Calamity Jennye

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately about the vows I took on my wedding day. I don't know what got me started in that direction but it's been on my mind. I guess it could be that it's less than a month till my anniversary, or it could be seeing a friend struggle through his own anniversary.
In any case.
For better or for worse keeps circling through my mind like the most painful treadmill I've ever encountered, one of those ones that tilts up higher than any hill you've ever attempted in real life.
I've struggled with almost every aspect of the last 6 months of my life. But I really have had a hard time figuring out why I'm not comletely happy to walk away from my marriage.
I feel sure I should be happy to be getting out. I know I'm lucky to be figuring these things out now rather than even later than now.

But really, often, I'm not.
I'm not skipping off gleefully through some field of blooming flowers (that's what I feel like I should be doing). Instead I'm still battling with myself, it often feels like one of those angel on one shoulder demon on the other moments.
Perhaps it's because I don't give up on anything, ever.

But all I can think of are those vows:
"Will you have this woman to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?"
This is the first section of the marriage ceremony where you declare your consent to marry. It's that part in the middle that gets me these days "forsaking all others" defined as "renounce or give up". Both very active words.
Your choice to marry that person on that day will require action! at a future date. The action of not choosing someone else (perhaps even 50 someone roses). someone who seems intriguing, easy, or perhaps even perfect.

Then there's the actual vows:
"In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my husband, 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, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

This is the part I really struggle with...I vowed, for better or for worse. Yes, I am confident this is worse. But I stood there and promised to take this on. Promised to weather the worse and not leave. Granted I can admit I've weathered a lot of worse in this marriage, but that's not the point. How do I walk away when I stood there, in front of everyone who mattered to me and said "bring it on!"

I've talked about feeling like a failure for where we're at in our marriage, but I think it's even more than that. This is a serious body blow to my pride. The main problem is that I expected some body blows, stood there, in two different churches in front of our community, and God and said I will weather the storm.

I know some of you have been here, know right where I am, how did you work through this? How do you reconcile it to yourself, how do you know when bad is bad enough that it's okay to walk away? If you have no idea but know someone who does...send them my way. I really need some help on this one!
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  1. Sigh. I'm really sorry that you're having to wrestle with this. But, here is my .02.

    Your understanding of your vows is completely in line with mine (and,I think, their intent) Your expectation that things would be difficult, or even seem impossible someday goes to show your understanding, from the very beginning, what you were committing to.

    I think that commitment holds a promise of forgiveness, or at least a promise to TRY to forgive whatever it is that causes the "worse". But, you can only forgive someone that wants to be forgiven. Likewise you can fight for something, but only for so long if nobody is fighting with you.

    You asked “How do I walk away when I stood there, in front of everyone who mattered to me and said "bring it on!" You’ve honored your vows as much one person in a two-person relationship can. You’ve not taken the thought of walking away lightly. While it may be a disappointment, it is not a failure. I think this is where you need to extend your willingness to forgive to yourself. -ME

  2. You forget that while you obeyed, struggled with and accepted your vows, you were NOT the one who broke them. Adultry is not easily forgiven, especially when the adulterer does not see anything wrong with what he's done, nor has he ceased doing it. Walking away from a marriage is not easy, but becoming someone we are not meant to be, loosing who we are and what we value (both in heart and spirit)and sacraficing all that we believe in is not what God, community, friends nor family ever want for those they love. Soul searching is the most difficult part, and sometimes we find answers we are not looking for ... but you have to accept those answers, good or bad. The "failure" of your marriage is not necessarily a failure at all. After all, you have a beautiful daughter, and you have learned alot ... about yourself, your friends and all those who love you. Hold your good days close, they help you get through the bad ones!! S-I-L

  3. Take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute no more no less.

  4. I’ve never been in your situation so this is an outsider looking in, but those vows can’t be only held by one person. Even if you didn’t leave, would he? Didn’t he choose to leave, break his vows? You can’t hold up your part of the vows if the other person won’t be a part of the marriage. I guess the question is, do you actually have a choice?

  5. There is worse and that covers a lot of ground. Ground in which many people discover they are not up to what they vowed. Having read your blog, peeked between the lines a bit, and taken things with a bit of salt, I still don't think that's you.
    Because then there's the point past worse. We have trouble recognizing this point. It's the point where the marriage stops being, or when we realize it never was, a relationship and a partnership, about two people who both made vows. When this is true and you still stay you risk committing a far greater sin, one against yourself and, in your case, against your child. When you start wandering close to abuse. If it's not easy, it's because you meant your vows and that's a good thing. Don't feel bad about feeling bad.

  6. I guess my question is this: Is the mistake in taking such vows in the first place? As they are written, anyway? And I'm not saying you should take blame for that, but I think there is freedom in recognizing that there is a certain set-up/ historical connection with those vows and how traditional relationships have been viewed.

    Maybe I'm not being clear.

    Okay- let me try again- for example....there was a time in the history of the church where church authority would tell a woman with an abusive husband that she had to stay in the relationship "for better or for worse"- those are the vows she took to the church, to God, and to her husband and community.

    I'm using that as an extreme example to say that maybe the problem goes back to the vows in the first place, and maybe you need to ask whether or not you feel they are right, considering all the history and tradition they are connected to. If you do, then you can re-ask your questions. But I think there might be some freedom in recognizing the complexity of a seemingly simple series of statements.

  7. And I don't really know. I'm just asking.

    I just got Committed, because I saw that you were reading it, and I hope to read it, too.