Thursday, August 19

Vow - What It Really Means

I'm not just going to tell you that the dictionary defines vow as "the words said when making a formal pledge." I'm not only going to mention that the origin of the word one refers to one who makes a sacrifice, or list the synonyms of vow being oath, promise, and guarantee. Instead, I want you to think of times you've heard the word actually used.

Probably only on special occasions, right? Like wedding ceremonies.

When you utter those words, "I solemnly swear" or some variation thereof, it may seem romantic and meaningful then. But what about later? When do you get to take back your vow?

You don't.
Image courtesy of Boykung/
That's the very nature of a vow. The whole point is that you are promising that you are going to do what you're claiming you will... no matter what. If you vow to love someone and stick with them no matter what happens, then that's what you do as long as you're alive/able to fulfill your vow. In Biblical times, intentionally breaking a vow often received a punishment of death. Throughout history, dissolution of wedding vows was only acceptable if one mate committed adultery or of course, if one died.

We live in very different times.

Now we live in an era when breaking a vow is actually more common than taking one seriously. Today reasons for divorce are so trivial that it would be laughable if it weren't so sad. So what happens when you marry someone who appears to be perfectly healthy but they develop or are diagnosed with a chronic illness? Are you allowed to break the vow you made to stand by them in sickness and in health? Are you obligated to care for them forever? Consider a few examples:

Recently featured on a segment of 20/20 on ABC, Trish and Matt have been married for 13 years. When asked why she didn't consider leaving her husband, who developed narcolepsy and cataplexy during their marriage, Trish proudly stated: "I happen to love this guy." You can view their story HERE.

For Corey, who blogs about being a good husband, when people tell him he's brave for marrying a woman he knew was chronically ill, he says, "It's not really a bravery thing, it's a love thing."

For me, it's a no-brainer. I promised to try to be a good wife and love my husband come what may. Well, may has come and I'm not going anywhere.


  1. When my husband and I were married, I had only the diagnosis of Lupu-the narcolepsy dx came later. I always kid him that he should've taken out a warranty or something, but I'm usually only half joking...I hate feeling like I bait and switched him. But he's in it for the long haul and I'm blessed beyond belief that he is. You're right, vows are way too disposable these days........

  2. Ha! A warranty huh? Is that different from a pre-nup? :oP

    Disposable Vows - sounds like a lifetime movie.

  3. " sickness and in health..."

    That line keeps going through my head lately. I have Nw/C but the man I married has bipolar disorder (yeah, things are fun at our house). I knew he was rather quirky, but I liked that about him. It wasn't until after we married that the full extent of his illness was revealed. Three and a half years after we got married, he ended up going into full psychosis and had to be hospitalized. That's when he was finally diagnosed.

    Things since have gone from good to bad to worse to worst and, now, somehow, we've made it back to good again. There have been times when I really did not think I could take any more. But then I realize that his problems are no more self-controllable than my own and that he's *suffering* from an illness just as I am.

    Yeah, I think if we can manage to put up with one another, it'll be worth it in the end. At least we'll have some interesting stories to tell :-)

  4. :o) What a great attitude... two people living with a chronic illness cannot be easy, but hopefully you can empathize with each other.

    People always seem to think that marriage is constant but it isn't. It fluctuates, has ups and downs, highs and lows, and is sometimes steady. Kudos to you for hanging on for the duration of the ride! That's what I'm trying to do too...