Over the weekend I read an article about some research that was done and it was discovered that divorce is more likely when wives have a serious illness. While I can definitely see how something like a long term or serious illness can take a toll on your relationship, I also think that if you let it, a situation like that could have the opposite effect and really strengthen your relationship and the love that you have for each other. Not only can a trial like an illness bring you closer together, but it gives one spouse the opportunity to be completely selfless and the other spouse gets a glimpse of how much they are cared for.
Caring for a sick spouse is hard for so many reasons, especially if they are completely dependent on you and can't do a lot, if any, of the things that they have always done on their own. You are seeing them at their very worst physically, emotionally and mentally. Life together is rarely fun and romance is rare if it exists at all. Life together is a lot different than it has ever been and that can be extremely difficult to adjust to. There are so many things that you're used to having a partner by your side for; caring for kids, household duties, and major life decisions, and now instead of being there to share the burdens of life with you, your spouse is leaning on you completely with their struggles and hardships.
I have been thinking about examples of marriages that have endured this type of trial all weekend and found myself inspired by some of the couples that I thought of. There is one couple in particular who I admire weekly at church and I feel like they fit this topic perfectly. They are an older couple, I would guess that they are in their late 80's, and watching them together always makes me smile! The husband is a very brilliant man who has a strong testimony of the gospel and deep adoration for his wife. She has Alzheimer's and is incapable of communicating with anyone, but always has a smile on her face and really loves people. I would say that she is pretty high functioning and she doesn't seem too difficult to care for, but I can only imagine how hard something like that would be in your life. Whenever this woman gets up and wanders off, her husband watches her carefully but lets her have her space. He'll follow slowly behind her and tell the people who she's stopped to talk to, "My sweetheart has Alzheimer's and her memory is completely gone so nothing that she says makes sense, I'm sorry." He smiles and is so positive the whole time, and when he catches up with her, he gently grabs her hand and they walk back to their pew with their arms around each other. It makes my heart so happy to see how much they love each other and that his feelings for her are still just as strong even with everything that they have going on.
^^ Joe and I both spent time in the ER this past year and we've learned to depend on each other more ^^
With my morning sickness and then the sinus infection that I was fighting for over five weeks this past year, I feel like Joe and I got a small glimpse of what something like a long term illness would look like in our lives. He sacrificed a lot of his time to do the things that I didn't have the energy to do, didn't complain too much when my different sicknesses kept him up at night or woke him up early in the morning and he stayed up late after an extra long day to take me to the ER for fluids when I was dehydrated even though my mom offered to take me instead so that he could get some sleep. One day when he's in a similar situation, I want to remember everything that he did for me and the examples of others around us to serve with love instead of dreading and letting those moments tear at our relationship. Something that was said in Sunday School today seems to fit with this subject well, your burdens can be blessings or your blessings can be burdens, it all depends on your attitude and how you choose to view it.
On that note, this is one of my favorite videos and an inspiring example of selfless love and service in a marriage.. I shared it on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, but it is too good not to share as part of this post as well.
Have you seen examples in your life of people who love each other more after a trial when one spouse has to rely 100% on the other or do you have an experience from your own life?