The Value of a Vow

Vows, oaths, contracts…all are standard ways to indicate that we promise certain things. How seriously do you take your commitments? Unbeknownst to me, courtesy of Women’s Health, I discovered that respect for vows is even less than I thought. In this case, the discussion involved vows of the marital variety:

With the U.S. divorce rate hovering around 50 percent, it’s not unreasonable to assume that half the husbands in America will be back on the market eventually. And a number of studies have shown that about half of all married men and women have cheated.

These stats may explain why we no longer instantly brand any and all mate poachers as devil spawn and why so many women are willing to compromise other people’s commitments. As a culture, we understand that relationships are complicated and change over time. “We no longer expect most marriages to last a lifetime,” Kirshenbaum says, “so when a woman gets involved with a married man or vice versa, it doesn’t shock us the way it used to.” We almost expect it.

I’m curious…do you think that the ability to keep (or not) marital vows is an indication of one’s ability to keep other commitments? The same question could be asked about any type of commitment. For instance, if a doctor can’t stick to her Hippocratic Oath, does it carry implications in other areas of her life?

Vows, oaths, and whatnot are all words. It requires the intent of the individual to give them any power. So what do we give up when we betray those commitments?


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January 2009
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