Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Promises promises

Do people take their wedding vows seriously? Do they honestly intend to stay with their spouse through thick and thin, through hell and high water, through the grimmest of circumstances? Or do they make that promise a bit tongue-in-cheek, not really meaning it? Like you agree to the terms and conditions on an insurance policy, without actually reading them?

I don't recall what wedding vows Jenny and I used. I don't remember us writing our own vows, so I think we must have used the traditional ones, which go something like this:

"I, whoever, take thee, whoever, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part."

But since around 40 per cent of marriages end in divorce, clearly in practice everyone has their particular limits, and what one person will happily tolerate will drive another to pack their bags.

Whatever their wedding vows, people may be unable to cope with their partner getting a nasty illness, becoming an alcoholic, being work-obsessed, being a total slob, joining some weird cult, or sleeping around. And you wouldn't expect anyone to put up with ongoing violence or cruelty or gaslighting.

I doubt many spouses really believe they should tolerate absolutely anything, however distressing or humiliating. I suppose the wedding vows are still very much a puritanical hangover from the days when wives were expected to endure whatever their husbands inflicted on them.

Jenny and I have never had our pledge of loyalty put to a serious test - certainly none of the things I just mentioned. How would we cope if one of us got a dreadful illness, or turned into a pugnacious bully? Hard to say unless it actually happened.

Only a saint could adhere faithfully to the wedding vows. And not many of us are saints.


  1. a timely blog( for me)
    I was going to comment further
    But can't

  2. You made a fair case for not making vows. Or, as I call it "promises you may be sorely put to the test to keep". However, and to be benign, let's not forget that human hope and optimism triumph over a future we do not know. So, with careless abandon, good intentions and little thought we do make those promises with an almost childlike innocence and belief.

    I was once married to a man who, to this day, judges others harshly over not keeping even the most harmless of "promises". I don't have the heart to point out to him "people in glasshouses" and all that. We split amicably as, to me, it was clear that our time as a couple was up; I didn't hold him to any promises and he thanked me, profusely, for how graciously, without any fuss, I "released" him from all the promises he merrily swore to at the altar. We managed to stay friends for a long time, something I was determined about for the sake of the father son relationship. And that has paid off.

    As an aside, and please do correct me if I am wrong (and I don't mention by way of questioning how devoted you and Jenny are to each other) but didn't you say that a large part of the reason you two got hitched was for practical (financial) reasons? Nothing wrong with that but also does render any more emphemeral "promises" obsolete.

    Other than that, Nick, thanks for engaging with me again. I do appreciate it. And (joke alert) you and I never even entered a "contract" or made any promises to each other.

    Through sick and sin,

  3. That could also read "through Thick and Thin" considering that I believe both of us being pretty slender. Apologies for any spelling mistakes (ephemeral et al) - that comes from being vaguely distracted ... and good intentions.