A handicap keeps us from doing some things we want to do. We can make choices that reduce its impact. We can substitute almost-as-good options for our first choices. Still, we will have a sense of loss, regret about what might have been. For example, a friend’s wife cannot fully pursue her university teaching career due to her spouse’s medical condition. She has accepted this, with occasional regret. He wishes it needn’t be this way, but they agree that it must.
A calling is something we have dedicated our lives to doing. It takes us beyond mere conventional living. Viewed that way, helping a spouse who has a disability can make one feel special, make one’s marriage special, if you remain committed to each other.
An old joke goes that in a ham-and-egg sandwich, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.
We applaud kids participating in Special Olympics and similar sporting events conducted for children with disabilities. In baseball, their joys and our cheers are intense even if the batting and fielding averages are not impressive. In football, their touchdowns are as gleefully celebrated as those scored by high school and college athletes. We measure achievements in part by the level of difficulty as compared with the native abilities of the participants.
Remaining a loving and mutually supportive couple despite the losses due to illness is a goal worthy of being your calling. “All noble things are as difficult as they are rare,” wrote the 17th Century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. A calling often involves nobility, unusual excellence of character. Helping one’s partner survive—better yet, thrive—despite the losses due to multiple sclerosis is a calling, one that is difficult, rare, and noble.
If your marriage has become your calling, congratulate yourself. You deserve to.