I’ve thought it many times since my wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis: I want to outlive my wife so I can take of her. I’ve always known exactly what I mean by this. And it’s simple.

I want to be here to care for her as long as she lives. I don’t want her to face life without me because I don’t trust anyone else to care for her as well as I will. No one else could be as good for her as I am. (Okay, all you psychologists out there ignore my savior complex).

In fact, I know I could be wrong. I can imagine a scenario in which I die before her and she marries an incredibly wealthy neurologist who specializes in MS and who has the money and medical skills required to provide for all of her needs. Yes, I can imagine that, but I don’t believe it’s very likely.

So I intend to be around for a long while.

This desire to outlive a partner with MS is common among caregiving spouses. And it’s typically based on the caregivers’ love of his or her partner. This desire manifests itself in a caregiver’s realization that he or she must take care of his or her own health. (It goes back to the oxygen mask metaphor I used in I’m an MS Caregiver).

Here’s how my desire to always be here for my wife works for me: I watch my diet, I pay attention to stress, I avoid risky behaviors, I get an annual physical. You know what I mean. I do all the things I should do to improve my odds of living long and healthy.

But living longer than her holds an implication I try ignore. It’s there in the dark, hiding in the shadows in a back corner of my mind. And it’s this: if I outlive her, I’ll be left behind without her for a period of time. I’ll be lonely. I know this is true.

Perhaps it’s a protective thing my mind does, but I simply can’t imagine life without her. I find it difficult to imagine life without her because she’s so present for me now. And believe me, living in the joy of the present is a wonderful thing!

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4 Comments on The Implication in the Dark

  1. Patrick says:

    Well said!

    Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

  2. Rostand says:

    That’s absolutely the most wonderful thing I’ve read in a long time and are sentiments and concerns both I AND my husband have discussed. Bottom line is we have no say in the matter and that’s ok. May God bless you and your family always!

  3. Josh says:

    I wish I loved my wife that much. I am committed for the long haul. I’ll never leave. But I don’t have joyful, loving heart very often. I serve mostly out of duty and in honor of an oathe I took. We are young and just starting. I can already see her deteriorating. I know I have a long life of work ahead of me. I am sick of talking about MS all the time. I wish I had a partner working together to build a good life for ourselves and our children. Instead I have another dependant who complicates everything and makes everything in life more difficult. I find myself already looking forward to it being over. I know it sounds horrible. But I find myself thinking it a lot. It’s not romantic to me to watch my wife lose function over the years then to die slowly in a bed with pneumonia. I just want it to be over . so myself and my children can have more normal lives. I can honestly say that MS has ruined just about everything. I know many people have it much much worse then we do. But it is also true that my family’s life would be incredibly better without MS.

  4. Rosieluv says:

    I also am deeply in love with my husband. He is gentle, kind and caring. he always does his best and is a wonderful father. he doesn’t seem able to be a good husband anymore. I am lonely and do not feel like a woman with a partner. he says he still loves me but never touches me, kisses me or expresses emotion. I am so sad. I am only 50 but we live like we are much older. I dread the day he goes into care. I cry when I think about it. how do others cope with this long goog-bye? I will never leave him.

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