I’m at that time of life now where not a weekend seems to go by without someone I know tying the knot. I love weddings- more pretty dresses in one room than you can shake a stick at and plenty of cake-what’s not to like sez I?
There is just one little part of the ceremony that gives me pause for thought. And it’s that line about “in sickness and in health”
Do we really know what are asking of another when we say it?
No one ever wants to be cared for physically by their spouse. And no one can ever truly say it’s a desirable role to undertake on behalf of another. But is it really a reasonable request? To ask another to put their own life, dreams and plans on hold indefinitely to be nurse maid to someone they have loved as an equal?
A lot of the time chronic illness proves too much for a marriage. If the Carer can no longer cope with their role then they leave. Or Conversely, the carer is fine with their role and the real trouble behind when their partner finds a cure to their Illness and regains their independence. On a personal note having experienced both with the same partner I’d have to say I’d take the former anytime. At least it leaves room for growth.
If you feel you are in either of these situations all I can offer you is my own belief and experience that although being unwell and single seems scary as hell it’s actually way easier to concentrate on getting better that way. There is no distraction, you don’t have to deal with another persons emotional crap on top of your own. or worry about the emotional changes you are experiencing turning you into a person your partner does not want. I’d also like to point out that although you may be fairly convinced that you will actually die without their help, well you won’t. I’m proof of that I promise.
I now stand firmly in the belief that no one should ever have to care for me. That my happiness and physical wellbeing is my own responsibility-no one elses. I have to say it’s a very liberating thing to feel. It just took me a while to get here.
Yet as always there is a story that gives me a reason to re-think… When I was fasting in Panama I met a woman who had recently lost her husband of 20 years to a Brain Tumour. She came to my room to visit me one day (I was still unable to walk then) and brought me some pictures of her husband whilst she talked about them.
They started in the usual way. Two college sweethearts looking very young, to an affluent New York couple. Then throughout his illness. As his final 18 months progressed this man changed to a person ravaged by illness and honestly totally unrecognisable. It was really shocking. My friend got to the last photo and the end of her story. Then she paused and said “what surprises me the most is how different he looks in these pictures, because at the time I never saw it. Not once. To me he was always the beautiful man I married, til the day he died he was perfect.”
I’d say if you’ve found a love like that. A love that sees the essence of you, regardless of physical state, then saying I Do and taking The Richer, Poorer, Sickness and Health Pact isn’t going to be an issue for you after all.