Marriage Isn’t Hard Just Because I’m Sick

Bailey Vincent avatar

by Bailey Vincent |

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I wish someone actually talked about marriage.

And not just marriage to a sick person, though I am one. And not just how to fix a marriage. I don’t want someone to offer advice on what I’m doing wrong (plenty). I just want someone to talk about it honestly.

I’ve been in unhappy relationships and I’ve been in this one, and I am not in an unhappy relationship. But I’m not always in a happy one, either. Why did no one tell me this is OK?

Sometimes I daydream about a boring life. A vanilla husband. Someone who doesn’t challenge me (although my husband does think vanilla is the optimal ice cream and latte flavor, and that very much challenges me) and who doesn’t know all my damage. Someone I didn’t just send a photograph of Lanacane numbing spray to so that he can buy more at the store.

Someone who didn’t just text me the following phrase: “Although much is surely valid, I’m concerned that you may also be on a witch hunt of culpability for every wayward feeling in a pained and failing and needing intervention body.” (He said this because I was being a B, and not because the rest of my name is -ailey.)

If we could determine the success of a long-term relationship by playing slots on our cellphones (though I’m pretty sure no one calls them cellphones anymore), what would we find? And aside from the fact I literally had to Google “type of gambling where you spin machine” to make that reference, our life has been anything but vanilla.

If I close my eyes and scroll through past texts on my phone, with zero selective choice to benefit this column, I get the following: “Grabbing us Taco Bell… need anything?” Which, come to think of it, might be where this column ends, because I’m pretty sure the jury just rested its case on true love.

Still, as many of us know, once you’re an almost-decade into the patterns and Taco Bell paradigms of a particular union, you start to see past the pretty texts of this kind, and only feel micro-rejections from years of wear and tear.

JL, left, and Bailey, right (because Bailey’s always right). (Courtesy of Bailey Anne Vincent)

My parents have been together for well over half a century and I always thought I’d be the same. Many don’t even know I put half a dozen years into what was supposed to be my forever before my actual ever-after arrived. I felt like I couldn’t exhale until we surpassed that initial time served.

For a while, my brain made my first relationship feel right. I had two, in fact. Their names were Kage and Follin, and they were reason enough to stay and make anything work.

But now, I’m finally in the right kind of forever, and our Cellphone Slot Machine reveals all sorts of things no one would want to admit. “Hey, there’s no gas in the car,” I texted my partner a week ago. “Is that the one you took?” Scroll again. “Um… why is Follin holding two kittens in the photo?” (That one he sent to me on the day I adopted two shelter kittens and didn’t tell him. Disregard.) Scroll again.

We see love from afar — love in a TV show or on Instagram — and we put it on a pedestal because we want to believe in it. I know I do. (Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are the best thing to ever happen to me in 2021.)

You could wager it’s the Sick that makes it hard for us, or the two children who came with loads of trauma, or the differences above and beyond, but I think it’s the fact that no one talks about how hard it is for everyone. If we knew from a young age that nothing is vanilla and there are literal rocky roads that we don’t describe frequently enough, would we keep going? (I really can’t let this ice cream metaphor go. If he had better taste in flavors, I would. It’s his fault.)

I don’t always like what I see when I scroll through my phone right now, but I do like the person I’m talking to. And maybe that’s the takeaway. Why did no one tell me this is OK?

“Finally wrangled kids,” he writes. “Heading home.”

“What would life be without those texts?” I savor for a moment.

Scroll again.

***

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Comments

Tim Blowfield avatar

Tim Blowfield

Hi Bailey,
Thanks for your post on marriage. I see no surprises there. Marriage is a marathon with great rewards and huge trials. Does need both a good attitude, determination and work. Many fail for a great variety of reasons often involving selfishness. Living with a partner with a chronic illness does put enormous stresses on the relationship, and it certainly has with us. (We celebrated 50 years last February and have employed the help of counselors/psychiatrists/psychologists over the years). A good counselor is an asset - can greatly help getting things back on level.
Selfishness is a major issue - we all want the best for ourselves and the needs of a sick partner can be very demanding. This can put enormous stresses on a partner some of whom may not cope and opt out rather than seek help. Better I believe is to seek help - we now have Anthony, a great psychologist, attached to our local CF Unit.
Interesting is that our experience has verified the old biblical maxim ' It is better to give than receive'. I love the advice of the Apostle Paul that is often misinterpreted to teach the 'supremacy of men'. yes Paul does talk of 'man being head of the household' and 'wives - submit to you husbands' and these are too often used to excuse men dominating women. But the passage starts with the instruction 'husbands, love your wife' but it does not end there, It continues 'just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her'. What an instruction - How did Christ love the Church - he died for it, gave his all for it even his life. What an ideal for a husband to do for his wife - not domination but determination to love and serve her.
At our wedding I promised ' tell death us do part'. That not only takes love but determination, determination to love, to understand the best I can, to forgive and so on.
50+ years - I am glad we have persevered!
How can I encourage you?

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Paul & Debbie avatar

Paul & Debbie

Live in the Now. It is a much heard message, but not many understand fully what it means. The Now is mostly misunderstood to mean the things that happen in the now. But the now is not that - it is "that in which everything happens". The unknowable substratum that is the foundation of Being. So, we don't need to love or embrace everything that happens in the now, we can very much struggle with that on a mundane level, and still Be. The Joy of being conscious.

It is the same with marriage. Marriage doesn't mean everything that happens in the relationship. It is the unknowable and magic bond that is underlying everything that happens to the partners, that is the foundation of Being Married. So, we don't need to love or embrace everything that happens in that relationship. We can and most likely occasionally will struggle with that dynamic on a day-to-day level, and still Be very much - and happily - Married.

We don't have to be worried by all those mundane happenings, we can let them be. And know that they are only relatively important. Because the underlying current is always flowing, the intuitive knowing that we belong together and cannot imagine anything more profound and joyful than going through life together. No matter what happens. This is what marriage really is.

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