Monday, May 2, 2011

A Sad State of Affairs

Those traditional wedding vows can be pesky little fellows: For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Love, comfort, honor, blah blah blah. Till death do us part. (Or, in my case, for eternity).

So demanding, aren't they? Where is the fun in those?

Wouldn't it be nicer if the officiant stood up and said, "(Handsome, Sunkissed, Bleached-tooth Underwear Model), do you take (Size Zero Barbie Doll) to be your lawfully wedded wife? To love, comfort, and honor her as long as long as she has money and beauty and no physical conditions that would interfere with your sex life? And as long as she doesn't leave the toothpaste cap on the counter or forget to have your dry-cleaning picked up on Tuesdays? Also, no stretch marks."

(HSBUM): "I do."

Officiant: "And do you (SZBD) take (HSBUM) to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love, comfort, and honor him, and make him smoothies every morning, and never screw up his DVR recordings of the World Series, till death do you part unless he gets paralyzed, ill, or mentally incapacitated? Or if you are bored, lonely, or tired of washing his socks?"

(SZBD): "I do."

Officiant: "I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride."

Ah, the stuff of fairy tales.

Honestly, for all the value people place on their marital vows these days, that is what the officiant might as well be saying.

Take, for example, the inimitable advice of Margo Howard in response to RN in Love's romantic quandary:

Dear Margo: Is an affair always wrong? I am close to a man whose wife has been in a nursing home for seven years. She has had MS for 30 years (diagnosed at 25 years old) and is physically dependent for everything. Mentally, she can carry on a conversation but is very forgetful. I was her nurse for five years, but I have not taken care of her for the past two.

In those two years, I have become close with her husband. Recently, he told me he loves me, and I feel the same — for the first time in my life. I am single, and we are middle-aged people who have both been alone for many years. I don't think he would ever divorce her, and I don't want him to. Neither of us wants to hurt her. Are we wrong to have these feelings and to act on them, especially since I was his wife's nurse? — RN in Love

Margo responds:

Dear R: I do not think the way you met your love colors the situation ... and, in fact, the way you met is not all that uncommon. I do not regard your relationship as an affair, in the accepted sense, but rather, a love affair. This man's wife is sick enough to require institutional care and can in no way be a wife. There are some spouses, granted, who could not entertain the idea of a romance while a legal spouse was still alive, but I know of many more people who have done it your way. And I see nothing wrong with it. Happiness is hard enough to find. I suggest you accept yours with an open heart. — Margo, guiltlessly

See, I told you those health-only marriage vows would come in handy...

Lest you are heartened by thinking such a debased, disgusting attitude is an anomaly, behold, a father who divorced his wife after she was left brain-damaged during delivery of their triplets (and then tried to withhold visitation rights from her).

Doesn't anyone have any shame anymore?

Ugh. Don't answer that.


lori said...

I'd like to know if, since the mother was left brain-damaged during the birth of the children, the father named them. If so, the father should be denied custody. Esti? Ruevi? Yossi? Those are not the names of children, but delicious cookies one can only get when traveling abroad.

Sara said...

I am continually amazed at the growing popularity of the sentiment "you deserve better, get out and spread your wings" sentiment so freely tossed about when life gets in the way of romance.

It makes me sad - we don't even honor the basic contracts we enter into anymore, so I don't know why it doesn't surprise me that we no longer honor the big ones either.