewaller and it drove me nuts.  When I’d approach him about something I wanted to talk about, I’d invariably be met with “Don’t start on me now,”  if he sensed the subject might be controversial, have something to do with feelings or discussing problems, or hold him in a not so great light.  Eventually, he needn’t have worried because I just stopped talking at all.

Men stonewall more than women, withdrawing from the interaction, closing into themselves and shutting down.  They build an emotional wall between themselves and their partner and that’s not healthy.

However, when women stonewall, it’s a big predictor of divorce.

Defensiveness

Defensiveness
Being defensive might be damaging your relationship

Gottman defines defensiveness as, “self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack.”

Thanks to Only You Forever (https://www.onlyyouforever.com/defensiveness-in-marriage/ Here are some sure-fire ways to put your spouse into a defensive mindset:

    1. Use words or tone of voice that evaluates or judges the listener (“I see you are on your phone…again”)
    2. Attempt to control or coerce the listener (“If you don’t put that down I am going to freak on you.”)
    3. Strategic or manipulative communication (targeting, needling or guilting over it)
    4. Neutral speech that conveys a lack of concern (#hairflip you’re on your phone again)
    5. Implications of superiority
    6. Dogmatism or certainty in your own opinion
    7. Any behavior that your spouse deems threatening or punishing
    8. Loud or rapid speech
    9. Frequent interruptions or corrections

Criticism

Nobody likes criticism

Criticism which is meant to make your partner feels rejected, hurt or small is toxic to a loved-up relationship.  Criticism is not to be confused with constructive criticism which doesn’t attack someone’s character but rather focuses on specific behaviours.

Constant criticism is a major predictor of divorce because it’s difficult to be around someone who is always pointing out your flaws and shortcomings.  Over time, unconstructive criticism such as critiquing, disapproval, nitpicking and blaming erodes away any healthy areas of any relationship.

Dr Jessica Higgins offers ‘10 signs that you might be too critical in a relationship’:

  1. You are very critical of yourself when you make a mistake (i.e. what do you automatically tell yourself when you make a mistake?). If you are highly critical with yourself, then you are probably highly critical of others.
  2. Your parents were highly critical and/or had high expectations.
  3. You tend to be a perfectionist.
  4. You tend to offer editorial commentary on others appearance, home, and choices.
  5. Your loved ones tell you that you are critical.
  6. You are easily offended and insulted.
  7. It is easier to find fault than praise. You will find the flaw rather than the positive.
  8. Even if your partner does 90% of a task, you focus on the 10% that is incomplete. You get preoccupied with how your partner didn’t complete the task to your liking, and you forget to focus on the value of your partner’s effort and help.
  9. You micromanage. You have a hard time letting go. If your partner didn’t complete a task in your preferred way, you will go afterward and fix it to your liking.
  10. You tend to view others’ mannerisms and behavior as negative. As Steven Stosny jokes in his article about criticism, people will say  “I give feedback; you’re critical. I’m firm; you’re stubborn. I’m flexible; you’re wishy-washy. I’m in touch with my feelings; you’re hysterical!”

If you recognise you or your partner in any of these four negative behaviours, you might want to think about working on it either by yourselves, (hey, recognising behaviour is the first step, right!) or head to a marriage counsellor.  I know heaps, so shoot me an email and I’ll recommend someone fabulous.  Sometimes it helps to have a third person who’s objective to point out behaviours which we’re not aware of and if we open ourselves to help, we might just save our marriage = worth it!

Together and in love! Just the way we like it

Dr Lynette Maguire is a popular Marriage Celebrant on the Sunshine Coast, who is fascinated with people and behaviours which prompted her attaining her first degree majoring in Psychology.

Wedding Celebrant Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast Marriage Celebrant, Lynette Maguire

The one negative behaviour that predicts the end of your happy marriage

Marriage takes work

There’s an art to creating and maintaining a happy marriage. Did you know that there’s been research conducted about the four behaviours which will determine the success or failure of a marriage (or, I’d hazard to guess, any relationship).

Just four behaviours! Any idea what they might be? What behaviour does your partner exhibit that triggers you? Or, perhaps look back at a past relationship; what behaviours brought down that relationship – not necessarily from your partner (they aren’t always the bad guys); what about your own behaviours?

 

Be aware of words and behaviours
Do you or your partner display any of these negative behaviours?

Dr John Gottman who researches marital stability and divorce prediction, claims he can pick those relationships which will end up in divorce with a 90% accuracy!

Wow! Why don’t we know about this?

As a marriage celebrant of 15 years, I’ve met literally thousands of couples, most of whom I’ve had good feelings about, but some of whom have triggered a gut-wrenching uneasiness. Funnily though, whether I knock the booking back or accept it, I can look back and find I was intuitively picking up the signs of marriage failure or success even before I learned about these four behaviours.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the suspense!

Has contempt crept into your relationship?
There are four negative behaviours which can impact the success or failure of our relationships

Four negative behaviours we need to watch out for

After watching hundreds of couples argue, Gottman found that the four predictors of failure in a marriage are contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling.

