When you get married and take your vows, the idea of for better or worse is understandable. However, we don’t think much about the “in sickness and health part.” When the worst happens, and an unexpected situation occurs that causes your life to change drastically, you start dealing with the new normal. As a couple, you spend a lot of thought on how your role changes in your marriage. Therefore, we found it is imperative to remember you are a part of a forever team, a partnership, one of a pair, or a part of a whole. You hope that love endures through every bump in the road and as a result you refer to your vows and hold them in the highest regard. I split my focus between hoping that I’m not a burden on my spouse and finding creative ways to gain more independence when applicable. It’s important that each day I try not to minimize the mental, and physical impact my husband is now enduring. Mental check-ins with him are critical. We have a safe zone in which it’s okay to cry, scream, or discuss your frustrations without the other party passing judgement or attempting to fix it. This time is utilized as strictly a check-in to vent with no consequence. We have found this to be extremely successful and have recommended this to couples in similar situations.
Our love at iLevel® really was enhanced with the delivery of the iLevel power wheelchair. During the onset of my diagnosis, I was very withdrawn and stayed home most of the time. I felt small or even sometimes invisible at my doctor visits. I’ve had several situations in which people would ask my husband if I would like coffee, or ask “how does she feel” when I was right next to him. My husband always made it a point of referring them to me as he did not know the answer. When I received the iLevel wheelchair our marriage changed for the better. We began to date again. After being together for 27 years, we both agreed dating is as important now as it was when we first met. I have utilized the iLevel wheelchair to plan surprise candle lit dinners, as I am now able reach items in the kitchen cabinets. We have gone on dates to virtual reality rooms, escape rooms, and self-defense classes because I am now the same height as most others in the class. This was all made possible by the iLevel wheelchair which gave me a new lease on life; My social life and our marriage.
You never know how strong a relationship is until it’s truly tested by enormous pressure. We are learning every day that the promise we made on our wedding day is stronger than we imagined. You see, our situation has changed because of sickness but the health of our love has never been stronger. He still holds my hand while we walk in the mall. We still tease each other like we have for the past 27 years. The light we bring each other to the dark days of trouble shines as brightly as ever. Although our bodies are becoming weak with the passage of time, our joined souls endure. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help or to lean on someone else but when you have love it’s much easier to ask and accept. True love is almost never 50/50, sometimes you give some and sometimes you take more. We have learned that love will endure and having faith in a higher power makes it possible to fulfill our committment to each other. We lean on other couples as mentors and even mentor others ourselves. The goal is to keep learning and keep loving. We always make it a point of seeing each other as equal and worthy of each other’s love and effort. We love on each level but more importantly we love at iLevel!
About Merlisha Henderson: Merlisha lives in Arizona with her family. As a wife, mother and disability advocate in her community, she stays active and independent, working toward bringing equality and access to all. Click here to learn more about Merlisha.