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Fulfilling the Vow: To Have and to Hold


Getting married to the one person you can’t imagine spending your life without is the happiest moment in your life. You know that this is the beginning of a new chapter in your life and you’re excited to create a lifetime of memories together.

Your wedding is here and you are standing at the altar with your mate, preparing to recite your wedding vows. The question is do you understand the meaning of those vows? 

This series is designed to break down these vows and explain the meaning along with how you and your partner can begin to empower your marriage. 


To Have and to Hold

VOW:  Do you (your name) take (your spouse’s name) as your lawfully wedded husband/wife to have and to hold……

Let’s take a look at this particular vow closely. What does it mean?

Simply put, this vow is talking about your physical connection and intimacy with each other. You belong to one another.  It doesn’t mean that you are each other’s property; however, it means that you are committing to fulfill each other’s physical and emotional needs.

This vow seems like it should be simple to follow but once the wedding is over, the challenge begins! So how do you ensure that you are fulfilling this vow and not losing your sense of self?  Glad you asked….keep reading!



Think about how your relationship was in the beginning. You couldn’t keep your hands off of each other. Any spare moment that you had, you were bunny rabbits.

What happened? 

Life happened!  Believe it or not when you neglect to fulfill this vow for whatever reason, you are inviting division into your marriage. The key is making time for each other and each other’s needs.  There are so many things that can interrupt the success of this vow but I’m going to focus on the top 3 in my opinion and tips on how to make positive changes in those areas. 


Every day you are expected to wear many hats which can bring frustration, fatigue, confusion about who you are as a person, confusion about your life’s direction, and more.

When you have all of this going on mentally, it is difficult to ensure that you are following through with your obligations as a spouse.

The thing to keep in mind is that your spouse is more than just your spouse. They are your friend, supporter, motivator, your voice of reason and your clear mind when yours is cloudy. They are there to help lift your mental and physical load.

Now, if you aren’t fulfilling this role as a spouse then that is a whole different story and something that we must tackle but at a later time. The point is that you should be able to sit down with your spouse and calmly explain where your load is overwhelming. Tell them exactly what you need from them in order to help you to fulfill your daily obligations in efforts to free up space in your mind to prepare for fulfilling the obligations of this vow.

When you are able to work together to establish a solution, you can get back to having a physical and emotional connection with one another.


My grandparents raised me, and I grew up seeing them live in separate bedrooms. My grandmother needed her ceiling which made my grandfather freeze to death. My grandfather got very little sleep due to my grandmother’s earthquake snoring but my grandmother slept like a baby. They thought the best solution was to sleep in separate bedrooms.

I never agreed with that solution but when you have people that have had this arrangement for 30 plus years, it was very difficult to help them change their minds about their sleeping arrangements.

I am hoping that you will entertain my thoughts on this and at least try to make changes if this applies to you. The bedroom is the number one place that should belong to only you and your spouse.

RULE NUMBER ONE: NO KIDS, PETS, CELL PHONES, LAPTOPS OR IPADS/TABLETS ARE ALLOWED. This is the time that the world becomes quiet and the only thing in your view is each other. You are there with each other to unwind from a busy day and cap the evening with relaxation. This is not the time to discuss problems you have with each other or your co-workers. Use this time to have and hold each other!

Sometimes you are simply too exhausted to be physical with each other and that is understandable but you can hold each other. You can touch, kiss, rub, and caress….intimacy. Fall asleep with the person that is most important and relevant to you.

I hear some of you saying that you aren’t sleepy at the same time that your spouse is sleepy so you camp out on the couch until you doze off. Most couples that I talk to with that problem typically have an unhappy spouse going to bed by themselves.

Is the TV THAT important? It shouldn’t be.

If you aren’t sleepy, use that time to connect with your spouse. Allow your spouse to help put you to sleep. Catch my drift?!

Intimacy is so important .Intimacy enhances your physical connection. It gives you a moment to appreciate each other’s presence. This is positive time you can spend with each other instead of only communicating when there are problems. This form of non-verbal communication on a consistent basis will break down barriers that are within your relationship.

