As a child of divorce, I always had a tainted view of marriage and am still surprised that I took the plunge and said yes to the dress in 2005.
Marriage came with ups and downs and you really do not think about the sickness and in health bit until shit hits the fan.
Through most of the marriage, I was the caretaker of all and sundry including helping my husband manage some major health crises and of course caring for the children and the house oh and working on and off throughout, too.
When I was diagnosed, I had no clue how anything would play out in terms of my appointment scheduling, surgery recovery, chemo, radiation etc etc. It is not just oh I have two weeks where I will be out of commission; it is more like a year of being unable to function at a normal level.
At one of my chemo appointments, the nurses were telling us about someone who had just stopped coming to treatment and it had turned out that the husband left her during the process and she could no longer get to treatment. Once the hospital found out, they arranged for her to have transportation and help but it was a jarring example of this whole "burnout" that can happen to the caregiver spouse.
And I get it because for many years, I was the caregiver and it does lead to an issue with having a "normal" marriage; although no married couple I know has a "normal" marriage - no one really knows what that means even, I guess.
Shortly after I began chemo, I had to let my husband know that I now could no longer divorce him; that for many years, my plan had been to be alone and single and now I realize that he is someone that is a true partner and a wonderful human being. See, being married makes you forget all that.
Marriage is just built in gender roles and resentment - it was not until I needed him more than I ever did before that he was able to step up and be a true partner to me and I am not the sappy type but yet I find myself near tears thinking about how much he has done to just be there and help me through this. If I even think for a second that I will not make it, he gently taps my cheek and reminds me that the surgery removed the cancer and the treatments will make it stay away (God willing).
I do not know the impact of breast cancer on all marriages but I can say that all things considered when I think about the before diagnosis picture of my marriage I can say that the after picture is much better.
I am not someone who is sappy or over romantic but I know that having my husband step up and be there for me has been an amazing wake up call to the reality of my marriage vows and makes me want not want to be alone and single in the future.
He takes time every day to tell me I am beautiful and desirable - despite the fact that I am bald and missing a boob. This is what I do in the time between - realize how important relationships are and how lucky I am that I have someone in sickness and in health despite the fact that I never ever appreciated being married before.
I hope your partner is there for you and if not a partner then friends or other relatives. No one should go through this alone; if you need someone, I am here for you!
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