Is Honor the Forgotten Part of Marriage?
I’ve always been a firm believer that words matter. If you’re going to say it, you’d better mean it.
So when you take a marriage vow – perhaps the single most solemn, important words you’ll ever speak for the rest of your life – it’s a pretty big deal. The words you speak on that day, it isn’t just a one-day wedding thing, it’s an everyday marriage thing.
Because words matter, I think about those words regularly, and most certainly on our wedding anniversary each year. There are plenty of wonderful variations of vows, but one of the most common contains these words you’ve probably heard many times before: “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
The love part – most of us have that down. Love is one of the most profound emotions there is, and we can love in a lot of ways. We can love people, food, movies, weather, pets, and even attention. We see and hear about love on a daily basis, we’re bombarded with it everywhere we look – songs, billboards, commercials. We may say it at the end of phone calls without even thinking about it. As such, I suspect most everyone knows, at least in some way, what it means to love someone or something.
But there’s another word in that vow that seems to get far less attention: honor. What exactly does honor mean? It means to hold in high respect, revere. It means to confer distinction upon, to show a courteous regard for and to worship
Wait a minute – I said I would do that on my wedding day? I’d revere my wife? I’d worship her? And not only that but every single day of my life?
And then it occurred to me that honor has gotten second billing over time. I don’t see any honoring in commercials, movies, billboards, or songs. I don’t see companies using it to sell products the way they do with love.
If I can remind my spouse of her value, it will help me realize how precious she is to me. Honor shouldn’t be bestowed depending on how I’m feeling in a given moment, or my mood. Honor should be granted like a gift, all the days of my life (there’s that vow again), whether my wife wants it or even deserves it. If I dished out honor whenever I felt like it, or when I thought she earned it, or when I was in the mood to do it, that would make for a pretty miserable relationship.
I know a married couple who bows toward each other. It’s not a cultural thing for them. It’s just a way to bestow a quiet respect for each other at the start and end of a day.
Here’s an exercise that might help keep honor more top-of-mind. Spend some time writing down all the reasons why your spouse is so precious and valuable to you. If you value and honor this person like a priceless treasure, it will be an easy task.
Once you do this, keep it in your wallet or purse, just like the photos of your loved ones. Every time you reach for money (another treasure, albeit a different one), it will be a reminder to scan that list and be reminded of the real treasure you get to keep forever.
There’s another thing you can do with that list, and that’s to share it with your spouse and your kids if they’re old enough. Let them know the value you place on that person as an individual. Doing so will strengthen your bond and make honor a new, important facet of your marriage.
I’m not perfect, and neither is my wife. But we promised we’d love and honor each other forever – every day – even with our faults and imperfections. I’m looking forward to bringing honor to the forefront of our marriage because I promised I would.