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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her care of The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.