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?
Michelle Hines says
This article really touched my heart. My husband took ill Christmas Eve 2018 and life has done a complete 360. He’s no longer able to work and we have been struggling financially. But I wouldn’t trade him for all the riches in the world. This man has been nothing loving and kind since the day I met him. The thought of life without him is unimaginable. This year made 10 years of wedded bliss and I’m looking forward to however many more years God has in store for us.
I lost my wife a week ago to respiratory failure. I wish to be with her. All is lost, I feel, without her with me. I cherished my last remaining hours singing to her. The pain her loss is, and was, unbearable; but, still I refuse comfort as I believe better to feel all of pain and suffer great loss as it is supposed to hurt. The greater the love, the greater the pain.
Dano, I am very sorry for your loss. Losing a spouse is incredibly painful. Note, however, that even Jesus asked to avoid pain if it were possible. I do not think it is helpful to refuse comfort as it does not change our loss. Instead, allowing others to comfort us brings a blessing to the other person and honors the one who has passed. I pray life will become easier for you in the upcoming days – as you deal with the grief of losing her.
Kay Kellensworth says
We are not married yet and now he is having problems with his blood pressure. He told me that he would understand if I didn’t stay because I didn’t sign on for this. We both have been married before and that didn’t work out for either one of us. I want go into that I looked at him and I smiled with tears in my eyes and I asked him, “Do you know the part in the wedding vows that says in sickness or in health, until death do we part?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Ok, so if you marry and both are in good health and then one day out of the blue one of you gets sick, what then what will you do? And while you are thinking about this, let this go through your head with it: in sickness or in health. You said this before God and think of this when your mom got so sick and need to be cared for. What did your dad do? Did he pack up and leave? No he stayed right there by her side because he stood before God and vowed to love her in sickness or in health; until death do we part.” I let him sit there and think about all that I had said; and, even though we are not married yet and we have not said our vows before God, I will not pack up and go. I will stand by his side in sickness or in health. His is not a terminal illness, and with the proper medicine and diet, he will be alright. I told him, “Things like this is something that nobody plans on happening, but it’s part of life and it is something that we will go through together. We will get through this together before marriage; and, after we are married, we will stand strong together, side by side, until death will we part.”
Kay, thank you for sharing; that is a beautiful re-telling of faithfulness. It is important to note that faithfulness to a spouse is of the utmost importance and should be clearly seen before the wedding (and, honestly, even before engagement).
But, I also want to make clear that someone else in your situation above is not *obligated* to marry the other person in those circumstances. If it was determined that such was a burden too heavy to bear for them, then they are not yet bound by a covenantal oath (since none yet was administered) and are free to go. And, if the person indeed did choose to leave, then it would be better for the other person that such leaving happen before marriage instead of after marriage.
We will all deal with the wages of sin (including sickness and death) in this life and in our marriages; so, it is important to find someone who can represent abiding faithfulness until death. It appears that he has found such a person in you. Thank you for sharing.
In sickness & health does not mean nothing during this COVID-19 pandemic! 45 years with the love of my life had to spend over a month in the hospital with life threatening conditions. No, I could not go in to hold her hand and comfort her in the time in her life when she really needed me! She is still struggling from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. She is my rock. When the government says I cannot visit her, something is broken somewhere!
I broke my fibula and tore ligaments in my ankle. I cannot bear any weight and am basically bedridden for now. My husband left the next day for a week long business trip leaving me with 3 young kids and no one to care for them or me. Leaving me to manage to drive myself to the doctor alone. He has barely checked in. His mother made me cry because I wasn’t grateful enough when she offered to take the kids to and from school because I cannot walk up and down downstairs to drive. He only came to her defense and made me Feel like I was worthless. I feel that he has broken his vows and may never forgive him- if he even wants to be forgiven.
That sounds like a very unfortunate set of circumstances and that you two may need marriage counseling to unpack some of the details in your message. However, if you do not forgive him, it will only lead to bitterness inside of you which will only harm you. Forgiveness is one-way; reconciliation is two-way. Forgive him for your benefit, so you can release the anger; but, continue on to marriage counseling for reconciliation. Grace be with you.