What Wedding Vows and Other Commitments Get Wrong

03/11/2015 02:22 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2015
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Why do our best attempts at lasting love so often fail? If you really want to grow old together, here's the only commitment you need to make.

"To have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part."

You've probably heard these words many times, and perhaps you've even said them yourself.

These are the typical vows countless couples have made to each other for ages.

And whether you're married or not, these vows are a perfect example of the impossible-to-keep commitments we make when it comes to romantic relationships. If you've ever found yourself falling head over heels for someone... only to feel not-so-in love anymore later, read on.

We're going to look at some important questions anyone who wants a lasting, loving relationship will want to answer:

Why do our best attempts at lasting love fail? And, more importantly, how can we keep the promises we make to each other so that love grows rather than withers?

The quick answer is that we make the mistake of committing to outcomes rather than processes. Let's see why...

The Problem With Typical Wedding Vows

If you look closely at the wording of traditional wedding vows, you'll see that they're largely focused on outcomes: unconditional love, fidelity, loyalty, and tenacity.

Sure, we want these things. And we have the best intentions when we make these commitments. But the truth is that you can't control how you -- or your partner -- will feel every day.

Over the course of a long-term intimate relationship, you can bet there will be days when you will wake up and not feel very in love with your partner. Think of your primary relationship - the one you have with yourself. You have good days and bad days. Sometimes you feel pretty good about who you are. Other times, you just want to kick yourself.

This is simply part of being human. If you think you'll be in a great mood every single day, you're bound to feel frustrated and as if there's something wrong with you. Similarly, if you commit to unending devotion to your partner, you're setting yourself up for failure.

So how do we get what we want -- day in, day out? How does a couple achieve the outcome of lasting love when they intend to spend a lifetime together?

Commit to Processes, Not Outcomes -- Implement Little Things You Can Do Every Day That Add Up to the Big Ticket

If you commit to going on a vacation as a couple every year, that's great. But unless the two of you sit down, plan the trip, and take all the actions to make it happen, you're not going anywhere... except on a path of frustration and disappointment!

The same thing happens with relationships. In order to achieve the desired destination - in this case a lasting, loving relationship -- you need to commit to all the factors that make lasting love possible.

You commit to the process, not the outcome.

Wedding vows are wishful and hopeful good things, but they don't have an effect on the day-to-day functioning of a relationship.

That's because we don't have control over outcomes.

In our seminars, we invite couples to instead make a commitment about processes in relationships.

Processes are the actions you and your partner take to achieve your desired outcome. And you have complete control over them. If you practice them consistently, then you will create the lasting love you want.

The Most Important Commitment You Can Make, Starting Now

It is never too early, or too late, to make new commitments. If you're single, you can commit to loving processes with everyone you meet. This is the single most important thing you can do to attract a conscious, loving relationship.

And if you're in a committed relationship, you can recommit to new vows today - doing so will bring you and your partner to a whole new level of intimacy and harmony in your relationship.

Start here:

Make a commitment to speaking honestly and listening generously.

When you withhold your true feelings from your partner, you may think you're trying to keep the peace. But the truth is, you've already checked out of the relationship. When you are not emotionally transparent, it creates a negative domino effect. You build up resentment and start acting differently towards your partner, which in turn creates distance in your relationship.

When you promise to be honest with each other, and to listen without judgment, you are instead creating a safe space where trust and intimacy can truly flourish.

And that's when lasting love becomes not just a wish, but a reality.

Katie and Gay's free relationship e-newsletter, Hearts In Harmony, explores the challenges and glories of lasting love. Based on the tools they've developed throughout their 30+ year marriage and taught to thousands, you'll learn powerful insights and practical techniques you can start using today -- whether you're in a relationship or eager to attract one.