While the majority of people live together before choosing marriage, we didn’t. We believe that it is best to wait until after marriage and a public commitment stating that we agree to stick it out, regardless of the consequences, to be teachable, humble and to put that person’s needs above our own.
That’s where we come from and this post will center on dating-toward-marriage. However, if you believe differently and are committed to a common-law partner or girlfriend/boyfriend, I suggest you skip to the marriage section. It will be applicable while this one may not be!
The Big Question
Should a sick person date? Is it wise? Can a “significant other” actually get to know a individual when that person is anything but normal due to sickness? Can a marriage actually work when one member is so restricted and (in truth) so not themselves? Who are they? Is there possibility for healing? If so, what would the end result look like? How long would it take? Would dating help or hinder that process?
These are questions we had! The honest answer is…I don’t know the answer to any of the above questions! I can only share our struggles and experiences.
—–Question & Answer Time—–
Q1: how did your dating experience differ from a “normal” one due to health complications?
A1: I think a more appropriate question would be “were there any normal aspects to our relationship?” When dating without a diagnosis or help, there was a huge part of me that wanted to hold back. I especially (though I liked the guy very much) found it difficult to be open or vulnerable before him. I didn’t know if he was staying or leaving. It all depended on whether or not I could find help. It put a lot of pressure on me. In turn, he felt I didn’t actually like him very much. I wasn’t showing him the signs. It also complicated things because the person he was getting to know was NOT who I knew myself to be. I didn’t even know who I was at the time, so many things were changing. How do you learn about a person who isn’t even “there?”
Q2: did it help clear things up when you received a diagnosis?
A2: to a degree, yes. We realized this was a chronic issue and wasn’t going away, could calculate accordingly. But as I wasn’t comfortable with the anti-biotic route, that put us back to square one. I needed help but who, what, when, where, how…all these questions still ran through our heads! And we still had the big question: if I received help and got on top of things, what would normal life look like for me? Neither of us knew!
Q3: Did you ever experience a breakup during this time of question?
A3: not really. We were close several times, questioned and talked about it. It was easy for me to be self-absorbed and selfish. There were so MANY adjustments happening in my life at the time! Sometimes I needed to be reminded that I was focused only on self. Beyond that? As followers of Jesus Christ, we believed He would direct us if we were looking to Him. There were several times we took a week “off” without contacting one another to pray about things and see where we felt God was leading. Every time, we came back knowing for the time being, we were supposed to be together. Never assurance beyond that, just confirmation that we were in a good place.
Q4: was he supportive of your decisions for “natural” treatment?
A4: yes. He was, particularly when we could so clearly see what we believed was God’s hand opening the doors before me. He was my support (as much as possible) in those times. Wanting to join him in life gave me the incentive needed to continue natural treatments in my own home after returning from the first health center.
Q5: if you could have changed an aspect of life (aside from health) during the relationship, what would it have been?
A5: due to limited energy and brain power, I had to choose between dating this guy and my friendships. I wrestled long and hard with this one. First, I knew my dating relationship could quickly become too dependent and unhealthy. Secondly, I MISSED MY FRIENDS! After a while, they quit calling and for good reasons. What little energy I had was invested into this guy. The risk? Incredibly high! If we broke up, not only would I face hurt & loss, but I would face serious loneliness. While I did my best to keep up on other relationships, I just didn’t have the resources needed to be both girlfriend and friend. I did manage to “keep up” with my roommate and 1 other friend but it was nothing to brag of!
Q6: how did weariness and exhaustion effect your ability to hold to physical boundaries?
A6: it made it difficult to hold to our agreed standard. I was tired and just wanted to snuggle up to someone and rest. My man was attending a fairly intense Bible college and by fourth year was so burnt out he was physically growing weaker, his dad was diagnosed with leukemia AND he was dealing with this sick girlfriend. He was also exhausted and though we had agreed on where to draw the line, it was easy to go a bit beyond it. We both wanted to relax. I will say with neither of us having dated before we were rather “prim” in regards to the physical aspect of our relationship! Overstepping our agreed standard was about as much as kids do in 6th grade! But it was the principle of the thing that caught us: we agreed to a set standard but never quite held to it. It did cause some trust issue for us.
Q7: would you have gotten married if your health hadn’t improved, if you hadn’t learned how to manage it?
A7: No. I think we would have called it off. The Biblical definition of marriage is “two becoming one flesh.” How could we become one when I didn’t know myself, was not a functioning person (in body, brain or emotions)? It would be similar my fella’s marrying a 8 year old. Absurd! How could he become one with and join his life to someone like that? It’s just not possible. Plus, I wouldn’t have had what it takes to work out a marriage. There’s lots of emotional energy that goes into starting off a lifetime commitment, not to mention the physical aspect that comes into play. Relational difficulties drained me like no other. Even if my fella had been willing to move forward, I don’t think it would have been a healthy choice for me personally. I think it would have pushed my health backwards. I could barely keep my head above water dealing with my own life, let alone the life of anyone else! At that point I needed to focus on myself, on doing what I needed to do (without hindrances) in order to heal and move forward.
Q8: what advice would you give to dating couples where one individual is battling a life-changing illness?
A8: There are too many factors that play into it. I hesitate to give advice. If you have faith in God, I’d recommend praying about it, keeping your life in tune to Him, be willing to do as He directs. Also, ask for the advice of those around who you consider to be wise and caring, who know something of the situation. Beyond that, I won’t venture to give any advice. It’s too complicated!