“Marriage includes cacti as well as roses, and rough times as well as good times. It includes tears as well as laughter and shadows as well as sunshine. However, self-sacrificing love for one another will carry a husband and wife through every trial and reflect Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church” (Jim Dyet).
So often when we marry we don’t realize that illness will come upon our lives together. And when it does, and it’s severe we’re not sure we can continue in our commitment to each other.
When illness becomes a part of your marriage (which it will inevitably will, in some form), we pray you’ll be there for each other. May you partner together to live out the promises you made to each other and to God to “love, honor, and cherish” in health as well as in sickness. As Marlene Bagnull—the editor of the book For Better, For Worse said:
The temptation to put our own spin on the promises we made is always present.
• To have and to hold… and to control.
• For better or worse… as long as there’s more better than worse.
• For richer or poorer… but love doesn’t pay the bills!
• In sickness and health… but I didn’t sign on to be a doctor or nurse.
• Forsaking all others… but can’t I at least look?
• To love and to cherish… when that’s how my mate treats me!
• Till death do us part… You mean there’s no escape clause?
Today some couples do write their own vows, but the key word commitment, may not be included or taken seriously. After all, we live in a free country and we have a “right” to be happy. But marriage is about so much more than “living happily ever after.”
We’d like to share with you something written in the book, For Better, For Worse compiled and edited by Marlene Bagnull. The following excerpt was titled, “In Sickness” written by Jana Carman.
The bride looked startled as she opened my shower gift. Tucked in a plastic box were a thermometer, a box of bandages, a tube of burn ointment, a sickroom bell, and aspirin. There were also several medicine cabinet kinds of things that every household needs sooner or later.
‘Love is not always glamorous, but it will help you get to the bathroom when you’re sick’ Helen Woodhall wrote in a letter to her granddaughter in Guideposts magazine.
It also helps you mop up when someone doesn’t make it there in time, or go out in the middle of the night for cough medicine, or change bandages or sheets again and again.
Most of us going into marriage have had no worse ailment than a broken bone or a bad case of the flu. Serious illness or injury is something that happens to other people. It never occurred to me that our family would experience the heartbreak and upheaval of mental illness. Yet over a period of fifteen years we coped with four separate hospitalizations for extended times.
Sometimes coped was barely the word. Each time John and I suffered together as his depression became more severe. Each time the agonizing decision to go back to the hospital had to be made—or was made for us by a crisis. And each time we struggled together as John climbed that steep hill back to health.
It was during one of the crisis times that I leaned against my father and cried, ‘Daddy, I don’t know how I can take any more.’
He may have felt like he was mouthing an empty cliché, but he said what I needed: ‘Take it one day at a time.’
Someone has said that none of us can carry a lifetime’s burden, but we can each carry this hour’s worth.
“Your strength will equal your days“ (Deuteronomy 33:25).
“O Lord, You alone are my strength. Pick me up when I collapse. Comfort me in pain. Carry me in weakness. Infuse me with Your power to go on. Thank You for staying close. Amen.”
The above true-life article (and the comments from Marlene Bagnull) can be found, along with numerous others, in the book, “For Better, For Worse.” It was compiled and edited by Marlene Bagnull, published by Christian Publications, Inc. What’s sad is that this book is no longer being published. It’s sad because what’s unique about this book is that it has a section dealing with illness within marriage. You don’t find that subject being addressed very often.
Part of the reason for this is because of the book’s format. It goes through each part of the wedding vows (“To Have and to Hold, For Better or for Worse, For Richer, or for Poorer, In Sickness and in Health, Forsaking All Others, To Love and to Cherish, Till Death Do Us Part”) and has numerous true stories about real people—who are choosing to live out the vows they made on their wedding days.