When we stand at the altar to make our vows, we never imagine having to make that vow more than once, but it may happen to you! Lean in as we explore the second vow!
”Then the doors opened in the back, wearing all white; This the first day of the rest of our life; Her father by her side while she came down the aisle.” Andy Mineo
He proposed. You accepted, and the day finally arrives. The world, or at least your world, will witness two becoming one.
The ceremony is flawless. By flawless, I mean you didn't forget your vows. The rings were not lost, the officiant pronounced your names correctly, and no one objected to your union. At least publicly, no one objected to your marriage.
On that day, you confessed your love and undying commitment to each other through thick and thin, life and death! The pictures are flawless, and our memories are captured. What can be more perfect? What can go wrong?
The Marriage - All of Me
"My head's underwater, but I'm breathing fine; You're crazy, and I'm out of my mind." John Legend
Your first year was a little uncomfortable as you adjusted to living together full time and compromising in areas you never imagined. Compromises like who gets which side of the bed and do we sleep with the fan off or on?
Your first anniversary comes and goes. Then year two and three. The first kid arrives, and life changes even more. You are thankful for your new bundle of joy, but the pressure in your marriage is a little different now.
The kid grows, and you welcome another child, but this time you are more prepared. Things seem to be leveling out. Careers are growing, and finances are sound. You just purchased a new home. You are giving it your all. Life is good! What can go wrong?
Love, Happiness, and An Uninvited Guest
“Something's going wrong; Someone's on the phone; Three o'clock in the morning; Talking about how she can make it right (well).” Al Green
You never saw them coming. A chat, a few text messages, innocent working lunches, and coffee meetings.
He is attractive. She understands you in ways your wife does not, and she even laughs at your jokes. He listens to you better than your husband. She feeds you respect and appreciation. He makes you feel safe and secure like you have known him for your entire life. What can go wrong?
Harmless suggestions and innocent touches. What can go wrong?
"It's morning, and we slept the night away; It happened; now we can't turn back the hands of time. Yes, we've stolen this moment; We forgot to face one simple fact." Shirley Murdock
You never intended to end up in a full-blown affair, but yet here you are.
How did you get here? It’s kind of complex, but I will keep it simple.
You had a perceived or actual void within you, you wanted it filled, and your spouse didn't seem to understand their requirement to fill it.
You accidentally or on purpose found what you thought would fill the void and ignored the warning signs.
You played with fire and didn’t realize you were being burned until it was too late.
You awakened to the trap of an affair and had no idea how to escape, so you stayed a while.
Everything’s Out in the Open
"Everything's out in the open, yeah; there is nothing left to hide; All the vows have been broken, But I feel the same way inside." Johnnie Taylor
You yell, and he cusses. The kids are afraid. Fingers are being pointed, and there is plenty of blame to spare.
Questions are plenty. Who, what, when, how, and where? Is it over between the two of you? Is it over between the two of us?
I hate you. I love you. Somebodies got to die. I want to die. I’m leaving. I’m staying.
Your emotions are ranging and raging. You are not sure if you will ever breathe again, and it doesn't really matter. It's time to make a decision.
The Second Vow
"Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second one together?" Esther Perel
They say they are willing to heal the marriage, and it is time for your decision.
Will you leave or stay? After some prayer and consultation, you decide to stay. So you make your second vow!
The second vow is much different than the first one you made. On your wedding day, you made a vow to love through thick and thin, for better or worse. However, you never envisioned this as part of the worst. You hoped and believed that the other person was committed to you. Your marriage would be different than marriages you have seen in person and on TV.
You were surprised that infidelity hit your marriage.
For those who have not faced the pain of infidelity, consider yourself very blessed. Be thankful that you have never had your heart ripped out of your chest. Be grateful that you have never been in a place where you experienced the grief of death without anyone actually dying.
Be thankful that you were not the person who ruined a marriage and jeopardized the wellbeing of yourself, as well as your family.
The aftermath of an affair can be expressed in words. Still, those words will never convey the emotional devastation left in the wake.
What can go wrong has gone wrong! Yet, in the wake of infidelity, you may choose to make a second vow.
The difference of the second vow is that now you understand much more about the sacrificial requirements of marriage, and you are choosing to make a great sacrifice with complete understanding.
The second vow is different because you are already on the alter bleeding, and you want your blood to matter. You want it to mean something.
The first time you made your vow, it was a bloodless vow. You never imagined having to bleed for the sake of your marriage, but now you know better. The second vow is made with eyes wide open!
In your second vow, you no longer depend on the other frail human to keep their vow. It is no longer about them but something more significant than the both of you.
Your second vow is made in your heart instead of a room full of family, friends, and strangers for the sake of memories.
Your second vow is directed to a purpose. Your second vow is about legacy, more than goals. Your second vow is about reality instead of fantasy.
Keeping Your Second Vow
Making and keeping the second vow should not be made lightly, but if you choose to make it, let me offer some advice for keeping it.
Take your time! You do not owe anyone. Take all the time you need to heal internally to fully commit to your second vow. Sometimes people, including the offending spouse, want you to rush through the healing process so things can return to normal. News Flash: That won’t happen!
Avoid returning to normal! If things return to normal, you're doing it wrong. If things return to normal, you are stuck in the past, and that is not where you want to be. Why? Because that is the exact environment that fostered and nurtured the affair.
Do not take on more than your share of the process! You are only part of the equation. The other person must fully own their part of the process. Hint: You can’t do it for them!
Own your part! You did not cause the affair! You did not cause the affair! YOU DID NOT CAUSE THE AFFAIR! But, you may have provided food that fed the excuse they eventually used as their justification. Example: You may have taken them for granted. They used that as part of their excuse. Ok, own the fact that you may have taken them for granted. But do not own that they used it as their excuse to cheat instead of talking to you about it in a constructive, adult manner.
Have a plan and be realistic! You and your marriage have just experienced tremendous emotional trauma. It may take years to eradicate the damage caused, and you may be triggered by unexpected events or moments. That is ok, but have an agreed-upon plan to deal with those moments. You may develop a safe word to let your spouse know that you need to talk. This blade cuts both ways as both individuals will have times where they need to talk.
If you have questions or need help healing, feel free to contact Marriage Refresh at firstname.lastname@example.org.