Marriage involves two people who have vowed before their God, the government, their family and friends, or simply to each other, to ‘Forsake All Others’ for the rest of their lives.
But I have found very few people know what that promise means, even fewer people are actually sticking to the promise in their marriage.
It’s no surprise then to see that many of these people find themselves in marriages that are different from what they had envisaged.
And, of course, that is often why they seek out the help and assistance of a Relationship Counsellor.
So, what does ‘Forsaking All Others’ really mean?
It means, as a single person, you have looked around, considered other options, then found someone who you are willing to place at the top of your priority list from this day forward.
Then, not only have you placed this person at the summit of your list, they are just as happy to reciprocate with you.
If we have achieved a ‘kiss for kiss’ relationship, you are my priority and I am yours, then we have what I describe as a positive reciprocal relationship.
In other words, I am giving just as much as I am receiving.
But Joel, what about kids? Shouldn’t they be my top priority? No. Aside from the first six months of life when I believe it’s OK for a baby to share the top spot (i.e. when the baby needs you for basic survival), a child should never be your top priority.
A child can never reciprocate in the same manner as a partner.
Also, the child doesn’t want to be the top priority. What the child wants is for parents who are able to provide them with a positive childhood that is stable, consistent, loving, and has proper boundaries.
Kids don’t want parents that are constantly fighting. They want to feel safe knowing their parents aren’t breaking up.
Mostly though, they need you to show them what a healthy, loving and mutually supportive adult relationship looks like, so they can model their relationships on what they witnessed growing up.
Another way of looking at this is the Yin-Yang symbol. That famous symbol represents harmony and balance, and it features a white fish and a black fish.
The fish are as different as black and white, yet they chase each other around in equal measures in perfect unity.
If you get the ‘Forsaking All Others’ bit right, you are loving and being loved by your partner in equal doses, then the rest of your life, including raising kids, will fall into place.
And of course, you don’t have to be married to carry that spirit of partner prioritizing, so long as you both are on the same page with it, and are willing to actually do it for each other.
“I promise to love you faithfully, forsaking all others, through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health, regardless of where life takes us. I will protect you, trust you, and respect you. I will share your joys and sorrows and comfort you in times of need. I promise to cherish you and uphold your hopes and dreams and keep you safe at my side. All that is mine is now yours. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love from this moment on for as long as we both shall live.” – E.L. James