Sometimes I catch people looking at me in sympathy and you can read in their eyes that the path I have chosen is too much of a sacrifice but what they don’t seem to understand is that I did in fact choose this life. No, I did not go out and look for someone who I knew would someday become disabled. In fact, I was very reluctant to marry anyone after my first marriage ended.
When my first husband left, he explained he had never loved me but thought I would make a good mother for his children so he married me…then realized that wasn’t enough. Therefore, after being burned in that fire, I wasn’t so sure marriage was for me. I wanted companionship and I wanted someone who was a man of faith and had strong family values. I wanted mutual sharing and participation in our marriage.
The way I met Lynn was through answering his personal ad in the paper. I screened him as he screened me for two hours during that first phone call. I prayed about continuing to see him and it seemed that I had the green light. We dated for about four years before we got married. Neither of us was in a hurry because both of us had bad experiences the first go-round. I in fact prayed often to ask God, “are you sure he’s the one I should be with?” We actually have very little in common except for our faith and family values. Was that enough? God seemed to be saying, “yes.” Even on my wedding day, I kept wondering, “should I really do this? We are SO very different, how will we ever make this work?” but I took a leap of faith and moved on.
The first few years were very hard as we tried to blend our families and lifestyles. Those differences I was afraid of were really hard to adapt to. We really struggled and both of us wondered during that time if we had made a mistake. We just could not intertwine our lives it seemed. We each kept ourselves at a distance; I guess both were afraid it would not work.
My biggest issue with our marriage was that he did not need me. By nature, I “care” for people. I do things for them; that’s how I show my love. I couldn’t really do anything for him. He didn’t need me and I felt shut out. Then he got MS and though he was still physically able, he needed me. He needed my support; my reassurance and my understanding.
I think he had a fear though, at least initially I think he did, that I would get frustrated and leave. He often talked about how he didn’t want me to get too isolated or fed up with him because he didn’t want me to leave. I think he finally understands now that I have no intention of leaving. God gave me a caregivers’ heart. I don’t mind being a caregiver. I like being needed in fact. I don’t mean that I don’t get frustrated and that I never want to escape; no, I feel like that nearly every day. What I mean though is that we have a bond that we will not break now.
Lynn needs me. He needs my companionship. He needs my help. He needs my participation in his life. So now I have what I was looking for when I first got married. I feel wanted and appreciated and needed. His illness meets my needs in a way. I guess that sounds sick to some but I don’t think so. I think God is very wise. He knew what I needed and he knew what Lynn was going to need, and he put us together. He gave us both perseverance and commitment to make it through the tough years so that now we both have what he intended us to have. We are truly one now. We are each a part of the other.
I know many marriages break up when one of the partners becomes disabled. I can see how it could easily happen. It’s really hard to be the strong one all the time and to dedicate your life to the comfort of someone else, but when I said, “in sickness and in health…till death we do part,” I meant every word of it. I’m in it for the long haul whether that’s this year or twenty years from now, he’s stuck with me because I’m not going anywhere.