This is your warning that there will be adult jokes and videos, so kids, don’t read.
This came up because you know what, illness is hard on a family!
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you haven’t done marriage prep, and you will be confused. But basically, the way you express love and appreciate being loved is specific to you, and probably different from your spouse. And if you have different love languages, you have to work harder.
Let me explain. I have illness guilt.
Imagine, needing to scratch your head, and being unable to explain where. Oh, it isn’t as easy as saying “over, back, over, more to the left, no back, more, you missed it”. When I am asking it’s more like “ooar, maaahh, ooar, muuuuh uhuh weeeef, ooh maaahh, ooar, oooo muuuffehhhh ihh”. It takes five minutes, not five seconds!
I am incredibly loved. Mel takes super good care of, serving me all day. That is her love language! It’s not mine though. Do you see a problem here?
I think that is part of the illness guilt. I am no longer able to do things for Mel that meet her love language, and it is exhausting and frustrating to care for a patient all day with no gratitude, right? I can tell her how beautiful she is all day but she still has to help get the Boogers out of my nose! I love you is nice, but it doesn’t mow the lawn! Some of the things I used to be able to do to show Mel, I’m unable to do. So I feel extremely guilty, knowing that I am being taken care of out of love, and I am not reciprocating!
I know this goes for all marriages, they take work. Love is a verb, not a feeling. Believe me, the feeling changes a lot from newlywed “I get to give him a shower!” to long term relationship, “I get to give him a shower?” Love is a verb, and Mel loves me. And doesn’t complain when she gives me a shower. *
The guilt is immense because you inflict extra work on your loved ones. And that can be exhausting for them to do everything. (Ok, pause, I mean more everything than she was doing before, without asking me to help because I’m lazy. Now she can’t even ask me for help! Although, if I got a trailing mower, I could tow it around with Lively. )
And I know it goes both ways. There is healthy illness guilt. That is when you feel like you aren’t doing a good job taking care of the sicky, or frustrated that he drooled all over the floor AGAIN. Etc. This is mental health that they don’t talk about. Or maybe it seems that way.
The Catholic Church studies it though. That old fashioned group that refuses to get with the times? Yeah, they actually place value in the sick. Salvifici Doloris, written by SAINT JP2 in 1984 talks about suffering, and the sick, and gives value to them and the caretakers. Illness guilt is another form of suffering that must be taken up, as psychological suffering. He includes both, in the letter, almost prophetically realizing the mental health issues we face today for the sick and especially their caregivers!
I have to find ways I can do service for Mel. I’m still working, so there’s that. But things like rolling out in the wheelchair to be with everyone, or doing computer work for her so she doesn’t have to. That’s something! Even more, ALS is so hard because I can’t move, and I can’t talk. We used to talk for hours. (Quality time is also a shared love language, by the way. ) Now I can barely type in a sentence in the conversation without Luke screaming to wipe his bottom! So maybe I can email her more to share thoughts like I used to. Maybe not put the dish in the vicinity of the dishwasher, if you will! *
So yeah, illness guilt, goes hand in hand with the love languages. You get run down, you feel guilty, both sides! As I said before, love is a verb. And suffering, physical or mental, is a part of the salvific mystery, the Passion, which was the ultimate act of Love. So you see how it all fits in nicely! Which I totally meant to do, of course! Didn’t not see that relationship till right then, that’s for sure!
Oh, and the fifth love language isn’t “Laundry” .
*I can’t link it, it’s adults-only, but YouTube Michael MacIntyre Long term relationship for a good laugh, and a shared bit of humor that Mel and I had this week discussing these things.