Thursday, September 16, 2010

Would You Choose to Get Involved with Someone Who Has a Serious Illness?

A recent New York Times Modern Love column was about a woman who fell in love with a man who, after a few dates, told her he was HIV positive. He was also much older and a recovering alcoholic and had a teenage daughter. None of these factors were obstacles to her love and commitment. They married. He had one severe episode of AIDS-related pneumonia that almost ended his life. He recovered, and they continue loving each other. In fact, the presence of his illness helps them fight relationship complacency and not take each other for granted.

So here are my questions for you:

Did you know your partner was ill when you committed to the relationship?

If yes, did that make you hesitate?

What made you decide to commit any way?

If you knew then what you know now, would you have made the same choice?

If you chose to end the relationship early on, after finding out about your date's illness, why did you make that choice? Did you ever regret it?


Jamie Valendy said...

Well, I'm speaking as the ill partner, but these are questions that I actually discussed with my husband a week or two ago. He proposed just months before the car accident that changed my life (our lives). So, he knew me for about a year with the illness (after over 6 years without the illness) before we got married last October. He says that it never made him hesitate - he loves me for me, regardless of whatever comes our way. He says that he would choose to marry me again, in the same circumstances. I am so blessed to have such a loving a caring husband. When I told him that I felt bad because I'm not the same person he fell in love with and proposed to... he gently wiped the tears from my eyes and told me that he still loves me more each day.

Bad Caregiver said...

1. Yes, I knew he was ill. I didn't understand how ill. Then he got a lot worse.

2. It didn't. It should have.

3. Two things made me commit anyway. First, I liked him a whole lot. Second, rejecting somebody merely because he was sick seemed evil.

4. I might make the same choice, but I'd negotiate a better deal.

Tzipporah said...

No. He became sick after we were married and had a child. By that point, we'd been together about 10 years.

Dr. Deb said...

Love would make me choose the relationship. Illness or not.

Thought provoking question though!

Barbara K. said...

Thank you Jamie,Bad Caregiver,Tzipporah, and Dr. Deb. An interesting range of responses!

I would hope it wouldn't make a difference if I loved the person. But then again, if Richard had been as sick as I was when we got involved, I honestly don't think I could have borne it. I am amazed that he was able to be so selfless when I got sick.

Unique said...

I'm not sure I am strong enough to care for someone with a serious illness again.

Elaine Schattner, M.D. said...

Thank you for this post. When I was practicing, I witnessed several engagements fall apart upon a diagnosis of leukemia or breast cancer. Really it's a tough issue, especially for young people who are thinking realistically about their futures, hoping for a family, etc.

On the other hand, some stuck together. This is a very real issue that people face, not always with an easy answer.

Jaliya said...

I'm a person who has been very ill for nearly three years. Three weeks ago, my husband told me that from his perspective, our marriage is over.

I just found this blog today ... Thank you, Barbara.

Anonymous said...

> Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Would You Choose to Get Involved with Someone Who ...":
> I was just told my fiancee has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease (he told me in such a casual way that makes me mad). I confronted him as why he waited 6 months to tell me and that I have a right to chose if I stay and commit to all the hard care that a chronic illness requires or not. I am confused on his reasons on trying to avoid the talk; was he afraid that I might break the engagement? Or was he trying to attach me to be his caregiver without my consent? I'm already the only careviver for my 14 years old disable daughter...don't know if I can handle much more than this...although I'm very grateful to him because he's been very supporting, both financially and emotionally, in rasing my 4 children from my previous marriage. I am either selfish or scared...not sure.