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[Personal Post] The Vows at My “Wedding”

From California to Alaska and all the states in between, I’ve lived on the West Coast of the United States all my life. For the first time in my life I’ve become an ‘East Coaster’, living in beautiful Western Pennsylvania. (The beauty here is far more subtle than I’m used to. What they call ‘mountains’ here always makes me grin, but you can’t argue with the rolling hills and autumn leaf colors.) Why am I here? Why, love of course. I met an incredible human being named Joel two years ago to the day of October 15th, and it seemed only reasonable to marry him.

One of the coolest things about living in Pennsylvania was my discovery that they allow what is called “self-uniting” marriages. While you have to have two witnesses sign the paperwork, you can essentially marry yourself without any need for standard formality. (This was originally a provision for Quakers, but has become available to anyone who asks for it.)

We married just this week, October 15th in a very private ceremony. It wasn’t really a wedding in the traditional sense. We chose to do so outside in the cool autumn air, surrounded by colorful trees and gravestones. That’s right – we married ourselves in a cemetery. While this may sound like the ideal spot for gothic teenagers to vow eternal love, we chose it primarily as a reminder to how fleeting life is and to make good use of every moment we’re blessed with together.

Sounds odd, but it worked for us. We’re at that age where we’ve started living deliberately and we do the things that make sense to us, regardless of public opinion.

The reason I’m writing a blog post about this is that I’d like to share with you some of the vows that we wrote. I won’t share Joel’s (those are his to share with whom he desires), but I’d like to share the ones I wrote for him. I feel that I put a lot of thought into them, and while they are personal to us I like to think that the principles they touch on are universal to everyone. If you find some use in them, excellent! If not, then consider this simply sharing.

My vows to Joel:

I promise that I am and will remain committed to your personal development. I will do everything in my power to hold space for you while you are learning, endeavoring to experience your current level of development as beautiful without judgment. I I also promise to push you if you ever begin stagnating and to stay as committed to the same excellence that you want for yourself. As I will not be perfect keeping this vow, and as I am in my own journey of development, I humbly request the same of you.

I promise to resolve conflict quickly. I will also do my best to recognize ill feelings as they happen and not allow them to fester. However, if an ill feeling escapes my notice and it turns into an unconscious stack, I promise the moment I’m aware of it to immediately investigate the source regardless of the level of discomfort or shame this may bring me. I will be humble, acknowledging my part in our fights. I vehemently vow never to harbor negative feelings, nor allow them to turn into disdain.

I commit to being the best possible influence on your children, G and S. I will continue to work on myself to be the kind of person that can influence them in a healthy and empowering way. When I am wrong or mistreat them, I will apologize to them. I will see their success as part of my life mission, and I will love them as they are the children of my love: you.

I commit to continuing my knowledge and education about you as you grow and change. I will not become lazy nor will I delude myself into believing that because you have behaved a certain way for a time than that is how you SHOULD behave. I will use my ever-growing knowledge about you to treat you with understanding and love. I promise now that I will not weaponize my knowledge of you or use it against you in any way. I vow that I will do everything in my power to be a place of safety and rest.

I believe that our bodies are a gift to each other. My body is yours. As such, I will do what I can to be a vessel of pleasure. I will keep myself healthy and attractive to you, and I will not withhold sex for any reason that has selfish intent. If for any reason I have become unattractive to you I will welcome this feedback and do what I can to be a source of delight once more. (The only caveat being the irreversible marks that time will stamp upon me which are beyond my control. :p)

Once you have discovered your life mission, it will be my privilege and pleasure to support you to the absolute best of my ability. Your success in life is my success, and I will do what I can to empower you, encourage you and inspire you to accomplish what you were put on earth to do.

I vow to maintain an inter-dependent relationship with you. I have thoughtfully decided to be transparent with you while acknowledging your right to personal space. I will not require of you information that is private to you. I will be open and free with my information and will always be grateful of the same in return. I believe this is a gift we give to each other, not a right we demand. As inter-dependent humans, I state now that I respect your personal privacy, now and always.

As you continue on your spiritual journey, I vow to be supportive and respectful. Your memes are your own, and regardless of whether or not our beliefs on nature and in the divine are shared, I promise I will always be open to your perspective and respectful. Your journey is beautiful to me, and I will not derail your enlightenment from insecurity in my own beliefs. I will be interested and patient during this journey. I humbly request the same of you.

I am committed to successful relationships within your family. I will do my best to promote healthy, loving, harmonious bonds with you and each member of your family. I will love your family as my own. This promise extends to any family that may yet be – the families of our children and so on.

I will always respect you. Always. If our intimate relationship should at any time become complete, I will do everything in my power to keep our new and less intimate relationship loving and respectful. As the father of my child, Piper, and any future children we will have together I promise to honor you as their father and be cooperative no matter what the circumstances. There will always be something out there that is a little bit you, a little bit me. I believe this is beautiful and special and I will protect it.

Our relationship is sacred to me. I vow to do everything in my power to preserve it as a lifelong romantic and deeply intimate bond. I vow to vigilantly maintenance anything within the relationship that ceases to promote this kind of bond.

