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Winifred Adebayo: The Marriage Vow



I admit I was one of those: drunk on fairy tales and living in a self-created fantasy world…that was how I thought about marriage. The romantic songs, my dazzling gown, my groom tearing up at the sight of me, and my graceful walk down the aisle…I could never get past those moments in my head. As far as I was concerned, the world would stand still and angels will descend for my wedding day. Good old days as a little girl; I grew up and life knocked some sense into me.

I soon realized that it’s hard enough to share a room with a best friend for a little while, not to mention sharing a life time with someone. Surprisingly, we won’t be cooing at ourselves all the time. There would be fights, misunderstandings and hard pills to swallow in the name of offences. Charged with this information, I drew my list. I listed a bunch of offences in my head and I said to myself ‘if he tries any of these nonsense, we would be dissolving the marriage’; all the while I hadn’t really given a thought to the ‘nonsense’ that I would also do.

Somehow, it made me feel a little better; after all if it doesn’t work, we pull out and start over. No pressure right? How much more wrong could I have been? I didn’t still understand what marriage was all about.

All efforts from older people to explain what marriage was all about proved abortive; as far as I was concerned their generation had passed and things had changed. It’s no news that my gender is not favored by this institution. In many countries, there’s still no system to fight for or support women when things go wrong. In my defense, if I go in ready for war, just maybe I might fight and win.

Then one day I studied the old marriage vow and I recited it to myself ‘I Winifred take the future husband, to be my husband to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part’. It was like someone poured cold water mixed with ice, on me. Light had finally shone on the truth.

Firstly, in the vow I only promise to GIVE. There is no part where I recited what I’m expecting to get or receive from my partner or the marriage. Secondly, it transcends every possible situation: good or bad. I literally use words to create the cage, enter, lock myself, and throw the key away. Thirdly, I bind myself to the person for the rest of my life.

It’s no surprise why a single unmarried person and a divorced single person are addressed differently in official forms. The marriage could be dissolved legally but I can’t live life – like the marriage never happened. In other words, that person is a part of me for the rest of my life, whether I like it or not. So once again another reality thunderbolt jolted me back; there’s no easy way out.

Then it left me with questions. How much can I take? When do I press to my limit? What’s the recipe on how and when to quit? How tough will it get? What about the famous infidelity? Do I just stay and wait for one of us to die? Etc. As the questions kept flooding in, my mind kept going back to the vow; seems like it covered all the areas. All of a sudden romance took a back seat and reasoning stepped in. These seemingly hard questions are easier than I thought. We already have a guideline to finding a spouse that we don’t often use; the vow should be used to assess every relationship. Getting married should be more reflective and sober than we make it.

Romantic movies, songs, and novels do little or no justice in describing the real world. The other extreme of making marriage seem like self-centered journey where the other person is exploited for personal satisfaction is no better either. The decision and search for a spouse should be done like you only get one chance, with knowledge, prayers, and discernment. The unique thing about the marriage vow is the levelled playing field it offers; there’s no gender, culture, stereotype, or discrimination. Let this vow guide the search and the decisions we make.

So I charge you as I charged myself, men and women alike, if you cannot live out this vow with someone and mean it from the depth of your soul, don’t marry the person at all. Marriage is about giving, loving, and sharing in the truest and purest form.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Jeffrey Banke

Winifred Adebayo was born is Rivers State. She is a registered nurse and working on a PhD. She loves to write; it’s her form or art, designed with self-expression, experiences, and fiction. She blogs at


  1. Sugar

    March 13, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Am single and i always wondered why people say the 1st year in marriage is always a diffucult period. People marry for different reasons and i wonder how they will cope when the pressure of marriage start to mount on them. People who marry for love even have issues so i can imagine people who marry for other reasons such as money, influence or just for selfish gains. That is why there are lots of divorce cases nowadays because people dont marry for the right reasons. Some ladies even go into marriage and deep down she knows she dosent truly love this man and she keeps assuring herself that she will fall in love as the years go by. I remember our pastor once told us in church that he counseled a particular lady and this woman told him out-rightly that she’s patiently waiting for the day her husband will die so she can at least be free.
    May God help us to be able to choose right and be with someone you love enough to tolerate his snoring habits etc

  2. S

    March 13, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    HMMMM…this is just so true…facing reality too..God help us uno

  3. Annie Mbz

    March 13, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Good job

  4. ACE

    March 13, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Word!!! Now i wish i can rewind my life….hmmmmm… Truth be told if we married with these vows in our minds (both partners equally or at least near equally) we will have dream lives.

