Marriage vows are promises that we make to our soon-to-be spouses during the wedding ceremony. Most of us say these things with all intentions of reaching 'until death do us part'... But, what happens when "in sickness and in health" becomes a relevant vow much earlier than you expected?
Do you stay or walk away?
This was the case in my marriage. Three years ago, in 2012, when I married my best friend I didn't really expect to have many issues since we were both in our 20's and seemed to be in tip-top shape. Little did I know that about one year into our marriage a heart problem that my wife had a while back would decide to rear its ugly head again. A few doctor visits and an internal heart scope discovered that there was actually nothing to fear and that her heart was in great shape after all.
*Sigh of Relief*
The health scares were over...
Until one day in 2014, when she found out that she had a large nodule growing on her thyroid gland. We were told that in most cases they were harmless, but in some case they could be cancerous. I don't know about you, but "Your wife may have thyroid cancer" was not particularly high up on my list of things that I ever wanted to hear.
Over the course of another year she had to go to the hospital numerous times for painful biopsy procedures, consultations, ultrasounds and x-rays. All of which failed to give a clear and concise diagnosis, and this meant that surgery was the only option since it was still growing. She ended up getting half of her thyroid removed in 2015 and I am happy to report that it was diagnosed as a non-cancerous mass.
I know that I told you guys that I don't love my wife, but that is beyond false. These ordeals actually helped me become a better husband and played a part in making our marriage stronger during the process. I realized that 4 simple truths helped me get through everything we experienced and I wanted to share them with you.
1. It's not their fault.
One of the first things I had to do was help my wife understand that what she was going through was not her fault. She was understandably upset a lot of the time because she didn't think it was fair that she had to experience something so serious at such a young age. She would also constantly apologize to me because she believed that she was damaged goods and that she wasn't the woman I signed up to spend the rest of my life with. To me, that sounded crazy because I knew that I loved her no matter what. There are some men out there that would leave their wives if anything was wrong with them though so I could understand her fear. I had to assure her that I was not one of those men and I would never leave her during her time of need because I meant my vows.
2. Be there for them.
I had to really dig deep and keep my wife's needs in the forefront before, during and after her surgery. I did whatever was necessary to make sure that she was comfortable and taken care of. I handled everything around the house and didn't complain while I did it. That's important to remember, do not complain. Your spouse probably already feels bad enough that you're in the position that you have to cater to them in the first place -- complaining will do nothing but make them feel worse. The last thing you want to do is make them feel as if they are a burden.
3. Be understanding.
If nothing else, I have learned that you have to develop patience very quickly within a marriage. It is all too common for partners to become frustrated with each other in the midst of extremely stressful situations. Staying level headed and showing empathy goes a long way. At the end of the day my wife really appreciated the fact that I didn't let her stress affect me in any type of way that would cause me to get frustrated with her.
4. Always be ready for anything.
I think the most valuable thing I learned was how important it is to be ready for anything. You can never predict how a relationship will turn out, and that's part of the beauty of it. I think that some people paint out a perfect picture of how things are supposed to be and if they don't happen exactly that way, they can't handle the deviation and immediately head for the exit. I chose to put my faith in God and in the belief that my wife and I could handle whatever was to come because we would work through it together. I never let myself view the health issues as her problem -- it was always our problem, and now it's our story.