A short video clip was trending recently where a beautiful bride, teary eyed, took matrimonial vows with her handsome groom. It was a lovely scene as expected, but something stood out as she recited the words of the vow in a manner not often heard of.
“…For better for worse, for richer for richer…”, she recited after the conducting minister and the congregation busted into a roar of cheerful laughter. It is normally recited as “for richer, for poorer”, so I was taken aback by why she and her husband chose to edit that line in a church marriage.
While this reviewed version, “for richer for richer”, appears to have a positive outlook to life, it may be setting the grounds for failure in a marriage as it is less pragmatic in the responsibility to drive a lifelong relationship. The commonly recited original vow has most of its origin taken from the Book of Common Prayer, “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.” There are many other vow templates which exists outside the church, but this altered version tends to work against what the Scripture and the teachings of Christianity propagate.
As marriage vows in the modern definition of it is mostly a product of Christian invention, it is only right to quote the scriptures in John 16:33, where Jesus himself examined the matter of avoiding tribulations;
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Therefore if Christians who claim to follow the teachings of Christ to the book are this zealous, why is it then an increasing trend to reject having any tribulation in the world? Who gave Christians the impression that they or their new family are immune to the difficulties other people face in the world? What was the origin of this bubble?
Would it be because no partner is ready to go through the thick and thin of a relationship that they are readily disposed to abandoning their significant other at the slightest sign of trouble? Are men ready to stick with their wives if she is unable to produce a child? Are most Nigerian women in the larger society ready to stick faithfully with their husbands if his finances takes a nosedive?
If the vow is not a more realistic approach to living, especially as concerns the governance of a home which is often a turbulent affair depending on the parties involved, then we may not be sure what reality is anymore.
One also wonders if Nigerians are bringing unnecessary superstition into vows by thinking that vowing to remain with someone even in tribulations is wishing trouble upon oneself. Afterall, our pastors and motivational speakers have taught us to speak positivity into our lives – to confess and wish victory into our lives.
Yes, there is huge power in positive thinking, but would we not be quick to forget anytime evil knocks and leaves a scar behind? Would this not be experiential dissonance?
It will be interesting to see how this alternate “For better for better” trend might be contributing to the climbing divorce rates we witness even in Nigeria nowadays. These days when many men marry women for their beauty and many women marry men for their wealth, God forbid evil strikes and the beauty fades and the money pool drains up, they quickly lose the passionate sparks which formed the foundations of their relationship. This is why thinking everything will be smooth throughout a relationship is pure fantasy. Even Tai Solarin the sage, of blessed memory, once said “May your road be rough.”
Perhaps it is safe to say that if marriage vows are no longer valid to some, maybe the whole ceremony of taking marriage vows should then done with altogether.