“For better or for worse, from this day forward, in sickness and in health … ” Remember those famous lines? Many couples say them when get married, but do they really understand them? Do they understand their implications and do they really mean it when they say them, especially the part about “for worse” and “in sickness”? It is much easier to love and live with someone during the good times, but so much harder when times get tough.
For it is clear that more relationships break up during times of “worse”, such as from stress suffered during recessions or perhaps the illness of a partner. This is when one of the partners can’t cope with the stains and harsh realities of the dramatic changes in their relationship and in their partner, and bail out. We all hope this doesn’t happen, but when tragic events in life do strike, the person we should all be able to turn to for love and support is our partner.
How does your partner react and treat you when you are ill?
This is perhaps the most telling as to whether they will stick with you through better or worse. When you are ill then you are at your worse physically (not so beautiful), and worse socially and emotionally (in need, and not cheerful, nor able to give of yourself during this time). When you go through illness you are at your “worst” and if your partner were able to still love and support you during this period, then it shows they love you just for you, and that they will still love you through any other problems.
Casey and Shane were engaged. Casey then got the devastating news that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery, including a mastectomy, was required immediately, then chemotherapy followed. Casey was really concerned and felt insecure about whether Shane would still want to marry her now, given what her appearance would be like after the treatment, bald and without a breast. Shane assured her everything would be fine and he loved her for who she was, and would still love her no matter what she looked like afterwards, and encouraged her to have the required treatment.
Everything that Casey dreaded about how she would look came true. She couldn’t even bring herself to look at her chest after the mastectomy with the big scar across where her breast had once been. However, Shane assured her she was still beautiful to him, her wonderful soul with whom he fell in love still shone through. After her hair grew back they had their wedding. If Shane could love her even at her lowest point, then he would love her at every stage of her life.
That is the essence of what a partner should be and what a partner is for. The good times are great but they’re easy, it’s the bad times when a person’s true nature will be revealed, separating the good partners from the “bad”, that provide the hard challenges.
Sally was dating Ian and things were great. Ian loved her for being dynamic, funny and, most importantly, lots of fun. Sally then contracted pneumonia and was laid up in hospital for a week. Ian had initially rung her up to ask her about what they were going to do that weekend, and when Sally told him she was in hospital, he did not even ask her which hospital she was in. He did not call her afterwards to ask how she was, let alone try to come and visit her in hospital.
Sally was heartbroken by his action or lack of it, but then thankfully realised how shallow his feelings for her were and she was glad she found out then, before things went any further. Needless to say when Ian called again a few weeks later to ask her if she was now up to go canoeing with him, she told him to get lost.
Don’t marry too young
We have gone over the importance of various things that you need to have in common with a partner for the relationship to work. The major factors being:
•getting along just by being yourself;
•sharing mutual values; and
•sharing mutual goals.
However, major considerations before you are even able to assess these factors are to know what your own personality, values and goals actually are. When you are young, in your teens and early twenties, adult life for you is just getting started.
As your adult personality won’t fully develop and stabilise, until you’re about 25 years old, if you happen to get along with someone at this stage, you may not necessarily get along with them if your personality does change. Therefore any relationship you start at this stage may not work out in the long term.
The other two most important factors are your values and goals in life. These usually don’t stabilise until your late 20s, when you have had a decent amount of experience in adult life and you can determine what you value and what you want out of life. If you marry before these stabilise then they may change later on when you find that you and your partner want different things out of life.
This inevitably leads to you both going your separate ways, or if you are still together, it will be with one unhappy person, as they have given up their own goals for the sake of the marriage. Therefore marriage in the late 20s or early 30s is best.
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