“I have a chronic illness. It is fair for me to date and desire marriage?”
If you’ve followed my health struggles over the past year, this question is a fitting one to ask me. I have a mild autoimmune disease and nine food allergies. They aren’t little ones either; my allergies include dairy, eggs and soy. Plus, I don’t eat gluten and am also allergic to rice, so eating out is a thing of the past.
For those who ask, I tell them this: Everyone has something. If it’s not an illness, it’s a bad habit. I always strongly recommend full disclosure of what life living with your illness will be like so there aren’t any surprises. Sometimes I think my health is more of a burden on others than it really is. If your significant other doesn’t mind the challenges, embrace it.
Marriage vows even cover this. When you marry, you pledge to love and stand beside your spouse in sickness and in health. We don’t pledge to marry someone because we expect all good days. Because we live in a fallen world, we can expect sickness and imperfection. It’s no reason to hold back from the love and companionship God calls you to with a spouse.
(Last night Josh and I made some gluten-free, vegan pumpkin tarts with coconut whipped cream on top!)
I was blessed: Well before I met Josh, he had been learning about whole food nutrition and healing the body through natural means. God paired us well. He knew what I needed when He brought Josh into my life several months before I learned about my health issues.
When I started getting sick — and as I still work to manage my symptoms — Josh was able to offer advice. He helped me change my diet and find substitutes. Because he was already supportive of eating healthy foods, he changed the majority of his diet, too. For example, we don’t have cow’s milk or bread or eggs in our apartment. He switched over with me to a more vegan and completely gluten-free diet even though he didn’t have to. He willingly supported me and my well-being (although, yes, he does sneak in cheese and regular ice cream sometimes).
Your future spouse will love you for who are you as a person rooted in Christ. It’s only unfair to you if you feel called to marriage but are hesitant because of an illness. A significant other can choose whether or not they want to pursue marriage in light of your illness. I think it’s unfair to them if they still desire marriage after full disclosure and you deny them because you fear the burden you think you’ll place on them.
I asked Josh to offer some advice:
“The advice I would give to someone dealing with health issues is that they would find their identity in Christ and not be ashamed of what they’re struggling with. You aren’t any less valued or worth fighting for any less, so you can live in that freedom to hold on to your hopes and dreams and not be afraid to share those with someone else. You don’t need to feel the need to protect the other person, because that is their decision to make.
“The advice I would give to the person on the receiving end of the news is to be gracious and loving and seriously consider whether you have a strong enough trust in God to walk through life with that person with full support and care for their well-being.”
God can work all things for good. Your beauty and worth are more than skin deep. You are more than an illness, your height, acne, bad haircut or quirky habits. Don’t allow an insecurity to keep you from pursuing marriage when God gives you that desire. We may not be perfect in the world’s eyes, but to God, we’re covered by the blood of the One who is.
Copyright 2014 Amy Kessler. All rights reserved.