Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Willard F. Harley, Jr.'s book, I Promise You: Preparing for a Marriage that Will Last a Lifetime, (Revell Books, 2006).

As you prepare to get married, you’re looking forward to saying your wedding vows as part of a meaningful ceremony. But those vows are more than just one-time declarations to remember fondly. They’re promises that you and your partner need to fulfill every day of your lives, in order to achieve a healthy and lasting marriage.

Focusing on four key promises can help you develop a thriving marriage. When both you and your partner are fulfilled in such a relationship, your marriage is likely to last a lifetime. Here are promises to live up to every day:

The promise of care. This promise says, “I promise to be your primary source of happiness – to meet your most important emotional needs.” Recognize that you help create love when you do your best to meet your partner’s most important emotional needs, but you destroy love when you neglect those needs. Understand the 10 most common emotional needs: affection, sexual fulfillment, intimate conversation, recreational companionship, honesty and openness, physical attractiveness, financial support, domestic support, family commitment, and admiration. Discover which needs are most important to both you and your partner by each listing and ranking them in order of importance, then sharing your lists with each other. A

gree to make it a priority to meet each other’s needs, and discuss specific ways you would like each other to do so. Strive to become an expert on your partner’s emotional needs and how to meet them. Regularly evaluate your effectiveness and make whatever changes are needed to improve your skills. Make sure you’re meeting your partner’s needs in ways that are mutually enjoyable; don’t ever sacrifice your own feelings to meet your partner’s needs, but come up with creative solutions that benefit both of you.

The promise of protection. This promise says, “I promise to avoid being the source of your unhappiness – to avoid ‘Love Busters.’” Do your best to stay away from “Love Busters” – habits that destroy romantic love. Don’t make selfish demands, attempting to force your partner to do things that would benefit you at your partner’s expense. Instead, make requests while always keeping your partner’s feelings in mind, and thoughtfully negotiate. Don’t make disrespectful judgments, attempting to control your partner’s attitudes, beliefs, and behavior by trying to impose your way of thinking on him or her through lecturing, ridicule, threats, or other forceful means. Instead, strive to persuade your partner respectfully by working to create genuine consensus. Don’t burst out in anger, deliberately trying to hurt your partner either verbally or physically, because you’re angry. Instead, learn how to control your anger so it doesn’t control your marriage. Don’t be dishonest. Instead, fully reveal your thoughts, feelings, habits, like and dislikes, personal history, daily activities, and plans for the future to your partner. Never leave your partner with what you know is a false impression; make sure he or she has correct information about you. Let go of annoying habits – repeated behaviors that unintentionally cause your partner to be unhappy. Instead, intentionally replace them with behavior that is pleasant for both you and your partner. Don’t behave independently, planning and executing activities as if your partner doesn’t exist. Instead, make sure your decisions are mutually acceptable, and create an interdependent lifestyle. Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your partner.