This is a post that expands an issue that I lightly touched on last week: the meaning of “For better or for worse”. As I said in last week’s post, I believe that this is something worth reflecting on and remembering often, for the sake of keeping in balance a consideration of “self-interest in marriage” which I believe is also healthy and necessary.
A case study
As I hope to be considering this issue on an ongoing basis, I also hope to be actively looking out for case studies of ongoing sacrificial love in marriage. For now, I will link once again to the story I linked to last week.
The Story of Ian and Larissa: from “Desiring God”
Brief summary: Ian and Larissa are a young married couple. When they first met, fell in love and got engaged they were both healthy and active individuals. However, before they got married Ian was involved in an accident which left him mentally incapacitated and disabled. They went ahead to get married. However Larissa is now the carer for her husband.
While this story represents sacrificial love as expressed within marriage, in a way it does not truly correspond to the meaning of “for better or for worse” as Ian was already disabled before they got married, and they knew what they were entering into before they made the commitment of marriage. If however their wedding had found them both able-bodied, and the accident had happened after their wedding, then that would be a case of “for better or for worse”. However this story still is an example of people choosing to go ahead when they know that their marriage will no longer correspond to the dreams that they have cultivated for so long.
I honestly don’t know whether I would be able to do what Larissa did. I guess if she felt that this was what God was leading her to do then that would have provided strength. To me it seems as if she went ahead to form an exclusive commitment to Ian knowing that he might never be able to satisfy needs which most people would consider legitimate in marriage AND she would never be able to look to anyone else to satisfy them either. If they had been married before the accident then in a way you could argue that she did not really have a choice but to continue on. But she did have a choice and she went ahead to surrender her own needs for the sake of the man that she loves.
So because of this I find this story all the more moving. I can’t help being struck by that level of commitment to putting someone else first. And I know it also happens the other way around. I remember a story I saw on TV about a woman who lost all her limbs to an aggressive flesh-eating disease and her husband faithfully and lovingly invested so much time to looking after her, not seeming to think about himself in the slightest. It was not as if he presented himself as making this big tremendous sacrifice. It was like it did not occur to him to demonstrate any other mindset or to act in any other way. He also worked tirelessly to make sure that she survived (if I remember correctly, if I am not reading too much into my positive memories of the story) and this was after she had already lost all her limbs and was therefore arguably of little worth as a wife. I think pragmatically in this situation, many spouses would quietly prefer that their spouses would just die outright, and that they would thereby be released to get on with their own lives.
That said, I guess you don’t know how you will necessarily behave until you get into that situation yourself. This is not something that I am praying for for myself or anyone else that I know. However, I grew up in a family where after God, family meant so much. I hope it is fair to say that we would all have dropped everything to lovingly look after one another. I hope it is fair to say that we would all have persevered endlessly in faith, and kept trusting God for healing, no matter how hopeless the situation may have seemed.
1 Corinthians 13v4:
Love is patient, love is kind.
Photo of wedding figurines by Efraim Stochter on Pixabay