In Sickness and In Health.
If you’re married, there’s a good chance that you said these words (or something very similar) on your wedding day. I know that I did, and I’ve grown to realize that this is one of the most important and most difficult commitments we make when we enter into the covenant of marriage.
I’ve witnessed the “in sickness” part of marriage numerous times in the past few years with terminally ill older family members. Each time that I have shared in weeks of pain and suffering by those experiencing the “sickness,” I have been left in total admiration of those that remained at the bedside in a remarkable demonstration of support, perseverance and faith.
These experiences have literally changed me and my appreciation for marriage.
Unfortunately, I’ve really been faced with this bitter-sweet reality lately. Even though over 18 months have elapsed since his open heart surgery, my Dad has simply never recovered. He’s a lot older than my Mom, and he’s led a very hard life. The past two weeks have seen a progressive weakening of his heart and his abilities.
My Mom signed up for this gig not once, but twice. It’s a story for another day, but suffice it to say that she willingly committed her life to this man on two different occasions. She made those vows to be there in bad times, for poorer and of course in sickness. She’s experienced each for sure, but now it appears that the “Till Death Do Us Part” portion of her intentions may be come to pass sooner than any of us would like.
My Mom knew this was a likely reality when she married an older man. My Dad had to realize that his heart would cause him trouble after years of abusing his body and neglecting his health. Unfortunately, prolonged terminal illness is all too often part of life. But it still sucks.
And it must be especially grueling when you are the primary caregiver to your ailing spouse, and you know that you are sharing your last days, weeks or months with the love of your life. It’s times like this when life simply doesn’t seem fair, and we must rely on our faith to persevere.
As difficult as it is to witness these trying times, it really helps reinforce the importance of marriage as a true covenant (rather than a simple legal contract). Our spouse is not only our dedicated partner through any difficulty, they are truly part of us and share in our suffering as part of a single flesh (the two shall become one).
Of course, I will never fully understand the role of suffering and pain in our lives, but with each new experience I am better able to understand the importance and sacredness of marriage. The holiness required to serve our spouse selflessly in the face of such difficulty is truly inspiring.
I know the pain of sharing the end of our spouse’s life must be excruciating. But wouldn’t it be worse to never love anyone enough to feel deep pain when they are gone?
I have witnessed the pain that can accompany the commitment of marriage. And I am more thankful than ever for the privilege to be married to my wife and share such a powerful covenant with God.Photo by DerrickT
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.