“For better or worse, for richer or poorer…in sickness and in health, till death do us part”.
Either you’ve uttered these words or heard them before. This is part of a wedding vow…A vow we make to each other on the day we become husband and wife. It’s a time when you view your whole life before you, no longer as one but part of a whole. You don’t envision the fact that saying those words could possibly become the one true test (amidst all the others) you’ll ever have to endure from this day forward. I wonder how many of us, who have actually uttered those words, realize the extent of the promise we make?
I mean think about it.
If someone had to play a video forecast of your future life where either husband or wife is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or reduced within a split second to a vegetative state. What do you think the outcome of your decision to make such a vow or promise would be? Do you think you would be brave enough to endure a journey of heart wrenching moments, uncertainty that drives you to the brink of insanity or just plainly feeling helpless and weak? I bet in most cases, it’s a matter of saying you wouldn’t be “that guy” to leave your lady stranded in her moment of need. Or, that you wouldn’t be “that woman” who turns her back on the man she pledged to love for all eternity.
Truth is, as romantic as it is to see yourself as that person who will stick it out, there’s no guarantee that you will. Illness has a weird way of bringing out the true colours in any situation and person. It changes everyone involved especially the two people who are weathering the storm. For better or worse?…Well, that remains to be seen.
If you were/are faced with this predicament, would you leave your better half?
Let’s say they were the one affected by a condition like Hydrocephalus, no cure, just more brain surgery. Going from one day to the next, week after week, month after month and year after year…never knowing when the other shoe will drop. They might be lucky enough to have more moments of “good health” than bad, thereby creating a false sense of “everything is OK”. But, the moment the other shoe drops, it’s surgery after surgery and an unending nightmare of the unknown. Would you be able to live like this? Where hospital walls start causing you anxiety with feelings of claustrophobia. Financial concerns escalate. Running between home, work and the hospital leaves you thinking “Is this really my life?…It sure does suck! (or close enough)”. You may even have children to take care of and the person who usually does everything and takes care of things is no longer able to. You’ve been flung into a job description that does not afford you any leave or time out for a bit of sanity because you’re running a one man band.
Similarly, if you were the one affected by this condition, what would you expect from your better half?
Would it be selfish of you to think that your life-threatening condition should be as important to them as it is to you? Would it be selfish to look for, want or need affirmation from them (when the reality of it all hits you from time to time) that they will be there for you no matter what? For them to acknowledge your fears and do whatever they can to quiet them? Do you think it’s unreasonable for them to place their life on hold (momentarily) while you deal with the betrayal within your body? Or, even adjust their life’s ambitions to be at your side while you fight a failing medical system or whatever challenges you’re presented with?
Do you expect them to cut you some slack because of the hell you’ve already been through and know the imminent possibility of its continuance? Even if it’s just to ask “How are you doing today?”…Is that asking too much?
What does it say about your relationship when you are too scared to voice your fears, to talk about the future or even say when you’re not feeling well? When a simple conversation about your health concerns turns into an argument you’d much rather avoid at all cost…So therefore, you keep it to yourself and feed the loneliness in your core.
I wonder what proportion of men vs women receive more care, empathy and support from their partners when diagnosed with a condition like Hydrocephalus. I’ve written before about Hydrocephalus affecting relationships, so I suppose you could say, this is a follow on from that. I have no doubt that this condition, with its false sense of security, has been instrumental in placing enormous strain on relationships…
Some have probably been strong enough to survive and others not.
Would it really be wrong for anyone, who does not get the care and support from their spouse, to walk away? Anyone who is made to feel extremely lonely within the confines of marriage, would seemingly have a valid reason to cut their losses and move on. Likewise, if a spouse felt that the “burden” of the condition is just too much (a deal breaker), could you truly hold it against them?
Inevitably, it might just be a situation of what they want vs what you need. Somehow this would appear to make the decision a no-brainer. But, with matters of the heart, things aren’t always that simple.
One life…that’s all we have. Whether our decisions are right or wrong is irrespective – we make the choices we make in life and deal with whatever consequences comes after the fact. If you’re in this situation…I wish you well with the decisions you have to make.
But, more importantly than that, I pray you don’t ever have to…