There's been a significant amount of debate on one of the sites I frequent lately about marital vows and how they relate to poly people that are married. I'm sure that for people that come to poly prior to making a marital vow, they are likely to sculpt their vows to fit their version of polyamory. For those of us that were mono first, did the more typical get married and then evolve into poly, there are vows we've taken that are no longer honored. What does that _mean_?
In polyamory, there is a distinction we generally make between cheating and poly. Poly is consensual. All parties involved know what is going on and have made agreements about it. Cheating is sneaking around behind someones unsuspecting back, often lying overtly as well as by omission. Being honest is morally superior, right? Yet we are overtly breaking vows taken at another time in life. Does the concept of vow-taking hold any validity in the world of poly?
My conjecture at this point in my life is that there are very few vows that are going to hold lifetime validity. My commitment to being a parent is one of those. To honor those I love and nurture myself would be others. Most of the vows we take are handed to us by default.
When I was 19 and getting married, I meant the vows I took. As we've grown, our understanding of life and love has shifted, and perspectives grow, leading to re-negotiating the guidelines that underlie our relationship(s).
If we shift a vow together, does that "contract" as originally spoken or written still hold sway? My opinion is a resounding no! As with any contract or agreement, if all parties involved choose to change the terms, it invalidates the original contract. Problems ensue if there is a hold out for change. What then? I guess that will be a post for a different day! Happy negotiations!