Thursday, August 2, 2007

For Better or For Worse - issues for couples facing illness

We all have made “for better or for worse” contracts, often obscure ones, with the people who are primary in our lives. The contracts are concerned with the universe of commitment and responsibility that holds us in relationship with those with whom we are pledge to love, regardless of the conditions fate chucks our way. The arc of that love will inevitably collide against serious illness and may split, incinerate, or transmute to create new possibilities.

Here are some of the issues that illness forces/invites couples to consider:

  • What happens at the intersection of love and obligation?
  • How much should we do for those we love?
  • What really lies at the heart of the choices we make?
  • How do we balance our needs with those of others?
  • Are there societal and ethical issues we are morally bound to consider?
  • And most importantly, how do we live with the choices we make?

My friend and co-author, Roanne Weisman (http://www.ownyourhealth.info/), and I have been writing a book, In Sickness: A Couple’s Guide to Illness. As part of our research, we talked to many couples, surviving partners, and adult children about their experiences. In future postings, I’ll share some of their stories (all names and identifiers have been changed to protect confidentiality).

3 comments:

cev said...

Barbara,
In FOR BETTER OR WORSE you point out that...
"We all have made “for better or for worse” contracts, often obscure ones, with the people who are primary in our lives. The contracts are concerned with the universe of commitment and responsibility that holds us in relationship with those with whom we are pledge to love, regardless of the conditions fate chucks our way."
You ask...

"What happens at the intersection of love and obligation?
How much should we do for those we love?"

My wife and I adopted a baby.We loved our son before we even saw him. When I first cradled him in my arms I whispered a promise in his little ear. Until we got him home we did not understand that he was dreadfully sick.
How could we not tirelessly pursue a solution to his endless pain?
How could we not use ourselves up if we had to...all our time,all our cleverness,all of our focus in our effort to save him from his despair? Then how to justify that nothing might be left of us for his brother?
What of my promise?

cev said...

I understand that this marvelous blog is for couples experiences. We know that sometimes the "couple' is relationship between the ill and the well persons who sustain each other. Both are ailing.Both are needy. Often the ill child bolsters the spirit of the caring parent.

Barbara Kivowitz said...

Illness does live in a family context. Every motion causes ripples -- some are sustaining and some are draining. It's a lot to hold.