By Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
Your marriage license is the legal document that marks the day you said “I do.” Yet there are many other ways the written word can help you celebrate the emotional and spiritual bond of your union, as well map your responsibilities as marriage partners.
In Judaism the contract between husband and wife is called a Ketubah. Quakers have a spiritual document that the whole congregation signs to bless the union of two people who choose to unite as one. Whether you include a document from your religion or culture, or creatively fashion your own, it will be a blessing on your marriage--a blessing that begins when you and your beloved sit down and write your own personal love contract, marriage agreement, or outline of your intentions for married life.
Creating a personal love and marriage contract is a beautiful way to clarify what you both anticipate, and what you would like to experience and create in your marriage. It can include everything from being kind and thoughtful every day, to having children, to building a dream house and growing old together. This is not a prenuptial agreement or a legally binding document; rather, it is a spiritually binding document. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Create a Mission Statement for Your Marriage. Brainstorm, discuss, process, and bat around ideas until you come up with a marriage mission statement. This is your mutual intention for marriage; it is what you want to be and build together. It can be one sentence or reflect a number of ideas. For example:
Our union gives us strength, power, and fortitude to deal with all of life's ups and downs, and it empowers us to contribute to others and to the world. We are best friends, confidantes, and partners, and we have many close relationships with people we consider "spiritual family." We are a couple who inspire others with our live and who model what it is to be in a great relationship.
2. Craft a Wedding Scroll. Together, make a list of your intentions, aspirations, goals, hopes, and dreams for your wedded life. Write neatly or type it. It can be on pretty parchment-like paper, or any attractive paper. Consider having it written in calligraphy and framed, or simply roll it up and tie it with a gold ribbon. No one need see it but you two. Take it to your ceremony and keep it at the altar so it will be blessed by the expressions of love and commitment shared at your ceremony, and energized by the vows you exchange.
3. Write Letters to Each Other. Both of you can craft a beautiful letter to each other, stating what you love about each other and what your promises for married life are, and you can place them in a sacred spot in your home, or even include them in the ceremony. My husband, Rev. Vic Fuhrman, MSC, R.M., also an interfaith minister, uses this in ceremonies often and actually hands the letters to the bride and groom and says, 'I know you two are utterly in love right now, but take my word for it, there will come a time, be it seven months or seven years from now, when you will have a fight that will make you wonder why you tied the knot in the first place. That's when you will open these letters and remember the spirit of the commitment you made here today.'"
4. Make a Love Contact. Type up the wedding vows and declarations from your wedding ceremony and add as many more as you feel in your heart. On the bottom of the page write, “And this I promise to you.” Each of you can sign it. Then frame it and keep it next to your bed. Read over at them every day, with gratitude.
© 2011, Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
Adapted from Your Interfaith Wedding.