I love you. I am, and always will be, grateful that you love me. It is my full intention to have a full and satisfying life as your partner, to do everything in my power to keep us on this trajectory and to enjoy you as the incredible, sexy and mind-blowingly amazing human being I fell in love with for the first time two years ago today.

I don’t often get this personal – I’m usually far more interested in the cerebral and the impersonal. So I’d like to thank you for letting me share something this intimate. As I mentioned, if you find something that is of use or illuminating, then fantastic! And while I always love comments, if you choose to leave one… be gentle. 🙂

About Antonia Dodge

Seeing how people tick is at the heart of Antonia’s natural ability to understand how people systems work. She is an author, thought leader, coach, trainer, systems thinker, and personality profiling expert.  At the age of 15 Antonia picked up a book on personality psychology and her world changed forever. She began to see the patterns of why people do what they do – not based on behavior alone – but based on how the mind works. Antonia has co-developed a 6-month profiler training course that teaches coaches and business professionals how to "speed read" people, understand how their mind works and and then work with the unique personality for achievement, life purpose, or team building.
  • Kelly Crowther

    Wow…Antonia–what beautiful and thoughtful words. I wish you both all the best in your new wedded life together. Congratulations for finding each other. Your words have inspired me to renew my own search for someone to whom to make a similar set of vows.

  • Isaac

    These Vows are indeed, incredibly insightful and must be of much use to most people. Really a nice one.

  • Chrissi

    Beautiful and very moving I wish you many years of love and happiness together each day being better than the last

  • Toni Papillon

    I agree with Kelly. Your words are an inspiration. Currently single, It helps me recall the spirit and nature of true love. It gives me hope. Your words resonate with my belief that you get what you give and that I need to give without any expectation. It encourages me to be patient. The right one is out there and if I keep my inner light nourished and bright, we will find each other. Thank you so much for sharing! Congratulations and warmest wishes to you!

  • My darling Antonia,

    My heart is bubbling with delight for you. Thank you for sharing yours with me. I am touched and inspired for that day I write something as heartfelt for my lover.

    I love you and congratulations.

  • Sigrid

    well, that is beautiful, you have basically summed up everything that i think makes for a wonderful relationship. thanks for sharing Antonia, it really made me smile, and restored a little bit of lost faith back into the world of the “marriage go round”.
    wish you a lot of happiness, success and enduring love in your marriage.

    cyber hugs to you ( i know you can handle cyber hugs 😉

  • tamaran

    Very Beautiful and inspiring. I will write my own. BTW, I am from the east coast; moved to the east coast for work, met a man moved to MD now we live in PA. I laugh also about their “mountains” glorified hills. It is quite beautiful here!

  • RC

    What a lucky man your husband is to have found a loyal and loving women like you.

  • oyinlola

    Congratulation and I love you both!!!

  • Amy

    How nice to see a woman choosing to communicate with such sincerity and INTELLIGENCE in this way. Woman too often let intelligence and depth take the back seat.. Especially at affairs such as this, to opt for fluff and cutesy stuff.. To be the “little princess”. You came forward in a very wholly way, though. Regal, intelligent, spiritual… And i love the cemetery theme for poetic clarity of life’s truth. There is nothing ugly about a cemetery. They are one of my fave places to be. I like walking through the reminder of life’s facts, as well. Very nice, Antonia! And congrats! Even if you ditched me in California. Enjoy the lovely east coast! ..amy

  • Rashmi

    Congratulations Antonia. Your vows have made me respect you for having learnt the essense of love and relationships. I thought I knew a bit about loving but clearly I’ve so much ground to cover. It was incredibly brave and humane of you to share this piece of ur life with us. Shows your spirit of universal brotherhood. Please continue sharing about your journey ahead. The challenges faced and the lessons learnt. Wish you a fulfilling life ahead. Love and hugs.

  • Maria

    You are indeed changing the world for its highest and greatest good!
    Thank you for sharing your vows for others to witness.

  • phil

    Experience made me understand every part
    of your email, so when i say i’m moved by those
    vows, i’m genuinely moved, strange to be over
    the moon for two people i dont know personally
    but i am, love and peace always 🙂

  • Erica

    Thank you for sharing your personal and intimate vows. I copied them into my journal because the words and the meaning behind them were so powerful. Best wishes for a warm future together.

  • randy julien

    Very sweet vow to your husband, thank you for sharing this with your subscribers. I enjoyed reading this vow for it has lots of rich content that I myself would want to give to my own partner when that day does arrive. I appreciate the whole letter because it reminds me that there are plenty of other individuals whom know the greater reality of life.[ I’m 22 and its less than a year new to me] I’m very grateful Antonia. Bless your life, husbands && all your family.

  • These vows are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them. They are written as marital vows should be written. Bless you both.

  • Congratulations! It surely must take courage to present that to the public. I think that your new husband is a very lucky man! I am happily married, for many years now, but even if I have never written vows to my husband, I do think that I have put in action many of some mentioned in your declaration. I wish your life will be as happy as ours. Blessings to you !

