Scallywag

The happiness of this life depends less on what befalls you than the way in which you take it.

~ Elbert Hubbard ~

For Better Or For Worse

June 13th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 19 secs

We're pretty good at the "for better" part. But what about the "or for worse" bit?

We’re pretty good at the “for better” part. But what about the “or for worse” bit?

When you commit it really is “for better or for worse”. Or perhaps, more realistically, for both. Because marriage is guaranteed to be a bumpy ride.

I get the impression many modern views about marriage are distorted. The “for better or for worse” bit somehow gets conveniently left out to create a magical atmosphere of high-hoped euphoria (despite it definitely having a limited shelf life).

Of course you can’t tell that to someone smitten by romantic love. They won’t believe you much less agree. In the full flight of impractical love, it’s hard to see anything objectively.

Which, of course is how nature intends it. The “for better or for worse” component of wedding vows feels more like an oath of love than signing on the bottom line. But that’s fine. Even with a clear head, who could possibly know all the roads ahead.

Another way of seeing the smitten stage is that it provides a necessary base to build on. Declaring your love to be for better or for worse might not hold the relationship together when the going gets tough. Yet it does start to cement couplehood with some semblance of future thinking.

Our challenge these days is that commitment isn’t what it used to be. Way back, a public declaration of dedication “for better or for worse” was matched with physical needs to stick together. With little support, children had to be raised and food obtained. Without the tag team support of a husband and wife working together children could die and couples themselves could perish. So marriage had a strong survival imperative. But not now.

Today, in an age of choices and plenty, you can manage apart. Breaking up can be excruciating and the pain will continue to be felt. But it is doable and people seem – externally at least – to move on and find new vistas. So what does that mean for vows of “for better or for worse”?

My guess is that marriage will keep changing and the idea that couples will remain together will continue to be eroded. Why? Because when the “…or worse” part comes (as it always does, married or otherwise), breaking up presents as an option.

Nowadays, couples need, if anything, to have an even deeper commitment than ever to stick together. That’s no mean feat and one that partners ought to give careful thought about. Though the “for better…” part of the marriage equation is as appealing as ever, I suspect we are becoming increasingly less willing to handle the alternative.

Despite this, I firmly believe in marriage, and I expect people will keep yearning to find the love of their life and enjoy a lifetime of relationship together. It’s just that now the vow “for better or for worse” seems more challenging. For those who want to be married, I would say, “Only those with more maturity need apply”.

Although marriage is a magnificent quest, it also brings our insecurities and immaturities home in ways we cannot escape. Meaning, if you can stand the heat, come on in. Because if you dare to face your own weaknesses full in the face, you are in for one of the greatest adventures life can ever bring. For better or for worse.

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