As Long As We Both Shall Live

Earlier this week, a bit of a discussion broke out in the comments about wedding vows. A reader said:

Has anyone else wondered whether the statistics on divorce mean that it simply doesn’t make sense to use the bloodcurdling bits of marriage vows, like ’til death do us part’ or ‘as long as we both shall live’? If one only has a 60% chance of making it,* it seems almost like perjuring yourself from the beginning.

And let’s just say it’s been the kind of week that has made me think about this comment. A lot.

Now, I’m not very traditional on most things wedding related, but I am traditional on a few. I’ll encourage you to take a honeymoon of some sort right after the wedding (you’ll need it!), try to get laid on your wedding night (you deserve it!), and not get married until you are 110% sure that you want to stay with this person till the day you die. Now, that doesn’t mean that I think divorce should never be an option; as my Rabbi pointed out in our pre-marital counseling, “Sometimes divorce is a mitzvah.” But I think that if you’re not sure that this is the person you want to grow old with – well, you should slow down until you are sure. Which is part of the reason that I have so much respect for women who called off their weddings, and were brave enough to tell the tale.

To me, the part of the wedding where you promise to stay with this person until you die – that is the most beautiful part. It’s not shiny and fun, and no matter how many rose petals you dump on it, it’s not pretty. But it is beautiful, in a gut wrenching and real kind of way. It’s why I think so many of us end up feeling wrecked and overwhelmed as we walk back down the asile. It’s why the wedding ceremony is so damn huge.

Which brings me back to this week. This week friends of ours had a baby. This week, I talked to a bunch of other friends about pregnancy, new motherhood, and conception – about being wives and women and mothers – the big stuff. This week, I found out the husband of a friend was battling Leukemia. No, let me correct that, the husband of a smart, wise, strong, funny, amazing friend was battling Leukemia. Which makes you want to throw things at walls and scream. Or pray. Or both, alternating. They are young, they have been married only a few years, and now this? F*CK.

And all that reminded me of what all of this is about. It’s about promising to be each others family. It’s about being there through all the births, the infertility, the parenthood. Being there through all the illnesses, the hospitalisations, the tests, the fear, and the pain. It’s about being there until we die. It’s about putting each other into the ground.

It’s that simple and it’s that difficult, and it’s that huge. This week reminded me of that, hard and fast. It reminded me that it’s not all pretty and happy, that it’s much more than that. And that’s the whole point.

*As Sarah noted, this statstic isn’t really accurate, “The divorce rate isn’t 60%, it’s closer to 40-50 percent for the general population, but even this statistic is not particularly accurate. The book, “For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage,” by Tara Parker-Pope, examines the statistic and really breaks it down. You might want to check it out (or at least the first chapter, which gives a good overview).”

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