When we took our vows, we promised to love each other in sickness and health, for richer or for poorer, forsaking all others, until death do we part. We have shared in sermons and in our Life Together Forever seminars that it is our heart’s desire to be with each other to the very end.
To wake up one morning and have a discussion about whether or not Roy has the right upper dentures.
To chase each other around the room with our walkers.
We want to be there for each other for the very end.
This past year we have seen the marriages of people we love end well. Devra’s parents marriage showed us to how to love to the very end when her father passed this summer.
David and Wanda met at Lubbock’s “Hi-D-Ho” and soon began dating. They married with parents blessings and began life together forever. Their love was a testament to God’s design for marriage. Before their 50th Anniversary, David was diagnosed with lung cancer. Wanda was by his side every day in the struggle over the next five years.
Wanda kept her vows in what would soon become an almost exclusive one way relationship. She cared for him and learned as much by experience about the medical profession as any nurse has ever learned in college. Even in his final hours, Wanda was there by his side loving him well.
Over the years we have met many spouse’s like Wanda, spouses who keep their vows and love their spouse so much that they are with them to the very end. What an incredible love!
According to CareGiver.Org, the number of people receiving home health from paid caregiving organizations is increasing as Babyboomers age. In those married couples who stay with it to the very end, the caregiving spouse spends an average of about 40 hours a week dedicated to caring for their ill spouse. In a recent study of caregivers of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, almost 15 million people gave 17 billion hours of unpaid care to the person they love.
We think caregiving spouses are incredible examples of the kind of love that we want… a love to the very end. It is the kind of love that the Apostle Paul talks about in I Corinthians 13. And it is the love that drives our desire to put good research based Christian marriage tools in the hands of couples every where.
According to WellSpouse.org, there are three stages to the caregiver’s journey.
- Heroic Stage. After learning that your spouse is ill and will require constant care, the caregiving spouse puts every need of their spouse above their own. Frequently family and those who know what is going on provide encouragement regularly and offers to help. Sometimes these efforts are about some type of hope in a cure.
- Ambivalence. Your love and sense of commitment to your spouse has driven you to neglect your own needs and self care. So you feel exhausted and financial concerns begin to mount. Intimacy is impossible or difficult and you don’t see a future. You think about getting out. Efforts to compartmentalize your life begin to set in and some spouses suffer total burnout, which forces them to make real life adjustments to his or her life.
- New Normal. Your love for your spouse expressed in long hours of caretaking is balanced with a good plan for taking care of yourself. You realize that you are in a marathon, not a spring. Faith, prayer, physical exercise, becoming educated about caregiving and finding support at church and beyond make up this phase.
If you are a caregiving spouse, you are modeling to your family, friends and the world the kind of lifelong commitment that too many in this world are missing. Thank you for showing us how to love to the very end.
For the rest of us, what a great example of Life Together Forever. Being around caregiving spouses and seeing the example of this couples relationship puts our petty disagreements in perspective. What seems like a huge and difficult problem is reduced to a small minor bump on our life together forever road.
What do you have to say?
We love to hear from readers. Do you know a couple who loved well to the very end? Are you committed to your marriage “until death do us part”? Do you know a caregiving spouse who needs your encouragement? What other suggestions you would add to this article? Do you know someone you need to forward this article to?
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2016. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.