22 years ago on Sunday August 15, 1999, I married Gail Halstead. As I recounted in last year’s blog post, my life plans had not worked out as I had planned. Instead God’s plans were better. It was an unusual courtship back then with Gail in Oregon and me in Colorado. Because of that distance, we did a lot of emailing. Our six month engagement turned out to be unusual too.
Two months into our engagement, I became deathly ill with Guillain Barre syndrome. Nerves disconnected and I was paralyzed from the rib cage down with other parts of my body slightly less affected. I could not close my eyes, or pucker my lips. My hands were pretty useless. I spent 2 weeks in the ICU with a total of 6 weeks in the hospital. I then spent 7 weeks recovering in a nursing home, doing physical therapy and learning to walk again. After that, I continued my recovery at home. I ended up missing six months of work. My goal was to be able to walk with one cane down the aisle to get married. That I did, however I went back to two canes after the wedding for a period of time.
In many ways, this was not totally a negative experience. It gave Gail a chance to ask if she could love a man who might remain bedridden. Yes, she decided she could. She was able to get off work and fly out to visit me more often than she would have. It was very nice to see her even though I was in bed. I had to trust her with my finances and the selling of my townhouse. It was a bonding experience for us. And it was a faith growing experience for me. I grew more aware of God’s grace and goodness during this illness.
When we became engaged, Gail started reading several books on marriage and gave me three books to read. We wanted our marriage to be successful, because it is a vow, a commitment, we make for life to each other and to God. What I learned is that marriage takes work. I also learned that Gail’s love language was very different from mine. Over the years, we have taken several marriage courses to keep our marriage going strong, and of course we were always reminded that communication is very important. About a year ago, we took another marriage course, Marriage in Christ. It is a good course and we are planning on offering it at our church. You can also take the course online.
Our marriage has turned out great. I am very happily married to Gail. Marriage does take work and commitment. You can not and should not take the other person for granted. And you need to be intentional in your marriage. They are your partner in life and with some work you can have a wonderful marriage.