Next up in the wedding vows mini-series is the second question of intent: Will you honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives? It is my honor to present to you Mandi Richards, and her reflections on this question of intent:
Do you honor your spouse? I assume that the verb “to honor” is not one you use in daily conversation. Perhaps you’ve never even used that phrase outside your wedding vows. You’re much more likely to say, “I love my husband,” or “I respect my wife”. One of the Ten Commandments tells us to “Honor your father and mother.” Clearly to honor is something special, something set apart and reserved for those sacred relationships that hold the most importance in our lives, our society, and our faith. So what does it mean to honor someone?
If you take a look in a dictionary, there are five definitions of the verb “to honor”:
1a: to regard or treat (someone) with admiration and respect : to regard or treat with honor
b: to give special recognition to : to confer honor on
2a: to live up to or fulfill the terms of <honor a commitment>
b: to accept as payment <honor a credit card>
3: to salute with a bow in square dancing
I think we can throw those last two out as not included in the wedding vows. The first two are probably what you think of: admiration, respect, special recognition. Absolutely. But you’ve heard all about those in regards to marriage, right?
So let’s talk about that third one: “to live up to or fulfill the terms of <honor a commitment>”. Marriage is many things but at the root of it all, it is a sacrament and a covenant. Even in secular society, where marriage is not seen as sacred, it is still a contract. To honor (respect) your spouse is also to honor (live up to) a commitment. And it’s a commitment that you make to more than just your significant other – it’s a commitment to God, to the Church, and to your community, all of whom benefit greatly by your marriage.
So what exactly do you commit to in your marriage covenant? Ah, well, it’s probably the most complex contract humans have ever entered into! Wedding vows may be compared to corporate merger contracts, but they pack a whole lot more punch. The marriage covenant boils down to one thing: you commit to love – not to be in lovewith but to love. And love takes a multitude of forms – one day it can be taking out the trash or sweeping the floor, another day it might be conceiving a child. It can be holding your tongue or holding your spouse in your arms. It is often the last thing you want to do and is always the most difficult thing you’ll ever do. When you vow to honor each other, you vow to honor this commitment to love every day of your life, in every action toward your spouse, and in doing so, you’re also honoring God.
“Commitment is doing what you said you would do, after the feeling you said it in has passed. ” – St. Camillus
Mandi is a Catholic wife of (almost) four years and the mother of a sweet and spicy two-year-old, Lucia. She loves the sound of a train whistle at night time, a cheap bottle of red wine, and jalapeños on her popcorn. She stays up way past her bedtime updating her blog, Messy Wife, Blessed Life.