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I think there is more than one way to look at this tried and true marriage vow.  We all know the usual way, that we will continue to love and be faithful in spite of our spouse’s illness.  It’s commendable.  It’s decent.  It’s expected.

But what if I’m the one who’s sick?  I think I should be able to expect certain things of my spouse, if not practically everyone around me.  I’m sick, after all.  I deserve pity and pampering.  I should be able to be grouchy or feel sorry for myself and not have to think about anyone else.  My illness is about me, not them.

And here’s the point:  I – ME – I am to love, in sickness and in health, even if I’m the one who is sick!  This is revolutionary.  This changes everything.

I’m not advocating a life of pretending.  I’m not asking anyone to downplay their pain, or to hide their needs.  What I’m calling for is thoughtfulness of those around you.  Yes, I’m expanding this beyond marriage.  Why not extend this to our children, our parents, our friends and neighbors as well?

If I am sick (and I have been very sick), I can still bless others.  I can ask about their day, I can write notes of encouragement, I can pray for them, I can still be useful, and I can probably still be cheerful.

There’s something that happens when we do this:  we feel better.  There’s something about dwelling on our problems that makes them worse.  There’s something about focusing on others that helps us forget our woes for a bit.

Try it next time you find yourself “in sickness.”  After all, if you’re married, you promised!

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There is a very romantic notion which says that there is one and only one life companion, spouse, soul mate, for each of us.  If we are people of faith, we might say there is one person God has in mind for us, and we ask Him to lead us to that one.  Granted, that places a very high value on that one we find, and we cherish that person, believing they were created especially for us and we for them.

What I want to do is disassemble this belief, and for very good reasons.  Please hear me out.

Let’s live in this scenario for just a moment.  I have married the man of my dreams, and believe he is all God has intended for him to be.  He believes the same of me.  Somewhere along the line, sooner or later, my vision will clear – probably about the time he regains his clarity as well.  At that point, and it most likely will progress slowly, we will begin to blame someone.  Usually it is the other spouse, because they did not measure up to what God certainly wanted for each of us.  After all, doesn’t He want the best for us, and isn’t He able to choose well?

Or let’s take it to the next level.  I think we will weary of blaming our spouse and believing he or she will improve with time.  Now it’s time to blame the One who brought us together:  God Himself.  What was He thinking?  Does He even care?  Is He even there?

I’m sure you’ll agree that neither of these scenarios is helpful.  I believe the only logical and healthy perspective is one that takes responsibility for one’s own choice.  This is the one I have chosen and I will love, no matter what.  I will be the best spouse I can be so that he will be satisfied with his choice in me as well.

And from the logical standpoint, all it takes is for one person in the history of humanity to make the wrong choice and the whole thing is off kilter.  From then on, the rest of us are having to settle for less than perfect.  It’s the old domino effect, once again.

My point is not to take the romance out of marriage, but to have a healthy perspective of who we are and who we married.  We are real people who married other real people.  We are capable of life-long love if we take the time to nurture and cherish that which we’ve chosen.  Soul-mates are more often made than found.

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