Keep Your Promises!
Promises form the basis for our entire society. They are reflected in everything we do. Our contracts, our laws, even every purchase we make, right on down to the smallest pledge -- I’ll be home for dinner at seven, honey!
Some people say promises are made to be broken. When they are, however, we know what happens every time. Feelings get hurt, hearts get broken, people get sued. Nothing good ever comes from a broken promise unless it’s a healed one. And no broken promise hurts greater or harms more than the broken ones made to our partners. Because our wedding vows are more than just promises – they’re the most solemn pledges of all. The foundation upon which we form our families and bring children into the world. And when they’re born, the vow extends to them.
In recent years, the fear of making those vows has led to the greatest fall-off in marriage in our nation’s history. Indeed, never has the marriage rate dipped so low. Nearly fifty percent of those who do take the plunge, retreat to divorce court. Another 2/3 to ¾ become repeat offenders in marriages two and three. These vow-breaking married with children couples often rationalize severing their commitments, by claiming it will lead to a happier “me” and hence a happier “them,” i.e. their children. Research proves, however, that’s not the case. Marriage remains the gold standard when it comes to children surviving and thriving in today’s world.
That’s why Kids Against Divorce believes that a new era must begin to bridge the commitment of yesteryear with the tools of today to combat the epidemic of divorce and unmarried partnering once and for all. In that era, children must have a voice in their parents’ marriages. While it’s seemingly easy these days for spouses to break the vows they make to each other, it’s not so easy looking into your child’s eyes and breaking the vows you make to them. In fact, if you’ve ever made a pinky swear with your own children, and what parent hasn’t, you know it’s as solemn a promise as any other. As stated in Divorce Lessons For Our Children: “unilateral no-fault divorce teaches children that the most important pinky swears of all is meaningless.”
It’s time our words meant something. Time for parents to recognize that the vows they make to each other extend to their children. Time for parents to commit to a marriage-long reaffirmation of those vows, and listen to these words from their children:
I don’t want to be a child of divorce. I don’t want to share my holidays or my birthdays or family game nights. I don’t want to go to bed without a hug from both my mom and my dad either. Please don’t take these things away from me by running away from your problems. Divorce won’t make you happier, and splitting myself between two homes won’t make me better off. If you can’t keep your word, how can you ever expect me to keep mine?
So Keep Your Promises! Please do everything you can to maintain your vows, and get help if you need to. Renew your vows, publicly or privately, each and every day. Remember to forgive each other, too, just as you teach me that I must learn not to lie as well as how to forgive. Think about holding a birth vow ceremony to make the pinky swear you made to me official. Most of all, every time you look into my eyes, remember that when you promised to love and honor each other forever, then brought me into the world, you made that promise to me, too.
Please share your stories with us. Tell us how you overcame obstacles and strengthened your own marriage. Tell us how you avoided divorce, became a stronger family and listened to the voices of your children for encouragement. Share the story of your vow renewals and birth vow ceremonies, too.