For my first blog post, I’m going to do something I usually don’t – share a story from my own life. Typically, I don’t share much that is personal with clients. Sessions are your time. But this feels different. This seems like a part of my story that could be helpful.
When we got married, my husband and I wrote our own vows. We each included a few individual, lighthearted words at the beginning, but the majority of our vows were written together, repeated by each of us. These were created from the lessons we learned together over time and from insights I gained as a couples therapist about what it truly takes to foster and sustain long-lasting intimacy and connection. In a way, the couples I’ve worked with co-wrote our vows by allowing me access to their most vulnerable truths, to their deepest pains. This access is a privilege and I am so grateful.
Following the ceremony, requests to share the vows in written form made it apparent that our words had resonated with many of our family and friends, which led me to believe that they might resonate with others as well. Here they are:
I promise to love you and be your partner for the rest of our lives.
I promise to make believing and supporting you my default.
I promise to work towards empathy, always.
I promise to look upon our differences with respect and not disdain. And with that in mind, I promise to work to understand and act upon your unique needs without assuming they are the same as my own.
I promise to take feedback with grace and work to make adjustments that will help us as a team.
I promise to try to be what you need in any moment; your champion when you need a leg up, your friend when you need someone to listen, your partner when you’re ready for adventure, and your sidekick when it’s your time to shine.
And, most importantly,
I promise to be your dive buddy no matter how choppy the seas
All right, that last one is unique to us (and maybe a little cheesy) – we are avid scuba divers. But the rest are my beliefs about what long term emotional intimacy really takes. People often say that romantic relationships “take work,” and they are absolutely right. Treating couples in distress and then watching them grow has helped me focus in on what the nature of that ‘work’ really is– and that is reflected in these vows. What is also reflected is that the commitment couples need from each other is not one of perfection, but one of effort. Notice that we did not say “I promise to be what you need…” Instead, we vowed “to try to be what you need…” Partners don’t need perfection from each other (as if that were even possible). We simply need each other’s aware presence and continued effort. If there is anything I know to be true about relationships, it is that.
Take care of yourselves and each other,