In Sickness & In Health
When we get into a relationship with someone we do so acknowledging the information and experiences we’ve had with them. We can only project what will come after that. Our life experiences have taught us that from time to time things go wrong and still we’re caught off guard when they do. What do we do when the ones we love are no longer able to provide what we thought they could? Time and time again we become obsessed with the idea of perfection and overestimate the abilities of our partners (and ourselves) in the process.
Relationships free from expectation are idealistic but frankly... unattainable. We all have needs and desires, even those of us who are healthy and whole. Our independence makes us only willing to engage in relationships that we find mutually beneficial, and that is not selfish, that is just reality. Even when our expectations are not unrealistic, even if we just want something as simple as acknowledgement: how do we handle it when our partners are unable to do that anymore. It’s easy to think that those issues are years away. The chances of your partner having a stroke and being rendered speechless at a young age are low but not impossible. We’ve all seen the stories of the newly wedded who’ve overcome dramatic circumstances, unexpected paralyzation and so much more.
It takes more than just strength of character to endure and face the possibility of being caretaker for a loved one, it takes an inordinate amount of faith. We cannot guarantee that our partners would do the same for us if the situations were reversed. Honestly, it is impossible to know how we would react in such a situation. All we can do is hope the love that we feel toward one another will sustain us as we move through our trials.
It is important to note that illness is not limited to the body, mental health issues can also be debilitating and draining on a relationship (and have physical implications as well). For any illness that you and your partner might be facing it is important to educate yourself. Know the signs of advancing illness and devolution of various conditions. This may be able to help you find preventative care. Also, be open and honest with your partner about your health, especially in the advancing stages of a relationship. Being blindsided by a chronic health issue, can shake even the strongest of partnerships.
In sickness and in health, is a pledge that should not be taken lightly. It is one of the greatest tests of strength for any relationship, and is the enduring embodiment of what it means to love unconditionally.