What would you do if the person you fell in love with just wasn’t the same person anymore? Nate Bagley interviews a man who has lived this.
“For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. Until death do you part.”
When most people speak these words, they are filled with love, overcome with emotion, and surrounded by the people they love most in the world.
Making a promise to stick with each other without any knowledge of the incredibly daunting trials potentially up ahead is truly an act of courage, hope, trust, and of course, love.
It’s not until the first unexpected wave of reality comes crashing down upon us that we realize what those words truly mean.
For Jim, it was the day his wife came out of surgery.
It had only been a short time since doctors found a brain tumor. At that point, they had only been married for 10 years. Ten wonderful, love-filled years. Of course, they chose to preserve her life by undergoing an operation, in hopes of successfully removing the tumor.
The operation was successful, which was a huge relief. After such an intensely terrifying experience, all you want to do is life slip back into normalcy for a while.
But as the days rolled by, Jim began to realize that life was not going to go back to normal. Despite the successful removal of the tumor, something was not quite right. His wife was not the same person he had fallen in love with and married.
Her personality had been altered as a result of the surgery.
Jim found himself married to a completely different woman than the woman he fell in love with.
She had lost some of the traits he appreciated most in her.
When he promised to love and support her through sickness and health, until death, I’m sure this was the last thing that he ever thought would happen.
Despite the difficulty of the situation, Jim didn’t give up on the love of his life.
For over 30 years, he stood by his wife. He’s filled in the gaps her mental challenge has created. He took a more active role in the homemaking, and in rearing their children. He has learned to exercise patience with her memory loss. He has taken classes with her. He has traveled the world with her to create new memories. He has provided for her, cared for her, and loved her.
In a recent podcast interview, Jim said about the relationship he now has with his wife, “She still has feelings and dreams and aspirations. I just try to help her meet those, and bring joy to her life… It makes me happy when she’s happy.”
Many people have given up their marriages for more trivial, less dire reasons. Jim stands as a witness that love, however difficult, is not only possible in the hard times, but also rewarding.
“When a couple gets married, life goes from ‘me and you’ to ‘us.’ And, you need to remember the ‘us’ throughout your marriage. If you ever get to the point where you start thinking ‘me and you’ again, you’re on a slippery slope…you could always find somebody ‘better’ than the person you married, but you love the person you marry.”
When love becomes difficult, do you think: “What’s best for me?,” or, “What’s best for us?” True love can and will thrive when the pinnacle of happiness for you is when you’re able to make the one you love most in the world happy.
Originally appeared at The Loveumentary