Sunday, October 5, 2008

"In Sickness & In Health"

If you've ever attended a wedding, you've more than likely heard the phrase above, nestled in amongst the rest of the vows, "In good times & bad....till death us do part." And if you're like most married couples, you probably even said these very words, or something very similar.

The reality is, when you're caught up in the middle of the emotion & joy of that wonderful day, sickness, and all that it entails, is really the farthest thing from your mind. And it's not until you're sitting there holding your loved one's head, as they heave their cookies yet again, or worse, sit by their bedside as they struggle to breathe, that you grasp the true meaning of this phrase.

I was in a coffee shop the other day, and overheard a woman talking to another woman, and the first said, "I'm really struggling with my husband who has Alzheimer's. Some days I feel like I could just run away, far, far, away." I don't doubt in the least that she has stopped loving her husband. It's just that sicknesses, illnesses and injuries change people.

And I'm not just talking about the Christopher Reeve type of critical and in his case, ultimately fatal injury, although that is definitely the extreme of all and life-changing. Even when someone has something as minor as a common cold or flu, or pink eye, it changes you. Suddenly you are vulnerable. Weak. Unable to carry out your day-to-day activities. You may even have to rely on someone else to take up your slack, either at work or home. This, in turn, can put a huge amount of added pressure on that person, who may themselves be struggling just to get by.

So I guess my question is this: how do you continue to honor & and uphold the marriage vows that you took before God, your family & your friends, when the person you are married to, is no longer the same person, due to an long-term injury or illness, and you may not even really like them any more? I know a vow is a vow, but what about the caregiver's personal health, physical and/or mental? Is it ever okay for them to say, "I'm done. I can't do this anymore."?

By the way, David & I are fine :-) This is just something that got me thinking after I heard the comment in the coffee shop...What are your thoughts?