My name is Tom and I’m a thirty-something dude. I’m married to Brooke’s twin sister. The other vitally important piece of information you need to know about me is that I love pizza. Some said that my love for pizza would dwindle after I bade farewell to my twenties, but I soon proved such naysayers wrong. Pizza can and should have pineapple on it, and as such it accounts for at least one of your 2 & 5 a day.
You might have read about me, anonymously, in previous episodes of this blog like grated root vegetable salad with a side of gratefulness (22/2) and it’s you i love (16/3). It’s nice to be painted in such a positive light.
The reality is much more complex. Listen to this story. Before getting married I’d never had the experience of a family member living with a chronic medical condition. Only months after we were married my wife was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I didn’t know anything about IBS at the time - I assumed it meant you had an itchy butt. So you know, IBS does not mean you have an itchy butt. What you’re thinking of is Itchy Butt Syndrome (conveniently also called IBS).
Although that does sound super funny, the reality is anything but(t). IBS can, without warning, cause the entire digestive tract to slow or even stop for long periods of time, almost always resulting in stomach cramps, bloating, nausea and/or fatigue. Such symptoms can last for several weeks.
For many married couples on their wedding day, they simply assume that "in sickness and in health" means 40 years with no medical problems and worry about the rest later. I was shocked by how much I implicitly believed this myself and expected my wife to overcome sickness quickly, easily and above all cheaply. On too many occasions this expectation manifested itself as impatience and an obvious lack of empathy.
When we got married we recognised that our marriage was sustained only by the grace of God. That means it is ultimately his power, not our goodness, that empowers us to love each other the way we should. The brilliant story out of the last 18 months of marriage is that Jesus has helped both of us love each other more. It has helped me understand and care for my wife as she lives with an ongoing and painful condition.
As a Christian I believe that Jesus forgives me for the wrong I have done and for the right things I should have done but failed to do. But beyond this I also know that Jesus is transforming me to live a new life more like his own and stopping me from bumping along the bottom forever.
Although I do not love my wife as perfectly as Jesus commands (Ephesians 5:25-33), by his death and resurrection my failings are forgiven, and I am being transformed into a man who learns to take better care of his wife.
It is trust in Jesus that helps me sleep easy at night, knowing that God guards our marriage as a very valuable treasure.
This is what we had written on the inside of our wedding bands:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Thank you to my awesome brother-in-law Tom for writing this week's blog post, and for sharing his thoughts on marriage "in sickness and in health". I'm aghast at how he has made me publish the words "itchy butt" not once but now four times! Umm...?! In all seriousness, I admire the calibre of man he is; he is a man whose example is worthy to follow, as he follows the example of Jesus Christ. I am truly thankful that my sister is married to such a man.