On our wedding day, we stand radiantly before a preacher in our most beautiful clothes and we are usually told to repeat some version of the following sentence: “Will you promise to love him/her for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live?” As we look into that beautiful/handsome face before us, we think, “Of course! I adore him/her! I would walk 500 miles for my beloved! ” While we have the best of intentions, it is much easier to make such a commitment on an exciting day surrounded by droves of family and friends while holding hands with your favorite person in the world. The tests usually don’t come until later.
Usually your wedding season represents the better, the richer (at least in spirit), and the healthier portion of the phrase above. While it might not be the most pleasant, it will benefit your relationship if you can experience some of the worse, poorer and sicker portions before marriage. You will want to know how your significant other handles it when you are in a bad mood, when you struggle financially or emotionally, and when you are not feeling well. The day may come where you have to take care of each other. The bedside manner of your future life partner is important to investigate early.
If you are a typical person, you will at least suffer a cold in the first five years of marriage, and possibly the flu or bronchitis. Almost all of us have been sick at some point in our lives and we remember how helpless we felt. When you think back to feeling sick as a child, or even as an adult, what did you want from others in your life? Did you want an extra measure of affection? Did you want to be left alone? For someone who feels a genuine need to be loved and cared for during an illness, a spouse being hands-off is not just a letdown, but a devastation. The sick person may feel that his or her significant other does not care about him or her and, that if he or she became terminally ill one day, that he or she will be a huge burden to his or her spouse. That person may also feel that he or she is only worthwhile to his or her partner if he or she is always in top shape and ready to go. You cannot fully accept someone as a lifetime partner unless you can accept them in a bad mood, when they are running low on funds, and especially when they are sick. In choosing a life partner, it is important that you select someone who has proven to you that he or she will care for you in sickness and in health.
How can I know if my boyfriend/girlfriend will care for me? This is a good question. Anyone can pretend to care for a little while. This is where time comes into play. After the “fireworks” phase of your courtship has worn off, you begin to see the truth about the other person. Does he or she put you at ease? Does he or she make fun of you when you are not feeling your best? Would you be mortified to ever get sick in his or her car? Would you be afraid he or she would roll his or her eyes if you cancelled plans because you were feeling under the weather? How has the other person treated you in the past when you were feeling ill? Take notes on that behavior when you are sick and ask yourself if you would want to be treated this way for a lifetime. If not, be sure to discuss your feelings with your potential spouse. It takes work to mesh two worlds and points of view. There is only danger if one or both sides is not willing to change.
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