Comment of the Week: “In Sickness” Is a Scary Prospect

photo via Flickr

When we published the latest installment of “The Virgin Diaries” by Katherine Chen, we suspected she’d take some flak in the comments section, since her position seems so extreme: basically “marriage will never be for me because I could never put someone before myself.” So we were kinda surprised when Jennifer wholeheartedly (and though-provokingly) concurred:

I totally relate to this post. My dad was slowly dying for 10 years and while my mother still worked (someone had to), she did pretty much give up on having a life for years. I think people who haven’t seen someone do this and haven’t done it themselves don’t get what it’s like. It’s quite a mental transition from life partner to well… giant adult baby’s caregiver and you have to wipe their butt all the time. It’s not something you think about when you sign up (and in the case of the author and me, since it happened to a parent, we definitely didn’t sign up). Caregiving feels like it eats your soul. You feel massive guilt if you aren’t utterly self-sacrificing and even want to say, eat or take a shower when the sick one needs you 24-7. And given the state of healthcare today, you won’t be able to afford a home health aide, so it will be ALL ON YOU.

Don’t rag on her for not feeling enthusiastic about signing up for this. If and when it happens to your life partner, you’re going to be STUCK doing it, and everyone will think you are the world’s biggest asshole if you aren’t 100% self-sacrificing and enthusiastic about it. (Example: The Dive From Clausen’s Pier)

It gives me pause about settling down for life too, even if I was getting laid (you stay classy, Johnny). My last ex had health problems that could have led to something like this, and when I expressed my concerns about it, he just brushed me off and said, “You’ll be fine!” Sure, you say that now, but in the moment….

“In sickness” is a scary prospect, folks.


  1. Spent the last 5 years watching someone I loved go thru this, She pasted away in Jan. 2011. I worked and did for her. It is not something that you can just walk away from, this is your partner. They may have been healthy in the beginning, but something happens and they look to you. You end up going from sharing everything around the house to doing everything around the house. Then, poof, they are no longer with you and you are lost as to who you are or what you want to do. Sure you keep living, but now you have to start your life over again. After 26 years with her, it is a hard thing to figure out what you want to do and a scary thing too, but if you have the strenght to take care of them, then you should be able to get on with your life, it does make you a stronger person.
    Yes, the “in sickness and health” is scary, but if you love that person, the scaryness will go away, just make sure you give them all the love and kindness you can, because they may get well or they may not and then all you have is the wonderful memories of the good times. You would be suprised what you can do for some one you love and care for when it is needed.

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