“For better or for worse.”
It’s probably the most widely used phrase exchanged in wedding ceremonies.
And I have a problem with it.
I’m all for making a commitment to the person I love.
And I’m all for loyalty.
And I’ll tell you a secret: When I love someone, I love them forever – and that love is unconditional.
But I don’t have a relationship in the world that is unconditional.
Let me repeat myself: I can love you unconditionally, but I will not be in a relationship with you unconditionally.
I have standards for the relationships I’m in.
For me, it depends on what causes the ‘or worse’ part.
Sickness? I’m there.
Going broke? I can shrink my lifestyle down to nothing. And I’ll work like a dog to help us recover.
But if I married you, it’s because at the time that I agreed to marry you, you made me happy.
You spoke to me with respect and love.
You courted me, dated me, seduced me, and worked for my love.
You kept things interesting, exciting, and romantic.
You took pride in your appearance.
You noticed mine.
You had your own interests – your own life. And you encouraged me to have mine.
You showed an interest in my day’s events.
I expect you to try if I’m married to you. Just like you did in the beginning.
Alright – maybe not exactly as you did in the beginning, but some approximation thereof.
I worry that ‘for better or worse’ is a recipe for apathy, for laziness, for taking one’s partner for granted.
I worry that when we promise for better or worse, there’s no incentive to work on our relationship; to be mindful of the way we treat each other.
And then, if in response to their partner turning into Donald Trump, one person considers exiting the relationship, that person’s accused of being disloyal – of going back on their vow.
Maybe the issue is that the vow sucked in the first place.
Perhaps instead of promising that we’ll remain in a relationship without any conditions, we should list what we promise to do to keep them happy, in love, and excited, forever.
Sure, we can put the shit about in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer – those are scenarios that are generally outside of our control….
Unless you’re sick because you’re a heroin addict, and I’m poor because I’ve paid for you to be in rehab 3 times and you keep going AWOL, and you’ve smoked and snorted all of my savings.
Under those circumstances, or circumstances where you morph into a shadow of your former self, I reserve the right to revisit my commitment to you – in all of my relationships.