  5. Neo

    March 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I have been exploring this issue of marriage vows for a while now. I’m single and i have heard my fair share of marriage issues, some of which i believe faced with i would have walked.

    Marriage is in its simplest form a contract, and breach by one party should terminate the whole thing is the other party wishes abi? However it’s not that simple. As a christian marriage is the only tripartite covenant involving man, woman and God. So even if a man breaks the covenant of faithfulness to you, he has broken a covenant with God, if you decide to leave him, you will be breaking the “till death do us part” to him and to God. This got me thinking further, does it mean God wants me to stay in a loveless/bad situation because i made a promise to my man and to him? So i started researching the origins of the “traditional marriage vows” and realised that it was designed by the church. There is nowhere in the bible where u will find those exact words.

    I realised that half the time people are reciting some words they havent stopped to think about and saying stuff they dont mean or cant stand by. That’s fine when its a promise you are making to a human being but to God? Its a big deal! Now im a big advocate for writing your own vows based on what you bleive you owe to the person you love and have decided to spend the rest of ur life with

  6. D

    March 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    @ Sugar…I never understood why people said the first year of marriage was the most difficult either until I got married . I love my fiance (now hubby) and we were together for years mostly long distance though but I loved him going in and still love him and I was certain he felt the same way about me. But then we got married, he moved over and life started and although it did not dawn on me at the time it was definitely the toughest year for us. It was by no means terrible but we had a lot of “misunderstandings” that year. First, I will speak of just my own part in all of this, my parents taught us to be super independent and they made it clear to us ladies they never wanted us to have to rely on any man for anything. At 16 years we were all driving, male and female. We were taught to work and be willing to fight for what we wanted, My dad will always make us plead our case for our lunch money everyday even though he knew and we knew he was going to give us. He said and I quote “you need to learn things are not always going to be offered to you on a platter of gold”. I started working (by choice) right after high school (between the time I finished SSCE and sat for SAT) , I worked at a Japanese restaurant has a cook nothing fancy but it was my money. Then I left home and I’ve lived by myself since college. So I did everything by myself and I mean EVERRYTHING so when i married na. I was so used to being independent that i did not realise hubby was feeling unwanted and unneeded and you would be surprised how just that little thing can affect different aspects of your life. Like the author said it is not easy to live with your best friend, not to talk of having a permanent roommate for the rest of your life. Meshing 2 lives is no joke and it takes time, work and commitment to get to a place of compromise; where you are able to create a balance. I could no longer just pack my bags and go wherever i saw a good job opportunity. I used to move wherever the job was but that had to stop because it was no longer about me alone, now somebody else too had a job so there were/are opportunities i had to turn down. It is not easy especially if you are goal oriented. So yes when people say the first year of marriage is the most difficult it is because 2 people with 2 different backgrounds, dreams, aspirations,ideologies are coming together and trying to marry everything together in a way that will be beneficially to both and that is no easy feat. The first year is really where you learn to find balance and some people actually never do hence basis for some divorces/separations.

    • Sugar

      March 13, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      Oh yes, i hear a lot of stories from friends, aunties, colleagues and some good some bad. The constant thing they say is that Dating is far far different from when you get married. That BF you visit and you put ur shoe on the rug and he’ll smile at you and say “ohhh its ok” will be the same man that will fling those shoes in the backyard when you get married because he dosent see it appropriate.
      I have a friend who is independent like ure and babe got married to her hubby in Ibadan, she secured a job and she relocated to Lagos leaving the guy behind in Ibadan. The man is back to his single years within 2years of marriage. Wife visits him just once in 2 weeks or in 3weeks. and thats because a compromise cant be reached. She cant stay home jobless so she relocated and left him behind. Just last week hubby was telling me he’s tired of his lonely life and he’s considering bringing another lady home to be a live-in-wife!!! i was shocked. I asked the wife she should relocate back to her husband’s home and she replied me saying…Will you give me a job if i relocate back i cant stay home all day……Wife is not ready to leave her Lagos job and relocate. She’ll rather work and forgo her marriage.

