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It was my wedding day. I stood at the door to the wedding chapel, dressed in satin and tulle; the same chapel where my parents and grandparents had been married. Ahead of me lay a new life, a new family, and a new name. The weight of the moment, naturally lent itself to introspection, and a peek back at those who had come before me.

Growing up, I heard stories from family members about how they felt on their wedding day. Most were unsettled about the step before them. You could say this was a case of hindsight, considering the stories were told to me after separation and divorce. The fears they’d experienced, the doubt they toyed with and the end result weighed heavily on my mind that bright February morning.

I was determined to break the cycle. The generational curse that I saw upon my family, a curse upon relationships, was going to end with me. That’s a lot of pressure to put upon oneself, but I felt like the alternative was worse. I knew divorce, I knew brokenness, I knew disappointment. Standing there, at the doors to the chapel, I made my own vows:

I will not disrespect my husband to his face, or behind his back. My words to him need to be honoring and life-giving. There would be no place for sarcasm and bitterness in our marriage.

Here is the secret to marriage that every couple seeks, and yet few couples ever find…unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her.” (Dr. Emerson, Love and Respect for a Lifetime)

I will not run when the going gets tough. My tendency to shut down, detach and give up would only hurt me in the long run. We would talk through every disagreement, walk through every trial and do the work until the situation was defused.

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26b-27)

I will not lie to, manipulate or deceive my husband. Trust is a hard thing for me to give, and I didn’t want to ever take advantage of his.

A little lie is like a little pregnancy: it doesn’t take long before everyone knows. (C.S. Lewis)

I will not allow my marriage or our future children to be a source of resentment. I will not think of my marriage or my children as a hindrance to the things that might have been.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. (Psalm 127:3)

I may have stood at the same door my family did as I began my marriage, but looking back to that day ten years later I see that the path God led me is very different. The vows I made were not always easy to uphold, but His strength helped me to persevere. Their hindsight gave me a 20/20 vision for my future.

Melissa Brotherton lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Josh, and their four children: Elijah, Cora, Ezra, and Silas. In 2011, after returning from five years living in Southern California, Melissa stepped in to the position of children’s pastor and community life pastor at their new church. Although she currently finds herself in a place she never thought she’d be, God reminds her to continue to abide in Him. To wait, to rest, to trust. She writes about this and more on her personal blog, melissabrotherton.com. You can also find her on Twitter @melissa_rae

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Vows

by Melissa Brotherton time to read: 2 min