One of the greatest institutions of our western society, for me, is that of marriage. I have been fortunate to have not only grown up with great examples in my immediate family of healthy marriages, but I have been blessed with the best in my own.
I confess to being something of a romantic and, as a result, enjoy the occasional dip into the reality TV show “Say yes to the dress”. Apart from the fascination with some of the budgets for wedding dresses, Darling finds the show a little too much for him, leaving me to drift off into a world of tulle and lace…!
There is an element of gushy-ness that I am not the biggest fan of but I guess that it is all about the show of television, etc. So, I get it. I am especially cynical when it comes to the bride-to-be, giving the viewers a little insight into her fiance – always the “love of her life”, “soulmate”, “man of her dreams”, add on any romantic, loving cliches and you’ll be bang on the money!
Taking my rose-tinted specs off and swapping them for the yellower shades… it is when their marriage vows are made at the wedding that really got me thinking about the enormity of these sacred promises.
We all know that us humans, as fallible as we are, are prone to falling into temptation and all that results from that, so ultimately these vows are sort of asking to be broken, right?
My view is that these vows are made at the wrong time of our lives and within the wrong romantic mindset, leading some into the disasters and devastation of broken vows.
“I, (insert name) take you, (insert name) to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife/spouse.
To have and to hold
From this day forward
For better or worse
For richer for poorer
In sickness and in health
Until death do us part.”
At the most in-love stage of one’s life, these promises are the easiest to keep as every single one of them is literally unimaginable to live without the other, no matter the circumstances.
Now that we have been married for 28 years, for which we are abundantly blessed, I am learning the true depth of these love-filled and heartfelt promises. Made all the more poignant from the aspect of my work with the elderly.
To have and to hold is not always possible, for some the “death do us part” comes far too early, for others it is a physical in-ability to actually be able to embrace one another.
For better or worse may seem the easiest of the vows because we are all apt to having cranky and cheerful days, something fairly easy to overlook, when it’s the former.
For richer or for poorer is a little tougher. The manner in which financial ruin is met is often at the expense of the other party, in the event that there has been secret-keeping, deception and lies. The true test is for the deluded partner to be able to forgive and move on into supporting the rebuilding of material wealth.
However, when “the money runs out” literally, with lavish lifestyles and over extravagant living above one’s means and then the spouse feels “betrayed” and throws in the towel, that is a different level of deception and a moral judgment that I don’t wish to embroil myself in with this more lighthearted blog post.
Suffice to say that as a partnership/team, one’s finances are best kept completely transparent, in order to avoid resentment, deception and betrayal calling time on the lifelong union of marriage, in which these matters of “worldly goods” are required to be shared.
In sickness and in health is the one that is possibly the most glaring, from my vantage point.
I see this vow in play with each of my beloved clients, each day of the week. Some a little more gracefully than others, depending on the level of stress, anxiety and fear for the ailing spouse.
It is with this in mind that I ponder the alter-declaration of undying love for one another, when looking more gorgeously vital and as far removed from the frailties of poor health and old age?! When in the prime of one’s life, an accident or surgery seems easily surmountable, especially with the strength of youth and the dedicated attention of a young spouse to see one through to restored health. It is quite another matter when faced with an incurable, dread disease that slowly erodes the very essence of the person to whom you made the promise, many years prior. This is the true testing of love, commitment and selfless dedication.
It is certainly not all doom & gloom, thankfully! There are many wonderful examples of the most incredible spouses who go way beyond what appears to be humanly possible, to care for their beloved. My heart is truly in awe of some of my own friends and clients, from whom I learn, every day, just how to love unconditionally as they live out the toughest of the sacred marriage vows.
A true insight into “the greatest of all of these gifts, is LOVE.” Corinthians 13:13.