      Compromise is very important in marriage and both parties have to agree on the same issue, subject or decision.

  7. temitops

    March 13, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Hahaha.. I laff in greek.
    Ok lemme start by saying that d first tin my mom told me wen I was about getting married was dat “hmm marriage is not love in Tokyo o ” n dat there will definitely be sum Lil fights, I just waved it off n said we were too much in love to even fight atal..
    But mehn!! Truth be told, d first year was d toughest eva, so many misunderstandings, from why didn’t u ask me wat I wuld like to eat before cooking, to why didnt u close d toilet door, to why litter d bedrm wt ur boxers, all dis with MIL asking why hubby was d one sweeping while I slept during one of her visits, I got wiser. Cos my friend said I shld have done some eye service* by not allowing my DH engage in such house chores while she was ard. Lol me I didn’t know I was meant to pretend as such.
    To cut d long story short, please read n digest ur marriage vows well o b4 taking dos steps. Marraige is not a BED of ROSES, noo Mata Hw much u love dat dude, it can’t be sweet all thru.

  8. Faithful

    March 13, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Funny that recently i have been ruminating on the words of the traditional marriage vows and have wondered if pple just mindlessly recite these words on their wedding day or even give a thot to what they recite. I mean these are VOWS, first to God and to your spouse and in the presence of many witnessess which calls for the utmost respect and committment.

    I strongly bliv that if pple recited these words with half the thot they put into the planning of their weddings we wouldn’t have the high rate of broken homes we have today. Rather many pple have bought into the hype of having a grandiose wedding and think little of having a grandiose marriage.

    It is often said in Christendom with reference to the Holy Scriptures that marriage is meant by God to be a reflection of the His relationship with the Church-His Bride. We commit the most heinous crimes (Even though sin is sin regardless of how we humans classify sins as big or small), yet God does not cast us away. in fact Romans 2:4 says God shows us the riches of His goodness and forbearance to draw us to repentance.

    We can also take a cue from our filial relationships with our siblings and parents. hardly will u find one who disowns his or her family for wrongdoing. Why should this be the case in marriage. Shouldnt this be an indication to us that the devil is all out to create havoc in an institution God meant to reflect the highest form of intimacy humanly possible and which is meant to point us to the intimacy God desires for us as his children

    i write this with a heavy heart because i believe that this lackadaisical attitude to marriage is the reason for the sorry situation the world is in today. YES!!! i say that with all confidence
    Stable homes give rise to stable Children who in turn become stable adults and stable leaders who give rise to stable countries and a stable world.

    Like all relationships, marriage requires nurturing and this is not to say that anyone should remain in an abusive relationship. No. The emphasis here is that when we enter Godly marriages for the right reasons and with the mind of succeeding at it (the way we do our academics and careers…) regardless of our failings and shortcomings (except in life threatening cases) cos none of us is perfect we would have long lasting unions which will go a long way in righting the ills of this world cos what we have is a foundational problem.

    Yes, we will make mistakes. We will disagree and there may be slip ups on one or both sides. Of course we are human but dats life. Do we throw away the baby with the bath water? Çourse not. Our Mistakes and challenges are meant to build character and virtues in us and make us stronger. Patience, tolerance, hope, unconditional love, faith, all praiseworthy virtues at least in the sight of God before whom it matters the most

    Marriage should be approached with prayer, planning and preparation not frivolity, fanfare as is the case today. God never meant for it to be this way, you can start to make a difference from your home today with His help

    • Lynn Japhet

      March 27, 2015 at 10:29 am


  9. epiphanized

    March 13, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Breath of fresh air!
    I think every married couple should have diz vows framed n hung up on thier bedroom wall so every morning they wake up, they will be reminded why they are in that marriage together.

  10. janeth

    March 14, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Marriage is a serious convenant..if you dont want to marry someone dont even enter for any reason be it financial gain,for papers or other selfish reasons cause if you break the vows the memorys are walk here and there they are there.its sad how this society had push people into marrying for wrong im planning to join Nun soon sha.i pray God to help me hold body.

  11. Labi Francis

    March 19, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I am really proud of you ma. Wish you greater heights. just remembering you in Airforce comprehensive school.

    • Diamond

      March 25, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Is it AFCS Ibadan? And what set?

    • Winifred Adebayo

      March 25, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Thank you Labi

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