Love, honour and obey
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love is deep, the more I give to thee,
The more I have,
For both are infinite.
— Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2, 1
Can you imagine hearing those vows spoken to you at your wedding? What profound and absolutely beautiful lyrics. Whenever people get married they usually stand in the church facing each other before the parson and take sacred vows, promising to have and to hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, to love, honour and obey until death or debt, they do part.
They should be careful that their mouths do not issue cheques that they cannot cash, for I’m sure that many couples simply recite those words by rote, without giving serious meaning to them. This is based on the fact that so many marriages mash up after a few short years. Word is wind they say, and mout mek fi talk.
How could they speak those words in all seriousness, and within months do not even have a vague recollection of them? Many couples even pen their own vows, as they find the traditional ones too basic, staid, and boring.
Some women choose to omit the part about obeying, for they think that it’s not appropriate for their lifestyle.
“Obey, why? I’m not obeying any man, after I’m not a child.”
Others simply recite the old-time vows like they used to recite nursery rhymes or numerical tables without even giving it serious thought.
“Two times two is four, two times four is eight, two times eight is 16.”
If they ever stopped for a breath, they’d have to start over from the top, as they don’t really know the maths, but they sure do know the lilt of the timetable. The same applies to the wedding vows, they only recite them because it’s the expected thing to do, it’s tradition.
That’s where we’ll be going today, right after these responses to my take on ‘Sexual Miss Con Duck’. I must say here that this first response really moved me.
Greetings Maas Tony,
I enjoy your articles, and your footnote regarding the passing of your neighbour prompted me to send a note to you. Here’s an excerpt of your footnote.
‘Life can be so fleeting, unpredictable and capricious. About two weeks ago I exchanged pleasantries with my neighbour as he stood by his car. Within two hours he entered his house, sat on his couch and departed this life, sitting there as peaceful as can be.’
That is so surreal Maas Tony, so sorry to hear of his passing. I feel your pain, as it’s similar to my mom’s. She was at the bank on Tuesday, and died the next day. Take heart, as you had a chance to speak with him.
In many instances where there is sexual misconduct at the workplace, the aggressor is usually in the position of power. The victim does not report the crime out of fear of not being believed, or dismissed. It’s only when one victim decides to report the crime that others feel safe to come forward. As for romance at the workplace, I have no problem with that as long as it’s respectful and not harassment, free from the fear of assault. My office romance has led to many decades of marriage and still going.
A vow is supposed to be a commitment that people make with all intentions of keeping. Sometimes they are ominously negative and threatening, as when someone takes a sinister vow against another person.
“I swear, as long as I live, I vow to bring destruction upon you and your generation.”
That’s a vow that you’d rather not be kept. But let’s talk about happier more positive vows, like the ones taken at weddings. Do most couples really take them seriously, or as I mentioned earlier, merely say them to please parson and onlookers?
Can you really imagine a wedding ceremony without vows? I think not.
“Imagine, dem just married so-so suh without making any vows.”
So let’s take the first part about promising to love forever. Shouldn’t that have a caveat, such as ‘conditions apply’ How can someone promise to love another person forever? For all intents and purposes it certainly should be the intention, the goal, but for sure, there are so many mitigating circumstances that can put a spanner in the spokes of that wheel.
Just think back to how many people you have loved in your lifetime, only to fall out of love after a while. If you fall in love you can fall out too. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, for as you fall out of love with one it opens the door to fall in love with another. Just make sure that you don’t fall out of the frying pan into the fire, for that heat can be as hot as hell.
Maybe the vows should read, “I promise to love you as much as I can and hope that it will last.” See, that gives you a flexibility which is not binding.
Speaking of binding, it surely is nonsensical, hypocritical and ironic to recite vows about loving forever, yet having to sign a prenuptial agreement. If you love forever, then there should be no need to have a prenup, for everything is cast in concrete. See my point?
Some of us are fortunate to experience a mutual love that endures, but that’s not because of any vows. It could be the luck of the draw, perhaps fate, but whatever it is, those who experience it are fortunate. Ironically, some folks live together for years without vows, and as dem married suh, dollyhouse mash up.
Then comes the part about honour. What is honour anyway? Most young people nowadays don’t even know what that concept is and cannot relate to it. It means to hold in high esteem, to respect the person. The word honour is often included in wedding vows with the couple not knowing what it really means.
How many women hold their men in high esteem or even respect them? How many men continue to disrespect their wives by having other women with them? That must be the utmost disrespect, to have another woman behind your wife’s back or to have another man behind your husband’s back.
Well, maybe if it’s a one-time fling and you show respect by keeping it secret and quiet from your partner, it shows that you respect their feelings. Now, I’m not saying that it’s the right thing to do, but discretion is a form of respect.
“Honey, if I didn’t respect you I wouldn’t go to such pains to hide it from you.”
It’s when you flaunt it though, with no regard for the person to whom you uttered those vows, then that’s low. This often happens early in marriages, too, when the ink isn’t even dry on the vows. Maybe it should say, “I’ll honour you by not dashing any affair in your face.” Again, I’m not endorsing it, condoning it, or saying that you should go forth and do it, but only that you shouldn’t make vows that you cannot keep.
“Honey, I vow that if I ever guh a street, I respect you so much that I’d never let you find out.”
Now we come to the big one, that last word, obey. Maybe back in Bible days women used to obey men, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who’d agree to that vow in these modern times.
“Obey the man? After him is not mi father.”
Plus, why should a man want to hand down edicts, rules, regulations for his wife to obey anyway?
“Listen, I want you to cook my dinner, wash my clothes and have sex with me when I demand it; you must obey me unconditionally.” As you can see, that word has no place in the modern wife’s vocabulary and should not be in any wedding vows.
Plus, does the husband say it too, about having to obey his wife? Many husbands haven’t got to, but they constantly live it, for after a while they are as obedient to the wives as a peon is to his potentate.
“I want you to take out the garbage, cut the grass, pick up the kids, feed the dog, don’t stay out late, and don’t harass me for sex.”
“Yes, dear, anything you say dear.”
Do a poll and see who gives more orders, the husband or the wife.
Vows are serious commitments, and if you think that you can’t live up to them, you shouldn’t recite them. But if you can maintain them, you should tell them to your spouse every day, or as often as you can, just to remind the both of you that word is not wind.
Footnote: I have a problem with the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) that provides our power needs. I have written good things about it in the past, especially when former CEO Kelly Tomlin was here, as I admired her approach and method of operation. I do sympathise with the company’s efforts to stem the electricity theft that plagues the country. But Lord oh Lord, the JPS gone too bad now. It is shutting down payment outlets in high-density areas such as Portmore and St Thomas with very short notice, causing great hardship to thousands of customers. Then the light bills keep on climbing, even though you try to conserve. Consumers are reeling from the pressure. Real or imagined, the JPS is coming across as cold, unfeeling, uncaring and unsympathetic.
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