Bruce and I had been seeing each other nearly every night for weeks and it was obvious to both of us that we were on a fast moving train to a lifetime commitment. One evening, after our nightly ritual of tending to his tender toes, I was still seated on the floor at his feet. We had been discussing life, limitations and survival. (Bruce is a stroke survivor) He became overwhelmed with emotion and began to pour his heart out.
"I didn't think," he said. "I didn't think anyone would want me."
The tears welled up in his eyes as he continued.
"Every day. I looked at myself. Every day I asked who would want this?"
He reached across his body and touched his paralyzed arm and crumbled hand. He stood and stooped over in an exagerated imitation of his stroke-effected stature. He further emphasized his point by pulling his right hand up to his chest in a seized and clenched position. "Who would want to touch this?" he had made his point and he sat again.
This man was not looking for love, not really. He was looking for respect.
Anyone who knew me before Bruce would know that respecting men did not come naturally to me. But, God asked me to respect Bruce and He assured me that it would be worth it. So far, I have been blessed beyond all imagination.
The Analogy of Respect
You get the picture.
Some people mistakenly believe that it is difficult being married to a man with disabilities - both mobility and verbal disabilities. They pull me quietly aside, sometimes, to praise me for being patient, kind, and respectful to him. I politely thank them and mutter something about how I am not the spouse that bears the burdens. I am the spouse that reaps the blessings.
I am learning, merely learning, to respect my husband. And yet, though I fail often and miserably, yet I reap a reward of marriage to a magnificent, amazing man.