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For Better, For Worse

What if right now is your “worse?”

This is the question I often ask many clients coming to see me for marriage counseling.

Most of these clients (like many of you reading) have directly and even enthusiastically accepted the “for better, for worse” vow on their wedding days however many years ago. An undeniably beautiful vow, while looking into their partner’s loving black-suit-and-tie/pure-glowing-white gaze and holding onto soft, yet securing, hands. Magical words sounding all-too-easy to conquer while standing in a picture-perfect church, or on a fairytale-sandy beach, surrounded by the most beautiful flowers and impeccably “done-up” (and smiling) relatives and friends.

It is here in this moment that the farthest thing from anyone’s mind is the “worse.”

So what if this vow was to be taken in your current living room? His shoes stacked in a cluttered mess at the foot of the front door, or her unfolded laundry tossed in a pile on your favorite chair. The TV playing a series of her DVR’d Kardashian episodes, or his mind-numbing sports bloopers.

What if it was taken in the kitchen? Really think about it. Holding hands next to a sink full of dirty dishes that he claims need “soaking,” and right near the refrigerator door she fails to ever close fully, with the aroma of spoiled meats and vegetables in the air. What about having your first kiss as a married couple while leaning over the fully-stacked and rancid garbage-pale that’s about to topple over?

Would we do it? Could we ever accept this vow? What about immediately after the in-laws had just shown up for the 37th time unannounced? His mother endlessly criticizing your “working too much” while wearing those same outdated and ripped up sandals she refuses to throw out, or her father always and obnoxiously trying to rope you into the disorganized and barely-afloat family business?

How about slipping that ring on her finger with the baby’s vomit pouring down that beautiful lace gown, or right after he just called you a nagging [bleep] for the tenth time?

And yes, you may have still made it to the altar after years of already living in such messy imperfections with one another, but still, you have to admit that those imperfections are conveniently tucked away at that very classic “for better, for worse” moment. The perfectly-dressed, excitedly-happy, romantically-gazing person facing toward you, fully-attentive, completely on the same page, is so wonderfully-easy to commit your all to. Of course!

It’s a terrible truth, but we humans certainly love our traditions. So much that we may be inclined to believe what we want to believe, hear what we want to hear, and say what we have to say in order to keep these traditions alive. “For better, for worse”… it’s what you say! Anything to bring on the champagne and honeymoon with the love of your life.

Slowing this moment down and really giving it some thought just might ruin it. It’s a promise to love and support one another, not only forever, but throughout each and every obstacle life has in store. Every infuriating