  • Philip

    You’re words transcend the challenges that couples are facing in these times and are spoken with much personal wisdom that few of us will ever gain. Thank you for your transparency, your action in sharing these words show how great your character is. If I could see love, this is what it would look like. – PW

  • Tony

    Those were very nice words. I know a woman who should read them. I think they would do her alot of good. Then maybe should would learn that how she is treating me isn’t the way to go about dealing with whatever issues she is having with me. Just saying. And congratulations on your wedding. 🙂

  • Erik

    Wow! Those vows are a guidance to live by. I copied them to use as an inspiration of how to be a better spouse. Thank you for sharing. And I hope you enjoy Western PA. I am a Pittsburgh boy myself who “emigrated” to the west coast.

  • A wonderful way of pledging loyalty and love between spouses. Congrats ! Keep it up.!
    God bless you. May He give you strength and courage to face the challenges on your journey together. BRAVO !
    Love and prayers Marion

  • emmanuel

    What so great and powerful your vows are,touching,sweet and loving to read and apply.You are a great personality and wil always appreciate you in my entire life.My only problem now is to find someone i can love and behold as my wife forever so am asking how best you can help me to choose a life partner.Thank and God bless you

  • Bianka

    Very sweet, thoughtful and giving…”As you continue on your spiritual journey, I vow to be supportive and respectful.” I only hope he made similar vows towards you. Women are so much more connected to feelings and emotions…it is almost a natural to play the supporting role… However, as we see in current politics, this is a great disservice because women become viewed as a commodity over whom one can dictate into compliance. Whether one is pro-life or pro-abortion is immaterial… one should first respect the person in charge of the birth decision… it can ONLY be the woman’s right to chose…=right to vote=right to same pay for same work=right of self determination.
    How is this important??? Look around at the lives of Women Head of Household, after their dream marriage ended for whatever reason (differences/death) There are no financial benefits derived from decades of “supportive and respectful;” you cannot put that in your resume, even if applying for a social worker’s position!!
    In short, you really , really need to “vow to be supportive and respectful,” to YOU first and foremost, and only a very, very close second to the love of your life. Only your Children may come First, BUT only while not adults.

  • Thank you for sharing something so personal, Toni! I love the fact that you guys did this in a cemetery!! It reminds me of the Tarot card, Death (#13), it signifies the death of something old so something new can be reborn. Both of you have seen things you once believed in die, but without those deaths you wouldn’t be where you are now. Congratulations!! You deserve all the happiness the universe can provide:~)

  • Marie carr

    Thanks for sharing your deep of feelings, honesty and intimate thoughts. I am a sucker for romantic love, long may yours live. It would be good to read your husbands vows. I resently heard in the news that Love is nothing more than Brain chemistry between 2 people, and after 3 years those happy brain induced endorfens by love begin to wain, what would be your take on that I wonder?
    love always

  • Bheelek Diasham

    Thanks for sharing Antonia!

    For all I know, you may have just started a new Trend….Simple, Real, Down to Earth and Loving.



  • Max

    Wow!…How refreshing to have such unusual but honest and personal vows.
    My best wishes to you both and your children.
    p.s. Your lives came together on my birthday! 🙂

  • oyinlola

    I wish you (both) well

  • noush

    wonderfully drafted, touching n inspiring and a very conscious marriage

  • Roland

    Congratulations on your recent marriage. I wish you both nothing but the best and a wonderful journey and life together.
    Thank you for sharing your vows. Very detailed, illuminating and enjoyable. Your husband is a very lucky man to have such a smart and dedicated woman as his wife.
    You obviously understand the whole life journey that 2 people will and can embark on to live and enjoy a life together as you both grow older and closer together. I like that you incorporate the lovely, fun and good parts of a marriage with the not so pleasant aspects of life together. You understand that sometimes both of you will get on each others nerves and that there are certain aspects of your partner that are not so pleasant and desirable.
    Yet love will win in the end. Again, congratulations on your marriage. I can only hope that I will be as great a partner with my girlfriend as we embark on a life together.

  • FM

    Thank You Antonia. For being intimate in this way with all of us. May we all be so vulnerable to love.

  • Tony


    I am so touched by your wedding vows – they really touch me to the core! I’ve never come across such a beautiful expression of Love from one human being to another, so thank you ever so much for sharing that with us. Your words are so inspiring – if any woman said them to me, my heart would melt.

    Congratulations on your Wedding, and may you and Joel have a wonderful life together 🙂

  • Anndreyea

    Made me rethink the reason for partnership.
    And pause on how lucky I am in mine with my mate.
    What ever time left it will be just right!
    Thank you for sharing your vows!

  • Sofya

    Thank you for so generously sharing such an intimate experience. This is a marriage vow worth etching in stone and I was moved reading it. Profound, inspires me to strive for those principles in all my social contracts – as a way of life. Your articles always leave me inspired.

  • Rizo

    Thanks for sharing. Wishing you both a universe of loving and sharing.

  • Rayomnd

    Beautifully thought out and written, you are a blessing to us for opening our eyes.