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What does in sickness and in health really mean?

 

 

At some point, you would probably hear “do you take this person in sickness and in health?”

Most people who hear the words “in sickness and in health” are going to think of a wedding ceremony. This phrase is commonly used as two people elect to join together civilly and lawfully. Is there something more to this statement than a nice thought to start out a marriage?

Dream Wedding

Imagine this: you are sitting with a friend in a beautiful outdoor venue. The sky is a blue with only wisps of clouds passing by. There are rows of folding chairs covered in white and a long white runner spanning the length of the walk between the chairs. You look ahead and see a lovely arch decorated with green vines and white roses. Underneath it stands a nicely dressed officiator and a grinning man dressed in his best.  Music flows softly from behind you as several little girls walk towards the arch sprinkling rose petals. They are followed by a woman in a glorious white dress who meets the others under the arch. The officiator welcomes you to this event. You are celebrating a marriage today.

At some point, you would probably hear “do you take this person in sickness and in health?” Most people who hear the words “in sickness and in health” are going to think of a wedding ceremony. This phrase is commonly used as two people elect to join together civilly and lawfully. Is there something more to this statement than a nice thought to start out a marriage?

In Sickness

Two people are choosing to take care of one another for life. Before marriage, many of us are dating for some length of time. Dating is fun and wonderful because it is filled with the best of the best. You go out to eat, you go for romantic walks or do fun activities like paintball, dancing or going to movie theaters. Dating, however, gives an unrealistic view of how marriage is going to be. If we think marriage is going to be all fun and romance every day, then we will be disappointed at the very least. “In sickness” means more than if your spouse has a cold. It symbolizes the trials, the challenges, and difficulties that couples face.

I don’t know any couple who hasn’t had challenges. The truth is, even when we marry our best friends, we are going to experience moments when we feel alone. We are going to get impatient when the house is a mess, when there is dinner to be cooked and the kids are fighting. We will all carelessly hurt our spouse’s feelings and they will hurt ours. Those challenges can be painful, but we don’t get married just to turn around and give up on it when the waters get rough.

I've Been Robbed?

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley understood this truth He once quoted the columnist Jenkins Lloyd Jones in one of his discourses. He said:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old-time rail journey … delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” (Address given to Religious Educators, Sept. 1978, p. 4.) 1

The second half of that statement is “in health”. This part represents the good times, the joyful times, those moments which have hearts bursting with gladness. There are times of fun, of laughter, when dinner turns out perfect and the kids are working together and happy. Yes, physical health is certainly something to be grateful for but in this context, it means the best days.

I know those “in sickness” kinds of days. I also know the other side. We are so blessed to have families. Marriage is ordained of God, given to us to help us grow. All good things are going to stretch us, and marriage is no exception.

  1. Taken from a Q&A article on lds.org: “The Savior said that we should be perfect, even as He and our Father in Heaven are perfect. Are we expected to achieve perfection in this life? If so, how can I avoid becoming discouraged with myself as I try to achieve it?” Elder Gerald N. Lund, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, August 1986

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