When two partners tie the knot, the “in sickness and in health” vow is exchanged without a moment’s hesitation. When you’re embarking on the beautiful journey of marriage and building a home together, nobody expects their life to be riddled with problems and difficulties to come along the way. They expect the rest of their married life to be just as rosy as their wedding day.
Unfortunately, there exists not a single soul whose marriage hasn’t seen its fair share of ups and downs. And those start surfacing very, very soon after the wedding day. Many come face-to-face with adversities that can make even the best of us curse our luck, and lose all hope in love or in marriage. Marriage is just not a well-paved path. But can you endure all the difficulties and rough patches that it brings with itself?
When my friend, Vee, tended to her husband with a chronic illness, she always had the words “in sickness and health” in her mind, and she stuck true to them. Read on to find out how Vee managed to stick true to the marriage vows and never left her husband’s side.
In Sickness And In Health: How My Friend Stayed True To Her Vows
Vee and I were probably the youngest in our group. We joined an NGO, working for children with disabilities soon after my husband’s posting somewhere far away. I had been drawn to Vee from the start. She’s always been warm and helpful and exuded an air of gentleness that I loved.
She introduced me to three of her colleagues with whom she was close, and the five of us became good friends. Over lunch together every day, we exchanged personal news, shared our joys and our sorrows, and also discussed our common relationship problems.
My first meeting with Vee’s husband was during a seminar organized at our institute. I learned later that he was around my age, which came as a surprise since he looked years older. He had a slow gait and pronounced stoop, and walked leaning heavily on a stick.
Knowing I was Vee’s carpool friend and lived close to their house, he invited me to drop in with my husband for a drink. My husband is one of those friendly souls who love socializing and meeting people, so we could not have said no. Fortunately, the two men got on fairly well and we began to drop in once in a while to see them.
Vee’s husband enjoyed the company but their social circle had reduced over the last few years, resulting in Vee spending more and more time at home although she loved going out.
Related Reading: How She Coped With Her Spouse’s Mental Illness
Where their troubles began
Vee once told me that years ago, they had enjoyed a brief courtship prior to the wedding after their initial meeting arranged by relatives. However, the fact that he had a progressive genetic disorder was something he omitted to mention to her before tying the knot.
Upon hearing this, I put two and two together and understood why he had a pronounced stoop. Since then that I have witnessed Vee’s battle to uphold the wedding vow “in sickness and in health”. The first signs of trouble reared their head barely a year into their marriage. As the aches and pains increased in intensity, Vee was shocked to discover that her husband had ankylosing spondylitis.
Tending to run in families, it was a disease inherited from his father. Though most people afflicted with this illness continue leading reasonably normal, productive lives, he was not one of them. As his physical condition deteriorated gradually, he was constrained to stop working and remain at home. With no regular income, money became an issue.
Staying true to the vow of ‘in sickness and in health’
Devastated at first, she slowly accepted the situation. An unforeseen accident could have also incapacitated him was how she rationalized it. Not once do I remember her blaming her fate or wallowing in self-pity. As a trained psychologist, she started professionally working in the organization where we had met.
Her husband had excellent language skills and she encouraged him to dabble in freelance work — content writing, editing —something he managed easily. But suddenly one day, he stopped without any plausible reason. He was struggling to deal with depression, as negativism set in, he became increasingly difficult to deal with as well.
Despite being pleased when Vee became the principal at our institute, he made no effort to relieve her of any responsibilities on the home front. He even refused to do the tasks that merely required a little supervision — something he could have managed quite easily. Consequently, despite her killing schedule at work and private tuition at home to supplement the income, she had to take full charge of running the house.
The daughter they were blessed with had grown into a responsible teenager but Vee found her husband metamorphosing into a rather stubborn child. Coping with his irascible temper, she would coax and cajole constantly. Despite being advised to go in for hip replacement surgery, he obstinately refused for years.
He finally agreed only after his condition deteriorated significantly. Perhaps he left it till it was too late, as complications occurred and the recovery they hoped for did not happen. Since Vee had been very insistent about him going through with this surgery, he blamed her completely for its failure.
Staying together until the very end
It seemed as though Vee was taking care of everything, without so much as needing a day to herself. I was constantly in awe of her, watching her uphold the ‘in sickness and in health’ vow that people often make but never really go through with. Between elevated responsibilities at her workplace and the tuitions she was conducting at home, she somehow also managed to take care of her husband, who was getting increasingly difficult to deal with.
Growing fatalistic and bitter, he persisted in doing everything he was advised against. Being overly possessive in the relationship, he became reluctant to let her have a life of her own. Rarely were Vee’s outings just for pleasure. But in an age when divorces take place on the most flimsy grounds, this option never occurred to Vee.
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I don’t recall hearing her ever complaining or lamenting her fate. “For better or for worse, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part,” vows to this effect are exchanged when two people enter matrimony. These are promises not everybody can honor when misfortune strikes.
Love and devotion come easy when times are good. But coping with a partner’s chronic illness requires a great level of patience and caring. Of enormous tolerance and dedication. Not many of us are blessed with that capability. Vee’s husband was bedridden for almost five years. The last couple of months were particularly agonizing before the end came as a merciful release from pain and suffering. He was in his early 50s. Vee was by his side when he died. Vee is the one who has taught me the meaning of the words, “In sickness and in health.”
“In sickness and in health” is basically a quote or a promise that a bride and groom make to each other. It means that they will be there with each other through all of life’s challenges and happiness. They will be there for each other every step of the way, irrespective of the circumstances.
Traditionally, the groom goes first and he is followed by the bride.