Tuesday, November 13, 2007

State Of The Union

Marriage is a b*tch. Every married person knows that, we just don't want the single people out there to find out because misery loves company. My marriage is not better or worse (that's like a pun or something) than anyone else's. The divorce rate in the U.S. is about 50% (it is slightly higher in the U.K.) but when one partner is diagnosed with a chronic disease it jumps to around 75%. I am going to take a stab in the dark and say that you are not surprised by that nugget of statistics there. I am so tired of hearing, "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health" from those who are not suffering from a chronic disabling disease, that is just as hard on the pocketbook. I know what my marriage vows are, I was there and I even have it on tape somewhere if I need to refresh my memory, but I do not like to be told what they are by people who have no idea what it is like to be in this position--mom and my mother-in-law, I'm looking at you! Marriage is hard anyway, but when the dynamics of your relationship change dramatically it can become much harder quickly. My husband and I were outdoors types who camped, hiked, and spent long days in a boat fishing. Now I don't camp because a tent and me do not mix, I would need help getting up and down, I don't hike because I will trip over the smallest uneven spot so all paths have to be accessible, and I can't spend long days in a boat fishing because I can't take the sun on me all day and can't sit in one position like that because I get bad leg cramps. My mother and mother-in-law were both raised in the belief that marriage is forever--no matter what. My mother-in-law has been married for over 45 years to a drunk that has spent their money, destroyed their house and things in drunken rages, roughed her and her boys up, and had multiple accidents while drunk, yet divorce is a sin. My mother will hang on to marriage because divorce is wrong, no matter how unhappy that marriage is. So how do you explain to people like this things such as:

When one partner can no longer hold up their end of the 50/50 responsibilities? When the other one has to pick up all the slack?

When the incomes become income and you cost more than that income to have around and the guilty feelings it gives you?

When you no longer have the energy for the life you built together?

Wondering if it embarrasses your spouse to be seen with you (I know that sounds harsh, but I worry about that sometimes).

The stress on the other person of having a spouse with a progressing disability. What is it doing to them to watch you suffer?

The planning for a totally different future from what you had hoped for.

Wondering if you should let them go so they can find someone to share life with, not just a spectator (again, may sound harsh but I worry about this one)?

So I do understand my marriage vows, but there was no way to see this curve ball coming and I am not always sure of what the right answer is. I can totally understand why the divorce rate jumps so high. Chronic progressive disabling diseases take their toll not only on ourselves but everything we are involved with. Walk a mile in my shoes, then tell me what I should do, not trying to sound bitter because I'm not--I'm just as confused as anyone else.


Anonymous said...

i am a husband of a lady who has all of what you describe.our marriage hangs by a tenous thread. if you like her hrbour these thoughts then give them up they are distructive. if your husband hasnt left he is there for the long haul....let him live and help you

Anonymous said...

I am the wife of a man who has MS. He is getting worse, the physical stuff is hard on him but it's causing him to pull away from me. Not sure if he feels it's unfair or something or just figures he has a right to close up in on himself. It's very hard to sit and watch someone you love just shut down. If our marriage fails it will be because he pushes me out of it, not because I leave him. And he is pushing hard these days.