One of the traditional marriage vow designs says that we will remain faithful "in sickness and in health." Well, these last two weeks have been a real test of that at my house. I have been the sick one. I am beginning to get over it, I think, but I have been really sick for two weeks. 

I realize (not being totally ignorant) that this has not been a pleasant two weeks for my wife either. I have been hacking and coughing my way through every day, taking a lot of naps, unable to sleep at night because of the coughing. I have been tired (worn out really) and have not felt like carrying on any conversation at all. I have not been a pleasant companion. 

These kind of events (and greater ones with greater illnesses) are a real test of our commitment to our marriages. Too often, we have almost a daily barometer of our relationships and, if we feel bad about it one day, we are depressed about it. I think this is primarily true early in relationships, but have seen and heard of it much longer relationships. 

The main thing is to remember that people are sometimes sick. And when a person is sick, that person is not going to be very thoughtful or loving. He (or she) is not going to be really patient or interested in listening to your various concerns. He (or she) is not going to do a lot of chores or share in a lot of conversations. It is going to be like being married to a bad husband or a bad wife, because all that makes him or her a good spouse is taken up in his or her illness. 

Remember, at those times, your vows from long ago. You married him not because he would always be happy and healthy, but because you wanted to commit your life to his life. His illnesses are a real test of what kind of wife you are going to be. Will you fix meals for a sick man? Will you keep him to his medications and put up with nights racked by coughing? At what point will you demand your "own time" and just want to get away?

I sometimes look at these short illnesses as a preparation. I am in my 50's now. More serious health issues are around the corner for both my wife and me. Soon, perhaps, it will not be two weeks of a virus but many weeks of chemotherapy that we have to face. Instead of days of illness, it may be days of total misery. We may, one day, have to take one another through radiation treatments or major surgeries. We may, one day, have to sit beside a spouse with Alzheimer's, who no longer knows us. 

How are you doing with the little illnesses that come along in this life? If two weeks of a bad cold or the flu is hard on you, what will you do with real illness?

It is a serious thought to be thought through seriously. Marriage is not just about support offered to you, but about support you offer to someone else. 

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