There is something so sweet about watching a man care for his wife in her hour of need. For the past few days, I’ve been able to observe this first hand as someone dear to me is slowly recovering from surgery. Her husband has been by her side constantly (except for the few hours he’s been required to work each day) and has gently held her, rubbed her forehead, spoken gently to her, and been her greatest advocate.
I, (name), take you (name), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/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.
Her every wince touches his heart. Each night you’ll find him asleep next to her hospital bed. This is the kind of love marriage requires. It may be months before she can cook and clean and she probably won’t feel up to a major vacation any time soon, but he is choosing to love her anyway regardless of what she can or cannot do for him. Should the roles be reversed someday, I’m certain that she will be asleep by his hospital bed every night as well.
Every day, all over the world, people get married. This is usually the day both the bride and groom try to look their best. Standing in front of their family and friends, they look into each other’s sparkly eyes and say those five little words: “in sickness and in health.” This is easy to say when your spouse is young and in the best shape of his or her life; but, what if life throws you both a curve ball and one of you finds yourself by the hospital bed of the other? It is seasons of life such as these when true commitment and devotion are tested. Will you choose to actively love this person you are publically committing to even when they can do nothing for you in return?
Let’s take a look at some of the different ways sickness can take form. There is the everyday cold and flu. These sicknesses are annoying but generally not life threatening. However, they can make us feel so poorly that we are in the perfect condition to snap at our loved ones than when we are feeling well. Additionally, we are not in the same condition to fulfill our roles when we are sick. If the primary cook of the house is not feeling well, the other spouse may have to cook against his or her will – or get take out.
Some sicknesses are more serious and require longer healing times. Going through, and recovering from, surgery could fit into this category. Whether your spouse had knee or hip replacement surgery, or a tumor removed, it can take a long while for him or her to be fully back in the swing of things. During these times you may be called upon to do most or all of the housework. You may be needed as a nurse in the middle of the night. You may find yourself a little overwhelmed as you attempt to take on a double role around the home. When you commit to taking someone in sickness and in health, are you prepared for this day if (or when) it comes?
Lastly, you have sicknesses that are terminal. By far, these are the hardest illnesses to watch in a loved one. When you are caring for a spouse with a terminal disease, you are no longer expecting anything in return from them. This is when your spouse needs you most – when their days are coming to a close. Many of us have heard of men and women leaving their spouses while they are terminally ill. For a lot of us, such a thought is unimaginable. When a person’s worldview dictates that he or she must be happy to stay in a relationship, it would make sense that he or she would leave when his or her spouse could no longer contribute to their selfish desires. It is emotionally difficult to watch your spouse suffer – and at times, it may seem like your life has been reduced to home, hospitals, and pharmacies.
When you vow to your future spouse, in sickness and in health, are you really committing to him or her regardless of the sickness? Are you committing to him or her regardless of the emotional stress and reduction in lifestyle? What if your life savings has to be spent for his or her care? Will you still be committed to him or her?
I understand that this post may seem like a major downer. When I think about budding relationships, I seldom think about that young man and woman dealing with major sicknesses someday; but, it is something we need to think about before making such a huge commitment. Am I willing to take on the responsibility of loving and caring for this person, even if he or she is unable to do anything to help me?
It is heart wrenching watching men and women care for their dying spouses, but the love they show is heartwarming. When I was a teenager, I remember seeing an older gentlemen who owned a car dealership in town, lovingly hold his wife and sing to her during a church service at my grandmother’s nursing home. She was unable to communicate, but he rocked her and sang to her from the hymnal. That moment touched my heart. That was a picture of lasting love – love that is a day to day decision, regardless of circumstances.
It is also very important to consider the ability and desire of your future spouse to take care of you. How does he or she talk about people who are ill? Does he or she spend the time to take care of the person? Visit a convalescent home with your future spouse to brighten the day of some of the guests there. Take notice of how he or she interacts with the residents and evaluate.
If you are in a relationship with someone who does not show compassion to your sicknesses and does not show signs that he or she would be willing to give his or her all to you in your hour of need, consider the large cost of continuing in this relationship. It could be a sign of immaturity or it could be a sign that he or she will not be faithful to you when you can no longer give the person what he or she thinks is required for the sustenance of the relationship. Prayerfully consider where to head in your relationship and seek the counsel of trusted, godly friends or a pastor as well – this is a significant issue… choose well.
Has your boyfriend or girlfriend ever seen you sick, really sick? How did he or she respond? Was there compassion, frustration, indifference? How does your boyfriend or girlfriend respond to other people’s sicknesses?