… for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health …
No prize for guessing the source of these words. Their significance is that they form part of the promises many men and women have made in marriage. These are not words of explanation – they are a serious commitment.
As I was pondering them today, I realised something that I did not quite grasp when I made my promise, nearly 20 years ago.
But first, something I did know. Take ‘sickness and health’, for instance. I knew my promise was that an unwell Catherine is no excuse to love her less, and that a healthy wife would be no reason to neglect her ‘because she’s doing OK.’ On the other hand, I am thankful for Catherine’s promise to love me in any physical state, healthy or suffering. What a reassurance!
This is what I have (finally) understood: the promise also applies to my love for Catherine when I am the sick or healthy one. And that’s not only physical health/illness. It even includes this: ‘When my love for you is sick and weak, my promise is to love you instead of giving up.’ When I am afflicted by selfishness or evil and couldn’t be bothered to love, I will keep on in love.
This is my solemn vow and promise.