Continuing on with my series on marriage vows, their meaning and their application, 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 so important, because they highlight a principle that basically underpins the main reason people call it a day and throw in the towel – 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.
This links with a post I wrote a while back (https://www.abbygreen.co.za/money-money-money/), and it relates to the fact that money issues, like mismanagement, recklessness, 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. However, I don’t think it stops there – 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, what are out respective career goals… Try and explore any risks that may crop up and have a rainy day savings fund. Be prepared. Then, if times do take an impecunious turn, at least you were kind of prepared for it. Never be afraid to seek assistance from a professional when it comes to financial management.
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 it ‘man flu’ or something more severe (or less, depending on your outlook), be there, physically. Take care of them. Bring them meals in bed, get them meds, bring them flowers, treats, what ever. But make that effort to comfort this loved one in the most basic way.
Of course, as we age, these words start to take on more meaning, and they become ever harder to fulfill. Just do it though, even if it’s hard or you don’t feel like it. Do it because you promised you would, because it’s the right thing to do, 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 throw in the towel when it’s hard. Stick it out, weather the storm together. 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 really 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?