Marriage is for Better or for Worse

When two people wed, they typically exchange vows that say something to the effect of promising to be together for better and for worse, for richer or for poorer, in good times and bad, and so on. However, how many people really think about what that vow all entails? Of course we think about the ‘better’ and ‘richer’ and ‘good times,’ and that’s basically what we’re getting married for – all the good stuff, but many people fail to realize that you aren’t promising to stay together IF some bad stuff should possibly happen to you, you’re promising to stay together WHEN the bad stuff absolutely DOES happen to you, as it MOST CERTAINLY will. Nope, we just gloss right over that part. We think that the ‘bad stuff’ must happen to other people, maybe people that aren’t as ‘in love’ as we are, or maybe people who aren’t as smart or kind as we are. People from bad families, people from broken homes, people who aren’t trying hard enough. Well, that’s just a fantasy. In every marriage, some bad things WILL happen. That’s just all there is to it. There is absolutely no one on the planet that is immune from bad things. In many marriages, truly freak occurrences happen – the husband gets his arm caught in a machine at work and loses a hand, the wife is walking home from the grocery store and is just struck dead by a motorist, a 29-year old man drops dead from a heart attack, and so on. These are the things we cross our fingers and hope that they never happen to us. Actually, when those types of things happen, for the most part, people deal with them pretty well. It’s just that they’re so unusual that you recognize that you must really do some major changes to cope with them and many people rise to the occasion and handle these huge traumas with an amazing amount of grace and resilience. However, events of that severity really don’t happen that often. What happens on a more regular basis is that normal, predictable, uncontrollable bad things happen to people. For example, your company closes and you lose your job, the battery on your car dies and you are without a ride for several days, you put too many things in your calendar and neglect your fitness and gain weight, your parents die, you have some sort of surgery, and so on. These are normal, predictable, yet uncontrollable bad things that most certainly will happen to one spouse or the other at some point in a life-long marriage. It is exactly that type of thing that the marital vows are speaking to. That is, when we wed, we are promising to stay with our partner even if he loses his job and the family income dips very low for months on end. We are promising to love our partner even if she puts on 40 pounds. We are promising to love our partner and support him while his mother is in hospice care. We are vowing to love our partner and support her when she runs the car out of gas and must call to have you pick her up during an important event of yours. Those are the types of things that the vow addresses and we, as married partners, are often quick to forget that. We got married for the ‘better, richer, good’ parts and we just don’t care much for the ‘bad’ stuff. Too bad. That’s what you signed up for, the good AND the bad. You don’t get one without the other. That simply doesn’t happen. The people who leave ‘bad’ marriages in search of better ones are often just leaving the ‘bad’ circumstances that are going to happen no matter what you do and they are frequently disappointed to find out that their new relationship includes them too. So, in summary, although we marry for the good parts, the bad parts are inevitable and they are also part of the deal. You signed up for them when you stood at the alter and you need to honor your promises or the marriage is simply doomed to fail.

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