Carolyn Egan is a JP from South Windsor CT
Spring is just around the corner, right? Isn’t the season of renewal a great time to renew your marriage vows? With the help of a Justice of the Peace, you can design a special ceremony – as elaborate or intimate as you choose – to celebrate the life and love you’ve created together.
Why renew? Many experts believe that the decision to renew your vows should arise from a feeling of shared joy and fulfillment, not from a need to fix a marriage that may be broken. However, if you have weathered a difficult time in your marriage and emerged stronger, then an affirmation of your vows can be a way to symbolically reset your marriage on a more sustaining and positive course.
When renew? Often couples choose to renew their vows on an important anniversary or other date that has special meaning for them, but the main point is that there are no rules. Some couples even renew every year, in order to stay focused on their commitment to one another.
What vows? After 10, 15, or 25 years of marriage, “love, honor and respect” probably means something different than it did when you first made this pledge all those years ago. The words mean more because you have lived each verb. “Love” has expanded beyond romance to the raising of children perhaps, and the struggles and joys of life. “Honor” has been tested against all the mistakes of human nature, while “respect” has deepened with your maturity.
So the vows you speak to affirm your commitment can be personal, written as love letters to one another. If you decide on this approach, consider weaving gratitude for the years behind you with new promises for the years ahead. Include specific memories that demonstrate what you respect about him and what has helped sustain your bond: How, for example, when the children were all sick with the flu, he stayed up with them all night to let you sleep. Include promises that connect to her current dreams, how you will support her as she works on her master’s degree, for example, by preparing dinner every night. By connecting your vows to the present time and situation, you can inject a powerful expression of love.
Or the nostalgia of vow-renewal may inspire you to repeat, with deeper feeling and more understanding, the identical vows you spoke to one another the first time. Whatever approach you take, don’t forget that this is your ceremony and it should reflect your sensibilities and vision. Anything is acceptable, so long as it is spoken from the heart.
Who officiates? While you do not need a licensed officiant for a vow renewal ceremony because you are already legally married, many couples still choose to have one. A Justice of the Peace presiding over your exchange of vows lends a tone of earnestness and resolve to the ceremony. Standing before family and friends, you are making sacred promises to your beloved. The presence of a JP underscores the solemnity of these oaths. In addition, many JPs have experience officiating vow renewal ceremonies and can lend their expertise to you as you design yours.
Get started. Perhaps now is the time to renew your wedding vows. Perhaps now is the time to reflect on the journey you have traveled together since you first pledged “I do,” and what new vistas lay before you. Besides, you know you want to get back into a wedding gown and hold a gorgeous bouquet of flowers once again. You know you want to look at him in a tuxedo, crisp and shiny with his laugh lines and receding hair, as darling or more to you now than ever. Isn’t it time to contact a Justice of the Peace and plan a ceremony that will rejoice in the many blooms, blossoms and new beginnings planted and nurtured by your marriage? Isn’t that worth celebrating?