The nastiest of these negative communication patterns in a marriage? Contempt.

So, what does contempt look like? It’s mocking and treating your partner with disrespect. Eyerolling, hostile humour, name-calling, sneering … I’m sure you get the picture. These not so nice behaviours leave us feeling unloved and pained.

Don’t despair!

If you recognise your relationship here, don’t despair! There’s still hope. Dr Gottman’s ability to predict divorce is contingent upon these negative behaviours not ever changing, so there’s time to change this around by working together on your “we-ness” – your connectedness.

Remember back to when you first met! You adored each other, right?  Work on getting that back.

Look at each other with rose-coloured glasses – be each other’s biggest fan and in doing so you’ll be creating a culture of appreciation and respect. If contempt has crept into your relationship, it’s a tell-tale sign that the culture of your relationship is no longer positive and nurturing.  In fact, your relationship might be on pretty unstable grounds.

If there's contempt in your relationship, you need to work fast!
Work on creating a more positive marriage culture

So, rather than looking for things to pick on, look for the positives: Catch your partner doing something good. Tell them you appreciate them. Thank them. Hug more. Touch more. Laugh more. Approach your relationship as bipartisan rather than oppositional.

In making a concerted effort to create a more positive marriage culture, you’ll both be happier and your relationship will blossom again.

Find out more

I’ll post about the other three behaviours soon.  Follow me to find out more!

Wedding Celebrant Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast Marriage Celebrant,  Dr Lynette Maguire

About Dr Lynette Maguire:
Dr Lynette Maguire is a popular Marriage Celebrant on the Sunshine Coast, who is fascinated with people and behaviours prompting her to attain her first University degree majoring in Psychology (2010). Lynette has been a marriage celebrant for 15 years and is known for her genuine, high energy and fun, modern ceremonies.

How not to have a crumby day when the cake gets dropped

You can spend months and even years planning the most important day of your lives.  The fine details, the broad details, and all the details in between.  The thing is though – sometimes shit just happens!  But it’s how you deal with it that will make the difference between a brilliant day and one you’re remembering for all the wrong reasons.

I’ll give you an example.  Beautiful couple Jess and Chris have been together for 8 years: they’re happy, vivacious and a pleasure to be around.  I really loved being their celebrant – they were like my perfect couple.  I remember telling them that because they have such a great attitude about their wedding (something like: whatever goes wrong on the day won’t diminish the eye on the prize mentality, that is, they’ll be married!).

As the lead up to the wedding went smoothly, their big day arrived.  The styling was set up and looked pretty when I arrived.  The musician arrived.  Guests started arriving.

Unbeknownst to any of us the cake lady was on the phone to Jess saying she’d just dropped the cake and it was ruined.

There would be no cake, and therefore no dessert.  Eeek!

Don't let a little thing like a dropped cake ruin your day
Don’t let a little thing like a dropped cake ruin your day

 

Jess’ mum jumped into action and arranged for a large white mud cake and a small white mud cake to be collected from The Cheesecake Shop, and these were delivered just prior to Jess’ walk down the aisle.  At least there would dessert, but as yummy as they are, they looked nothing like a wedding cake.

The ceremony was amazing – full of laughs and tears and joy!  My favourites!

I snuck in to the reception when I heard about the cake disaster and saw The Cheesecake Shop mudcake creation turned into a mini-masterpiece by the staff who used leftover florals to make a beautiful wedding cake.

Well played Surfair, Marcoola – well played.

The Cheesecake Shop masterpiece created by quick thinking calm minds and the staff of Surfair, Marcoola
The Cheesecake Shop masterpiece created by quick thinking calm minds and the staff of Surfair, Marcoola

 

The smashed cake was delivered the next day (with no delivery charge) and everyone enjoyed some morning tea – laughing all the way.

And that’s how you deal with stuff that goes wrong – as it often does.

All smiles despite the cake disaster = eye on the prize! (each other) <3
All smiles despite the cake disaster = eye on the prize! (each other) <3

When you marry a man – twice

When you marry the same person twice …

A favourite tale from 2016.  I received an email enquiry from a bride in early 2016 about her wedding, so I sent her some information.  A few weeks later, she emailed me saying:

Hi Lynette,

Thanks for sending all that information through, I’d really like to book you for our wedding.  But I think we might have problem.  You see, my partner has been married before – and you married him.  I was at the wedding and it was the best wedding I’d ever been to.  Are you okay with this?

Owl you need is love!
Owl you need is love!

Haha!  Well, yes of course I was.  I remembered the groom (no names here 😃) and his first wife quite well – it had been a fabulous wedding!

I told the bride it didn’t bother me, if it didn’t both her or her fiancé.  They were both excited and they booked me, so the planning went ahead.

I figured I’d already know half the guests at the wedding!

Their wedding was just a wonderful as his first one – complete with bride dog and Cheezels for rings.

i love you in dinosaur

Really, can it get any better than that?