Couples who have realistic expectations are much more likely to have a successful marriage. Regardless of the depth of your love on your wedding day, there will come a moment in your relationship when you two are not quite as thrilled with each other. If you are not prepared for such conflict, it can seem worse than it is. If you assume you are different from every other couple and will never experience a serious disagreement, you are in for quite the wakeup call.
All couples have disagreements and we all tend to argue about the same basic things – children, finances, household chores, etc. How we communicate and behave towards our spouse while resolving the conflict makes the difference between a happy marriage and a miserable one, not the absence of tension and conflict. The “happily ever after” fantasy from the fairy tales of our youth is just that – sheer fantasy.
Rituals of Reconciliation accomplish a few things. They give the couple an opportunity to ritually express their realistic expectations for marriage, amuse and delight married guests who know full well what is in store for the couple and provide the couple with a handy repair attempt. What is that you ask?
A repair attempt is simply something one person does in an effort to diffuse tension or resolve a conflict compassionately. It can be a concession, an apology or a humorous comment or action. A successful repair attempt is one in which the other party acknowledges and accepts the attempt with grace. Thanking the other for the concession, accepting the apology and appreciating the humor would constitute successful repair attempts.
I have already described the Bell of Truce. The Rose Ceremony and the Wine and Letter Box are two more examples of this type of ritual.
The Rose Ceremony: This is a touching exchange acknowledging the reality of marriage's difficulties when words sometimes fail. The bride and groom exchange roses, symbolizing the giving and receiving of their love throughout their marriage. The ceremony explains how to use the rose and its symbolism during those inevitable low points in the marriage when we must find the strength and compassion to forgive one another.
Officiant: (Bride) and (Groom), the rose has long been considered a symbol of love and a single rose says, "I love you." So it is highly appropriate you have chosen to exchange a single rose as you begin your life as husband and wife.
<they exchange roses>
(Bride) and (Groom), it may seem you have not done much at all. You held one small rose - and now you stand before us holding another. However, you have both given and received one of the most valuable and precious gifts of life; the gift of true and abiding love within the devotion of marriage. You also make a commitment to select a place in your future homes, a special place for roses. On each anniversary you may take a rose to that sanctified space as a recommitment to your marriage, and a recurring promise this marriage will be based upon love. It is often easiest to hurt those we love most and easiest to be hurt by them as well. In every marriage there are times when it is difficult to find the right words. We are at a loss to express our desire to apologize and forgive, to tell our loved ones how much we need them or how much pain we are in. When this happens, leave a rose at the place you have designated and that rose will tell the other "I love you still." May the you have the grace to accept the rose for words that cannot be found or spoken and remember the love and hope you both share today.
(Bride) and (Groom), when you share the roses to come, remember love brought you to this time and place. It is love which makes this a glorious union and it is by your love you will find the compassion and commitment for your marriage to endure in beauty, strength and delight.
<bride and groom place the roses in a vase>
If during your courtship, you have stumbled upon a unique repair attempt that works for you, discuss with your officiant how you might ritualize it within your wedding. This is a wonderful way to make the ceremony even more uniquely your own.