Insights from Wedding Favors Unlimited's Wedding and Marriage Advisor - Dr. Peter Pearson of The Couple's Institute. Having counseled more than 10,000 couples over 30 years, Dr. Pearson is a world-renown expert in helping couples resolve issues and create strong, loving relationships.
You spent hours…maybe even a lifetime thinking about what your wedding vows may be. Have you thought about how you will break them?
I love wedding vows because they reach for our highest self. And the irony is that if couples could keep even 90% of their vows, divorce lawyers would be out of business and the self-help industry would grind to a halt.
However, to live your vows means you have to be running at your best everyday. Which is impossible. You have a better chance at finding Pokemon or spotting a unicorn.
So I wanted to share three ways you will break our wedding vows with heavy influence from the lizard brain. If you didn’t catch our last article on what the lizard brain is, check it out here<link>. Otherwise, the easy way to describe the lizard brain is the 5yr old version of yourself that acts on feelings and instincts, completely unregulated by personal and social norms. (very good description)
Reason #1: Your Wedding Vows are Impossible to keep.
No matter how well intentioned you are, some of your vows are written for today…and impossible to keep tomorrow.
Here’s an example of a common vow: “I will never try to hurt you just because I am angry.” Here’s the problem: Even the Dalai Lama, with his enlightenment still says he has a problem with anger. We all have this problem and to try to say we’ll ‘never’ hurt someone else is impossible to keep. Our instincts are to react to threats and often times our instincts get ahead of our rational brain…and we get angry and strike out in ways that hurt our partner.
Another example: “I will always communicate openly and honestly”
Here’s the problem: Inherently, honest communication requires some risk of being vulnerable. If you say the truth to your partner, do you honestly know how he will react? What if you tell him you really don’t care for football anymore…and that was one of the reasons he married you? Or that his mother has some habits that really annoy you. The lizard brain deplores vulnerability
Another example: “I promise to give you understanding and comfort in whatever the future may bring.”
After counseling over 10,000 couples, I’ve learned that many couples, deep down inside, keep score. The lizard brain within you keeps score on what is given and what’s received. And if that equation is unbalanced, the more distressed your relationship becomes. When your relationship is under a lot of stress, it’s tough to give comfort and escape the undertow of the emotionally painful past
Reason #2: When you believe your marriage is permanent, you’ll get lazy.
The lizard brain within you spends most of its life wanting (and sometimes getting) maximum rewards for minimum efforts. We take our partner for granted, stop expressing appreciation, stop taking initiative to keep the relationship vibrant and stop taking emotional risks to grow the relationship. And then complain we are in a lifeless marriage. This especially happens with conflict avoidant partners who approach disagreements like Superman to kryptonite.
Because you entered into a permanent arrangement, your lizard brain is going to take advantage of the situation, and simply let you dismantle your vows because...your partner isn’t going anywhere. We ALL get lazy. The question is, will you consciously fight laziness?
Reason #3: You cannot predict the future.
The problem: Reality is subject to change without notice. Change is inevitable. But you didn’t write in your vows: “These vows may change”. So at some point your reality will be in conflict with your vows.
The only thing predictable about life is that circumstances change, we change, our partner changes – for better and worse. I heard a comedian say, “After we got married I said I would apply the philosophy of not going to bed mad. But after 8 months of no sleep I changed my mind.”
Nobody goes through life avoiding being mugged by failure or rejection – it is only a matter of how often and how severe. How we respond to the lizard reflex reactions of self-protection, withdrawal, and blame will determine the quality of your individual and marital life.
Drama triumph and darkness are baked into every marriage –because we are human with the two different brains the lizard brain and the visionary brain that really strives to make things better.
Interested in chatting with Dr. Pearson? Feeling antsy about your upcoming event? You can reach him at The Couple's Institute