The wedding is one of life’s primeval and surprisingly unchanged rites of passage. Nearly all of the customs we observe today are merely echoes of the past. Everything from the veil, rice, flowers, and old shoes, to the bridesmaids and processionals, at one time, bore a very specific and vitally significant meaning. Today, although the original substance is often lost, we incorporate old world customs into our weddings because they are traditional and ritualistic.
Old world marriage customs continue to thrive today, in diluted, disguised and often upgraded forms. Customs we memorialize today were once “brand new” ideas. Although historical accuracy is hard to achieve, the historical weight attached to old world wedding customs and traditions is immense. While reading through these pages, feel free to use, reinterpret, or omit them in your own wedding.
Remember, as you plan for your wedding, to create new family traditions and customs to be handed down to your children and their children. Just think, maybe someday, your “new custom” will be as unique and exciting as these presented here.
Up to and during the Middle Ages, weddings were considered family/community affairs. The only thing needed to create a marriage was for both partners to state their consent to take one another as spouses. Witnesses were not always necessary, nor were the presence of the clergy. In Italy, for example, the marriage was divided into three parts. The first portion consisted of the families of the groom and bride drawing up the papers. The bride didn’t even have to be there for that. The second, the betrothal, was legally binding and may or may not have involved consummation. At this celebration, the couple exchanged gifts (a ring, a piece of fruit, etc.), clasped hands and exchanged a kiss. The “vows” could be a simple as, “Will you marry me?” “I will.” The third part of the wedding, which could occur several years after the betrothal, was the removal of the bride to the groom’s home. The role of the clergy at a medieval wedding was simply to bless the couple. It wasn’t official church policy until the council of Trent in the 15th century that a third party (i.e., a priest), as opposed to the couple themselves, was responsible for performing the wedding. In the later medieval period, the wedding ceremony moved from the house of the bride to the church. It began with a procession to the church from the bride’s house. Vows were exchanged outside the church (by the way, the priest gave the bride to the groom…I don’t think she was presented by her father) and then everyone moved inside for Mass. After Mass, the procession went back to the bride’s house for a feast. Musicians accompanied the procession.
It can be easy to have a fun and romantic courtship period, but you may worry that your marriage won’t last once the initial spark has died down. However, if you want to live a happy married life, then you have to work on keeping the romance alive and on continuing to grow—both with your partner and as an individual. Though it’s not always easy, you can make your marriage thrive if you and your partner are willing to put in the effort.
#Respect your spouse. If you want to have a healthy marriage, then you have to make your spouse feel like your equal and take his feelings into account whenever you’re making a decision or just going about your day. If you treat your spouse like his opinions don’t really matter or like you always have the final say, then you’re bound to have an imbalance in your marriage. Make sure that you give your spouse’s views the same seriousness that you give your own and that you take the time to listen to your spouse and make him feel like you care.
#*Work to be kind, loving, and understanding to your spouse. If you’re having a bad day and snap at him, make sure you apologize; give him the basic respect he deserves instead of thinking you can do whatever you want because you’re married.
#*You should also respect your spouse’s privacy. Don’t go snooping through his phone or computer if you expect him to feel respected.
#Work to keep your relationship in the present. If you care about your spouse and want to have a healthy and productive relationship, then you should avoid getting hung up on past mistakes you both made or keep reminding your spouse of his failures; instead, work on reinforcing positive behavior, enjoying your present time together, and thinking of all you have to look forward to. If you really care about your spouse, then you will be considerate of his feelings and won’t bring up the past just to get a reaction out of him.[[Image:Live a Happy Married Life Step 2 Version 2.jpg|center]]
#*Though it’s not always easy to let go of the past, you shouldn’t bring it up out of spite. Remember that your spouse is a living, breathing person too and that you shouldn’t bring up the past just to hurt him.
#Take the time to listen. Listening is one of the best ways to be considerate toward your spouse. Don’t just zone out when your spouse is talking about his day or wait for him to finish talking so you can say what you want to say; make an effort to really hear him out and to care about what he’s telling you. When you’re having a real conversation, put away your phone, make eye contact, and be considerate enough to really listen.
#*Of course, we all zone out from time to time. If that happens during a conversation, don’t pretend like you’re following; apologize and figure out what your spouse was really saying.
#*Ask your spouse questions to show that you really do care; you don’t want him to feel like he’s boring you.
#*Sometimes, all your spouse needs after a hard day is for someone to listen to him. You don’t have to feel compelled to give advice all the time.
#Give priority to your spouse. Though you don’t need to make your life revolve completely around your spouse, you have to remember that when you and your spouse decided to get married, you wanted to be a priority in each other’s lives. You should make sure to honor that decision and to make all of your big decisions with your spouse in mind, making sure that you try to do what’s best for you as well as for the person you are married to.[[Image:Live a Happy Married Life Step 4 Version 2.jpg|center]]
#*If your family or friends aren’t getting along with your spouse, then you shouldn’t try to jump to their defense unless your spouse is being unreasonable; make sure you’re considerate of your spouse’s feelings and that you give him the love and support he deserves.
#Maintain strong communication. If you want your marriage to be a happy one, then communication is key. You and your partner should be able to talk graciously to each other about your thoughts—especially about things for the two of you to agree upon or do together. Doing this daily helps foster communication between partners and to keep your marriage healthy and strong.
#* Never say things in anger intentionally meaning to hurt your partner. Cruel words you said but didn’t mean may be hard for your spouse to forget—they can cause lasting damage to your relationship. If you do end up saying something you don’t mean, make sure you apologize.
#*When arguing, keep to the subject and try not to personally attack your partner.
#*In order to have strong communication, you have to be aware of your partner’s thoughts and moods even before you have a conversation. You should be able to read your partner’s body language and expression to be able to tell whether something is wrong and to feel comfortable bringing it up.
#Don’t break marital confidences or use them as a weapon during an argument. If your partner trusted you with something very private and important, then you shouldn’t undermine that trust by reporting it to someone else just because you didn’t really think about it. If it was something painful and personal, then don’t use it as ammunition during an argument, or your partner will be betrayed. Be considerate of the fact that your partner trusted you with important information and make sure to honor that trust.
#*You should be the person your spouse trusts more than anyone in the world. Don’t do anything to jeopardize that trust. If you do make a mistake, make sure to apologize for it.
#Be attuned to your partner’s moods. If you sense that something is wrong with your partner, take time to embrace him and ask what’s the matter—maybe that’s the time he or she needs your attention the most. Don’t ignore that opportunity. If your partner isn’t ready to talk, then you don’t have to push it and make things worse, but you should show that you’ll be there when he is ready and willing to open up.
#*If you and your partner are out in a social setting and you notice that something isn’t quite right, don’t ask about it in front of everyone; pull your partner aside to show that you’re really paying attenti
#Don’t forget to say “I love you”. Don’t ever think that you don’t have to say “I love you” because your partner should already know how you feel. Make an effort to tell your partner how much you love him or her at least once or twice a day and make sure you slow down, look your partner in the eyes, and say it like you really mean it. Don’t just say “Love ya!” as you leave the house or say “love you” in a text message—take the time to let your partner know how much he really means to you, in person.
#*Making this small effort to say these three sacred words can make a big difference in your relationship.
#*Don’t just say these words because you want something or because you’re making up after a fight; say them just because you truly feel them. That’s when it means the most.