Saturday, September 18, 2010

Making Life Decisions

A link to the following "Dear Carolyn" column showed up in my Google Alerts this morning. I find the line of questioning of the submitter to be interesting. It is true that many people are afraid of chronic illness and people are definitely afraid of multiple sclerosis.  Heck, people who have MS are often fearful of the future too, but if we have the unconditional support of a loved one, the road will be less difficult.  This is true for any challenge which arises on this journey called life.

So what do you think of the question the submitter poses below?  In what extent should chronic illness factor in on the decision to spend your life with someone?

Friend is setting self up for difficult road ahead

Dear Carolyn:
          A friend of mine is getting married to a woman who has multiple sclerosis. His family is very upset by this fact (along with a few other issues they have with his bride-to-be). Should something like having a chronic illness even be a consideration when choosing the person to spend the rest of your life with? I wonder if my friend is setting himself up for a very difficult road ahead.

Carolyn: Of course he is. And, of course a chronic illness should be a serious consideration -- your friend would be doing this woman no favors if he didn't take her prognosis heavily into account -- but for many people it's not a make-or-break consideration.

The way you pose your question, I'm not sure whether the "difficult road" you anticipate is the multiple sclerosis, or the disapproving family. Either way, you're right. However, there are plenty of people who think the toughest road would be the one traveled without the person they love.

Now, it's not as if illness spins jerks into gold; if your friend's family has legitimate concerns about the fiancee's character, then I do hope they'll spell this out for him.

But if your friend feels, eyes open, that his fiancee is the one he wants at his side, and if his family's objection is to her illness (with the "few other issues" thrown out there as a fig leaf), then all I can say is, shame on them. Even though I utterly loathe that expression.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at or write to her care of The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


  1. If I were the couple I'd be more fearful of the family than MS

  2. I ran into a similar situation... As I've written on my blog, my husband and I will be babysitting for my little grandbaby 1 or 2 days a week. My SIL's sister recently made a comment (I was not present) about the safety of leaving the baby with someone like me. Outsiders just don't get it.
    For the person in question here -- I, too, would be more concerned about the new in-laws, but I'd leave the decision-making up to the couple.

  3. I agree with both of you. I'd be much more concerned about the new in-laws and extended family.

    Muffie, I love reading about your grandbaby visits. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for all involved. I'm sorry that the sister of your SIL is one of those who doesn't get it. Hopefully being witness to what a wonderful thing this is will help to open her awareness.

    I have sorta the opposite situation. Rob's mother says that his and my relationship is our business. However, I've been expecting some "next steps" to occur for at the least the past 2 years. I finally tried to talk about this with her more recently but got nowhere.

    Rob's friends are equally non-invasive when it comes to expressing opinions or putting mild pressure on Rob to get on with it. I've become rather frustrated (and sad) with this situation and have been putting off making any big decisions about what MY next step should be.

    As a result, I think I pay more attention to discussions of relationships where one person lives with a serious chronic illness. One very nice thing about Rob is that he is amazingly supportive and accepting of my health challenges. He is willing to step up and help with physical things, even if he has to be told what to do or how to do it. (His mom trained him well in this regard.)


    My in laws were devils. When I got cancer I could see a skip in their step. Sorry for them, I survived.
    When I met my partner SHE was the sick one, ERs, surgeries, etc., she warned me day I met her. I gave it deep consideration and simply could not live with ME had I left her at that point for THAT reason. I thought I would be a caregiver my whole life. I could NOT leave the side of such a wonderful soul. But on that day of decision, it was about MY soul and who I wanted to be. I made the right decison. Been tough? Oh yeah, EVERY YEAR of 31 years. But I look in the mirror and see a person looking back whom I am proud of. We don't get to chose a lot in life, but we can chose who we are and how we live.