Monday, April 18, 2016

In Sickness and In Health

So many people take the “In Sickness and In Health” portion of their wedding vows for granted. It’s a thing that you say, but not everyone really thinks about what it means, how it can shape your whole life.

They think that they’ll mostly be healthy and that vow will really only mean wiping up puke a couple of times, nuking a couple cans of soup, picking up a few tissues.

But it’s not just that. And it’s not just the health of your partner that you need to think about. It’s your kids, and their kids, and their family, and your family, and your friends, and their friends. You’d be surprised at how many other peoples’ well-being can affect your relationship. You’d be surprised at the things you wouldn’t think you’d have to sacrifice when you’re up there, repeating those vows, full of tears and hope.

“In Sickness and In Health” means that you hold your wife when she collapses from the grief of her latest miscarriage. It means enduring months and months of invasive and uncomfortable and expensive fertility treatments in the hope that you can one day hold the baby you’ve been dreaming of for years. It means that you have to do all of the grocery shopping and all of the cooking and all of the cleaning when she has to be on bedrest or she and your baby might die.

“In Sickness and In Health” means that you spend your 26th wedding anniversary in a hospital waiting room while your wife’s nephew has half his clavicle and his entire left arm amputated in a vain attempt to stop his cancer from spreading.

“In Sickness and In Health” means driving your mother-in-law to colonoscopy appointments and sitting with her while the anesthesia wears off.

“In Sickness and In Health” means that you spend hours helping your girlfriend download music for her friend who is on bedrest so that she can send a care package.

“In Sickness and In Health” means watching your wife’s witty, kind, jovial father turn into a shell of his former self as he wastes away from Alzheimer’s. It means watching your husband’s sweet, funny, spirited grandmother do the same.

“In Sickness and In Health” means having to protect your wife from her mentally ill mother.

“In Sickness and In Health” means you sit with your father-in-law as his cancer slowly steals him away and listen to the war stories he never told anyone else.

“In Sickness and In Health” means taking a friend’s infant twins for a week so she can say goodbye and bury her mother.

“In Sickness and In Health” means letting your new husband’s cousin and his mother have a mother/son dance at your wedding, because he’s dying and they won’t get to have one of their own.

"In Sickness and In Health" means taking in your wife's cousins' kids because the cousin has a drug problem and can't care for them. 

Your vows and your marriage and the choices and the sacrifices you make are about you and your spouse, but they're about so much more than you and your spouse, and the ripples can be so large. When the storms of life are raging, hold tight to one another, hold tight to the vows you made, and remember that they're big, but your love is bigger.