“I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”
Wedding vows can be traced back to the 1500s. Whoever wrote the original version of the traditional vows printed above must have been clairvoyant. If he/she was not clairvoyant, he/she was smart enough to recognize that no matter who you were or who you married, crap was coming your way.
Yes, there would be good times and good health but eventually there’s going to be sickness followed by death. We are forewarned on our marriage night and commit to sticking around through the crap to come.
By now you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this morose ideation. Most people who live with a disability or chronic illness will eventually feel like they are a burden. I can tell you it’s a horrible thought and not easy to dispel.
Imagine that you’ve been married 40 years and finally reached the point where your wife has to wipe your butt. Sounds horrible? It is! In many instances, it’s a reality. Imagine you can’t take the trash out, shop for anything, dress yourself …. Yep, it happens and even the medieval author of the standard wedding vows recognized what was coming.
Let me ask you a question. Was changing your baby’s diaper a burden? Was shopping for baby food, clothes, furniture, highchair, … a burden. NO! Of course not! Caring for your beloved baby was a privilege and joy. You signed on for the task of raising your child at conception and you pretty much knew what was coming.
Caring for your beloved spouse, family member or aging friend is no different than caring for your baby. Should your baby feel like a burden? No, he/she should feel loved. Remember this if you should become ill and disabled.
Hopefully, you’ve had many years of health and joy before falling into illness. Use those memories to help you through the myriad of negative and maladaptive thoughts that will race through your head.
Also know that we live in technologically advanced times. Bidets are affordable and can clean your butt for you. There are a host of adaptive tools that will allow you to do things that once were done by healthcare aids. There are “sock assists” that help you put your own socks on. I have what I refer to as the ghost dog collar that helps me lift and cross my legs. I have a dressing stick that assists in putting on my pants. The list of home assistive devices is long and easy to find on Amazon.
As for me, I’ve been through the “burden” phase and do everything I can do independently, and then some. Renee held my hand through the self-pity phase and pointed to the marriage vows, the good years we’ve had and the good years to come. She has also stepped up big time in assuming the chores I can no longer do.
For those of you just entering the “I don’t want to be a burden stage,” you won’t as long as you do the best you can do, go to therapy as ordered and recognize that your spouse’s life has changed as much as yours. Don’t forget to help and support them.