"In sickness and in health" sometimes really means "in health or else." It's nice to know that there are many people who take their vows seriously, not just because it's the right thing to do but because they want to ...
YALE: My 59-year marriage was loving and caring but not easy. Shortly after we married, my wife was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Over the years, she lost her sight because of drugs she was prescribed and became terribly deformed (for want of a better word) and could barely stand. She couldn't feed or dress herself, sit up, turn over or go to the toilet. She spent most of her time in a wheelchair or lying in bed. And there was, of course, the pain.
During all this time, she never complained. In fact, she used to help others. I'm sure she's up there, somewhere, doing just that.
If couples really liked and loved each other, illness wouldn't change it. My wife and I loved each other to the end.
JON: I met my wife in Saudi Arabia. She taught French to the children of one of the Saudi princesses. I had designed and built a golf course in the country and been asked to stay on and manage the facility. After knowing each other for only six months, we married. Now, 15 years later, we're still happily married. But, what has happened in between is remarkable.
I'm 72; my wife is 50. When I retired, we moved to Las Vegas and bought our dream house on a golf course. During that year, I was diagnosed with heart problems that required the insertion of a pacemaker. The medication that I was prescribed affected me adversely, and, thinking I was going to die, I asked my wife to sell our home and for us to move back to Morocco, her home country, where she could be with family if I were to pass.
Then I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. We moved back to the U.S. so I could be treated at the Veterans Affairs hospital. I was cured after a number of operations.
A few years later, we moved to California, where I'm from. This past year, I've undergone radiation therapy as well as surgery for skin cancer, and I am now scheduled for open-heart surgery.
Through all this, my wife has stuck by me, nurtured me, supported me and assured me that everything is going to work out and we will be OK. This has been a particularly difficult time for me. I was never sick a day in my life until these episodes, and I'm sure that without her support and love, I wouldn't be here today.
I consider myself very lucky to have met and married this lady, and with the assurance of the doctors, we should have many years left together to play golf and enjoy life.
How has illness tested your relationship? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not.