In sickness, in health?

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Does this line mean anything at all to men who marry us? Or do our husbands only want us when we are fit as fiddles and will dump us at the very first sign of terminal/long term illness?

Pardon me for believing that women heed this line in the wedding vows more than their husbands. It seems to men, it is a line they just lip sync without any real thought or commitment attached.
When Dorah, not her real name, of Chitungwiza started menstruating continuously, her husband of 15 years, sent an envoy from his family members with Dorah to her parents’ house so that they could find out what was wrong, get her treated and send her back to their marital home in ‘good working order’. For as long as she was still less-than-perfect, she wasn’t welcome back to the couple’s house.

A woman I know was recently divorced by her husband after she was diagnosed with psychosis. After 30 years of marriage and six children later the husband could not bear to have for a wife, a woman with mental health challenges and so sent her packing. To where? Back to her parents’ home where both her parents have long died and will have to contend with brothers and their wives who have their own families to tend to. I mean, how fair is that?
A recent article in the media told the story of a woman whose husband left her soon after their child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Oh, no sir, the husband could not bear the thought of having a child living with developmental disability as his child and so left the woman to bear it alone. More than ten years later the woman is struggling alone with a child she had with the man.
Scenarios such as this are a dime a dozen in our society with men shrugging out of the responsibility of taking care of an ailing wife or child. And yet if you flip the script: how many women have you heard of who continue to live with husbands who are mentally challenged? Till death do them part, many women stand by their ailing husbands. Even whey the husbands get handicapped through an accident or some other mishap, many wives cleave on. One can always count on the woman being there, which is more than can be said for men.

In these days of HIV infection, where couples can have discordant results — it is very common to get a wife who tests negative sticking around with a man who has tested positive for the HI virus. And yet when the opposite occurs, more often than not, the man will leave the woman without another thought.

In fact you often hear people saying stuff like, “Since his wife died his health is failing, he must find another woman to marry so that he can have someone to take care of him when he is down with sickness (agowanawo anomuchengeta).” Sickness and disability are often blamed on the woman and her kin — ndezvekumusha kwavo — it is often said. Yet when the shoe is on the other foot, the two — husband and wife — are expected to bear it together and remember that they made some vows to be together till death do them part.
Even infertility or bearing only girl children is blamed on the woman, yet Science and medicine have shown that a fair share of these predicaments can be caused by the male of the two. Those vows we parrot after the priest or pastor on our wedding days, we would do well to stop and think about them.
Let’s ponder on this? Should you today lose your mind, would your spouse stick around? Or it is goodbye, nice knowing you? In fact those of us that are yet to be married take the time to think: Am I willing to take on the responsibility of loving and caring for this person, even if he or she has become incapacitated? Is this person willing and able to take care of me when I have lost it or have become and invalid?
Of course, at the time of marriage, both of you being so vibrant and healthy such things are unimaginable, but they could very well be a reality. Give them some thought.

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