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For Better Or Worse: Are Wedding Vows Truly Forever?

In Western culture, a marriage is considered a lifelong commitment … for better or worse. In India though, we have taken it to the next level, where the bond is expected to transcend lifetimes, ‘saat janam ke liye.’ But the reality is, we live in complex times and it’s hard finding a space to help you keep your sanity above all else, let alone taking on a commitment of being together not just in this lifetime, but across 7 lifetimes.

If all the new age gurus are to be believed, to be happy, you first need to find your sense of self. If that is the case, where does a partner come in? While I am personally happy and single, over the last decade, I have seen the very fabric of marriage crumble around me. Some for asinine reasons, some because of infidelity, and still others for deeper problems, with the ‘worse’ aspect the marriage vows coming to the fore more than the ‘better’ part.

woman anguished

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Recently, I came across a dilemma so deep, that I believe it to be a dilemma of the soul. This is when your partner is no longer a companion but someone who ‘needs you’ because of a debilitating physical or mental illness. A journey that nothing or no one can prepare you for.

I share this as I have someone dear to me in a situation I cannot even imagine. His partner, the love of his life, high school sweetheart, started showing signs of schizophrenia.

Suggested read: Why I stayed in an emotionally abusive relationship

After several years of looking after her, the situation just couldn’t be controlled. The ‘worse’ took its toll on him, with guilt overwhelming him. While he struggled to manage the finances, the household, their child, his health and her health… his partner changed from companion to a responsibility, a burden, in essence. He couldn’t have possibly felt more alone, and at the same time lonely. He had to take the decision to either pick up and leave to keep his sanity and to protect his child, or live with the burden of putting her in a home amidst strangers.

woman thinking

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As a rational person, I can’t help but wonder if the part of the vows for better or worse even practical. When in a situation like this, where is the line between humanity and sanity? How do you find the strength to keep your wits about yourself, find balance to prioritize yourself, your child, and your partner’s life. To live each day without respite, constantly looking after another person.

Many people might offer a seemingly simplistic solution of finding a permanent caregiver, which is easier said than done. What about the emotional turmoil, the financial turmoil, the abject sense of loneliness, the stress of juggling so many things? The problem is, this situation is like a choice between ‘the devil and the deep blue sea,’ really between altruism and incarceration (sometimes).

woman contemplating

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

I was reading a statistic that is alarming. Today, 60 million Indians suffer from Severe Mental Disorders and Common Disorders and Common Mental Disorders, which means one in two Indians today has a mental illness. (Source: National Mental Health Program, M0HFW, GOI)

As a society, we also need to pull up our socks and play our part. We should reserve our judgment and try to be supportive of everyone involved, because truly, there are only victims here. As a mere observer, the situation seems unbelievably hard… So, I am sure none of us can fathom the pain, fear, heart-breaking sense of loss that people in such a situation face. There is truly no right or wrong in a situation like this, but more about your own breaking point. Rather than death, vows should be revised to when ‘personal sense of well-being is compromised’ does us part.

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Article Name
For Better Or Worse: Are Wedding Vows Truly Forever?
The wedding vows invariably puts the part about 'for better or worse,' which is not practical in today's day and age.
Nitika Goel

Nitika Goel

I give gyan for a living (read: management consultant), but creative pursuits are what get me going. I do my best thinking while I am talking, and needless to say, I am 'thinking' constantly. I love traveling, classic literature, M&B romances, masala and quirky movies, and good food. Believe in William Blake's quote "To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour."