Wedding vows: ‘In sickness’ isn’t clear enough

Does anyone know what they’re in for when they get married? I blame the vague wedding vows. Instead of promising to remain true when our spouse is “in sickness” – which lets us imagine that occasionally we’ll be called on to coo sympathetically and serve up some canned chicken soup – why not speak the truth? “While you cry out in pain, I will squeeze the giant, suppurating cyst on your back until the pus stops oozing out.”

I’m thinking of a case with which I’m intimately aware – that of a close friend whose wife recently had to fulfil the vow I’ve suggested. The middle of my friend’s back looked like a full-sized Polish sausage was pushing out of it, and he couldn’t reach the spot to “pop the pimple,” as his doctor put it. His hitherto-unsuspecting wife was called on to massage the magma out of this inch-tall, two-inch wide volcanic mound, a duty she called “the grossest thing I’ve ever done.”

If that were my wife, I’d thank her sincerely and profusely, even though, when you get down to brass tacks, she would have signed up for the whole ordeal with her bland promise to hang with me “in sickness.” But then I’d have to wonder: what disgusting act will I get roped into when she grows ill?

Wouldn’t it be more fair to have a marital-vow checklist, so that our spouses don’t expect us  to perform acts that we find repugnant? “I will stand by you in sickness and in health, unless your sickness requires that I replace your shoulder in its socket, that I file your corns with my teeth, or that I rotate your eyeball into place.”


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