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In Sickness as in Health
by Norman Bales

    Recently, I spent a week at home recovering from surgery. It was not a week that I will remember with great fondness. I haven’t had much experience with boredom in my entire life, but I think I must have gotten pretty close to that when I realized I was looking forward to seeing the weather report.

    Actually Ann had the tough job. For the first couple of days, I was close to being totally dependent on her. Then as I felt better I gave her a lot of trouble because I wanted to push the edge of how much I could do for myself. Sometimes I wonder why they call a sick person a patient. My lack of patience exposes me as a poor patient.

    Actually being “under-the-weather” is a piece of cake for a man, especially if he’s got someone around like Ann who alternately pampered me and threatened bodily harm if I violated doctors orders one more time. Being sick is a tough thing for a wife and a mom.

    Most mothers only allow themselves about a half a day a year to be sick. They grow weary of accumulated laundry, messes in the kitchen and children fighting over whose turn it is to clean up said messes. A husband might help out the first day of Mom’s illness, but there’s a better than even chance that he will “have” to work late on the second day. He’ll call and make his apologies. “Sorry, Hon. I know how bad you feel, but I probably won’t be home until about 10 o’clock tonight.” It doesn’t take him long to figure out the relative degree of difficulty in life’s stresses. If demands from his boss stresses him to a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, his wife’s illness will stress him to about an 11.2.

“Husbands...be considerate as your live with your wife...”
    How should a husband deal with his wife illness? This is a good time to make practical application if 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands...be considerate as your live with your wife...” It’s also a good time to think about what you promised when you promised to love your wife “in sickness as in health.” Unfortunately both of those statements tend to be somewhat abstract. Here are some concrete applications of those abstract principles.

  1. Take care of meal preparation. Learn how to cook. If you pride yourself in your ability to tinker with engines, make things, improve your golf swing, stalk game or persuade fish to attack your lure, you can learn how to cook. If you don’t want to do that, at the very least, have the decency outwitting a fish to both go by the deli and pick food that’s already prepared. If you’re too lazy to do that, you can have Pizza delivered to the house, but don’t expect your sick wife to eat it. She needs something that’s a little blander. Above all, don’t expect her to prepare food.

  2. Take charge of the children. If you’ve been an absentee father, it’s time to cancel golf dates, fishing trips and even some late night meetings at work. If you have to, take a few vacation days. Don’t fret over having to cancel a fishing trip to Canada. They boys can do it without you this year. And when you spend time with the children, make sure you’re there. Help them with homework. Make sure they get their baths. See that they’re properly dressed for school. Once I sent my daughter off to school. Her dress had a belt that had to be tied in a bow. The teacher took one look at the way I tied the bow and determined that Ann was sick that day. It would have been better to select alternate clothing. You may need to get someone to advise you about which colors go together and which ones don’t. That may not be so crucial for boys, but with girls it is absolutely essential.

  3. Take care of your wife. She’s your best and most lasting investment. How do you respond when your car runs poorly? Don’t you take it to your mechanic. If your wife needs to go to the doctor, make the appointment. If at all possible, take off from work at drive her to his office. Pick up the prescription medicines and give her as much TLC (tender loving care) as she needs. I have to issue a warning here. I’m married to a woman who has three levels of TLC need. (1) If she is seriously ill, she wants to be totally left alone to suffer in silence. (2) If she is desperately ill, she needs attention to her needs. That’s the time I need to stay home from work and give her constant attention. (3) I can always tell when she improves. She begins to complain. Your wife may respond differently. I would guess that she will give you an agenda of how she wants to be treated and I can guarantee that neglect is not on her agenda.

    Basically it all boils down to the most fundamental principle of human relations. We call it the “Golden Rule — “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). The person who shares your life deserves such consideration and she’ll never need it more than she does during a time of illness.

From the "All About Families" Newsletter.


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Copyright © 1996-99, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
© 1998 Norman Bales. Used by permission.
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