Sit down with your partner and come up with a plan that will help the both of you have more bedroom moments together. For example, maybe your spouse has an issue with sitting in bed with their laptop or phone and spends a lot of time scrolling on social networking sites or checking emails. Set a cutoff time that is feasible for the both of you. Once that cut off time arrives, it’s time to focus on each other only. Whatever is keeping you two from having intimacy and a physical connection, figure out a plan that will get you back to focusing on each other’s needs.

  1. Lack of awareness

I understand that the many turns of life can cause us to not be aware of our partner’s needs. Think back to when you were totally in tune with your partner. You wanted to impress them and you did things for them without them asking you to. Your mission was to show them why they needed to belong to you and only you.

This should continue to be your mission after marriage.

Yes you both vowed to have and hold each other and only each other but here’s reality. When you stop choosing to show each other why you are the best and only choice, you are opening the door for someone outside of your household to start negotiations with your spouse.

Shouldn’t they be loyal to you even if you aren’t aware of their needs because they made a commitment? Absolutely! But let’s be real here. The less you pay attention, the harder you are making it for your partner to follow through on this commitment.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

  • When you were hired on your job you entered a commitment with your employer. You agreed to perform the duties for which you were hired, perform those duties everyday you are scheduled, and fulfill those duties according to the company’s policy. In exchange for your labor, your employer committed to paying you for the hours that you work on the agreed upon pay date.
  • Let’s say that you have fulfilled your end of the agreement. You worked every day you were scheduled and even received some awards for being an exceptional worker but when pay day arrived, your employer informed you that they weren’t able to pay you but still needed you to continue to work. Your employer finally paid you (late) but the next pay day he informed you he could only pay half of what you earned.
  • How long would you be able to follow through on your end of your commitment? Your employer’s actions will begin to make it hard for you to have the zeal you once had about your job.
  • Your performance may not be as top notch because now you are wondering if you are going to be compensated.
  • It will even start to make you wonder about the amount that you are being paid. You used to be satisfied with the amount but now since your employer is inconsistent with your pay, you are starting to question just how fair your agreement is.

Your partner feels the same way about their commitment to you. Show them that you are still the best choice they could have made in their lives. Don’t allow your actions to cause them question your relationship and their commitment to you.

Sit with your partner and both of you express the area that your partner needs to become more aware of your needs. Is that area interfering with the intimacy and physical connection that your relationship needs? Commit to each other to follow this new journey of being more aware of each other and what you need to improve your relationship. This will require habits to be broken and conscious effort to turn this around!


I want each of you to be successful in your marriage and I know that if you are reading this article, you want to find workable solutions to help you overcome your challenges with intimacy and physical connection.

Here’s my challenge!  I hope you are up for it!

  • Starting today, for 30 days I want to challenge you to sex challenge. Every day for 30 days I want you to have sex!
  • Now this is hard (hence the word challenge) so you are going to have to make a conscious effort to do this. You will have to make lifestyle adjustments so this works. Make this fun!  Literally sneak around with each other (but don’t do anything illegal or that is going to get you arrested). 
  • Find the time to be with each other. If you work different schedules and this is difficult, be with each other physically every day that you are together. If you are apart have phone sex or sexting!  Make this challenge fun. 
  • Trust me, if you aren’t into phone sex this will bring about much needed laughter but guaranteed to bring you together!  Pretend you are dating again! The key to this is to simply have fun!  Don’t over think this. Don’t necessarily plan it. Just at some point in the day, one of you make a move! 
  • Ladies, don’t leave this all of to the fellow. They love you being the initiator too! 

I want to know how this works for you! Let me know in the comments below of your results!

Keisha Ellis

Relationship coach

Photo Credit : Sherri Samson


Contact me




  • capricorn
    March 04, 2018

    please help just to get my mind set on doing this. I WORK all the time .wear many hats and when I get home. I'm not in the mood at all. besides I'm not a touchy feeling person. I'm kinda uptight when Im been touch or caress. so how where do I start. we been married for nearly 10years

  • john
    July 09, 2021

    22 years married and with an almost completely intimacy avoidant partner. She has cuddles for kids but flinches at my touch. It’s humiliating initiating only to get knocked back relentlessly. Have been angry about it, grief stricken now just don’t know what to do.


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