Tuesday, July 17, 2007
On Having a Supportive Husband
My husband is, as my extended family says, "a gem." He began a relationship with me knowing full-well about cystic fibrosis. Although he couldn't possibly have understood it in all its mucus-producing glory, he took it upon himself to learn what he could about it. Throughout out dating years, he was introduced to more of the day-to-day aspects of managing the disease. If there was ever anything about it he didn't understand, he asked me.
I did my best not to overload him with information or frightening statistics. I often reminded him (and myself!) that cystic fibrosis can be quite different in presentation from one patient to the next. Some people are able to enjoy a long period of mild symptoms, while others are hit hard by infections early in life and experienced a rapid decline of health. For the most part, he and I were learning alongside one another about my particular form of the disease.
When we got married four years ago, we had more things to learn about how to manage cystic fibrosis together as a couple. For most of my life I had been utterly discrete about many aspects of it. For example, it wasn't until we were married that my husband actually saw me take my enzymes before meals. He knew I took them, but I had developed such a stealth system of taking my medication that I was able to have that part of myself proceed virtually undetected. One of the other things that he didn't see until we were married was the whole tune-up (IV medication) regime and all it involved.
Once we were officially husband and wife, we not only learned about all of each other's idiosyncrasies, but also the ways we expressed support and encouragement. Brad had to learn that I didn't want him to say "are you okay" after every cough. I had to learn to let him help me do the things that I had previously been very independent about. Together we have learned that a successful marriage requires that we each allow ourselves to be completely vulnerable to the other. I feel most supported by my husband when he listens to me. I can admit to my husband when CF frustrates, exhausts, or depresses me. These are thoughts and feelings that no one else in my life has access to. Whenever he thinks I'm being too pessimistic or stubborn about my never-ending parade of treatments and doctor appointments, he says so. He never passes judgment on my feelings, but simply allows me to express them.
Brad is becoming increasingly knowledgeable about cystic fibrosis and how it affects me. He offers to pick up dinner when he sees that I'm not quite feeling my best. He tolerates my inability to be a perfect homemaker. He understands that sometimes it's more important that I take a nap than spend time folding the laundry. We work together as a team to ensure that our household runs smoothly. He does everything in his power to support us on the emotional, spiritual and financial levels. He encourages me to put my gifts and abilities to good use in the workplace, but he knows that my health will always come first.
My husband is a blessing to me. He and I have made a lot of difficult decisions together. We've laughed, cried, smiled, grimaced and even dropped our jaws in awe at the things that have happened in the short time we've been married. My husband is a man of incredible virtue and character; he demonstrates that in the way he handles himself in our marriage. Even if I didn't have cystic fibrosis, I believe he would still amaze me in how he manages the variable aspects of life. The presence of cystic fibrosis in our marriage has, in many ways, served as a means for God to allow Brad's character to shine brightly. This is why he's a gem. This is why I'm proud to call him my husband.
I love you, Brad.