For better, for worse: Exploring commitment & attitude in marriage

In this series, I have been exploring.

Where do they come from?

What is their meaning?

Is the meaning still relevant to us today in the context of any relationship?

In this last installment, I explore the final words uttered before “I do” – “Till death do us part”.

Continuing on with my series on traditional marriage vows and the relevance to us today, their meaning and their application –

Where do they come from?

What is their meaning?

Is the meaning still relevant to us today in the context of any relationship?

This week I am exploring the section that promises ‘For better, for worse’… Hand in hand with this goes:

For richer, for poorer
In sickness and in health

These words are important because they highlight a principle that underpins a large reason people tend their marriages – times get hard. Marriage gets hard. Marriage becomes undesirable. The waves hit. The tough times start, and there really aren’t enough savings in the marital bank to carry the marriage through to better times.

The day we make the vow to care for our spouse under the above-mentioned circumstances, we acknowledge that times will not always be easy. We don’t go into it blind, so we’re aware that hard times may arise, but we don’t necessarily know how to weather them when they do.

Let’s focus first on the “richer, poorer” bit.

Money issues, like mismanagement, recklessness, and no real budget or financial plan, can lead to many problems within a relationship. It’s not something that can be undervalued or overlooked. So, when we pledge these words we promise to love one another the exact same no matter the financial situation.

This pledge needs to include some kind of plan for ‘richer’, and a contingency for ‘poorer’. Having a laissez-faire outlook on finances is simply asking for trouble.

So my advice? Plan, from day 1, what the financial part of the relationship will look like. Who pays for what, how much do we allocate to savings, what is our retirement plan, and what are our respective career goals. Try and explore any risks that may crop up and have a rainy day savings fund. Be prepared.  Never be afraid to seek assistance from a professional when it comes to financial management.

“In sickness and in health”  – I like to think of this vow as really practical – be healthy together, look out for one another’s physical and mental health – exercise together, all that stuff. But, when your partner falls ill, be there, physically. Take care of them. Bring them meals in bed, get the meds, bring them flowers, treats, whatever your partners will find supportive. But make that effort to comfort your partner.

As we age, these words start to take on more meaning, and they become ever harder to fulfill. Do it because you’d like it to be done for you. Do it, because you promised.

The broad scheme encapsulated by all these vows is basically don’t give when it’s hard.

Whether the storms together. Mostly it’s just a thing, temporary, and once overcome, it’s a feather in the cap of the relationship, it’s something that brings you closer together, and it’s something to learn from for next time issues arise. Because they will.

The same essence is incorporated into all three parts, so I think it’s safe to expect many, different hardships, rather than just one or two. Seems almost every contingency is kind of accounted for in these words – don’t be surprised if these, and others, crop up in the course of your relationship.

Remember what you promised, even when the why becomes unclear. It’s a commitment, not a convenience.

It’s easy to love someone when things are easy. But what does that love really mean if it doesn’t shine all the more in difficult times?

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