Marriage is a journey navigated with compromise and understanding

A columnist reflects on how much he and his wife have grown in 15 years

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by Carlos Briceño |

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Fifteen years of marriage have taught me that compromise and understanding remain at the heart of a strong relationship. These elements have become more important since Jill’s diagnosis of Huntington’s disease in 2018. As I reflect on our life since then, I realize how much we have grown individually and as a couple.

Marriage is a dance where sometimes I’ve led and sometimes I’ve followed, but we’ve always moved in harmony with each other. When Jill was diagnosed, it felt like our dance floor had shifted beneath us. The steps we once knew well became uncertain, and we had to learn a new rhythm, which was defined by compromise, patience, and an unwavering commitment to each other.

Compromise is not easy, especially when faced with the unpredictable nature of Huntington’s. Jill’s symptoms vary from day to day, so we’ve had to adjust our expectations and find a balance that fits her needs and mine. It’s a daily process of give and take, of finding new ways to support each other.

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One of the most significant compromises has been adjusting our roles within our marriage. Tasks that Jill once handled with ease have become more challenging. For example, she’s what I call my “tip calculator.” Because I’m terrible at math, when the check comes at a restaurant, she’s always calculated how much money to tip the server. That doesn’t occur now because she can’t do math in her head anymore. This is an example of a cognitive decline, which is typical of people with Huntington’s.

Thankfully, understanding is the cornerstone of our relationship. It goes beyond knowing what the other person needs. It’s about empathizing with their experience and being willing to adapt.

Because both of us have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Jill and I know the importance of understanding each other’s challenges. We have developed a language of support that prioritizes kindness and patience, which has prepared us for the additional challenges posed by Huntington’s. We’ve learned to be flexible, to forgive ourselves and each other for the moments when things don’t go as planned, and to celebrate the small victories.

Despite the challenges, Jill and I have found ways to keep our relationship vibrant. We cherish the small moments of joy — whether it’s a quiet evening at home, a walk in Washington, D.C., or laughing at my puns. (For the record, I wish she laughed at my puns. She always just rolls her eyes.) I’m grateful for all our good and bad moments together, because ultimately, compromise and understanding in a marriage aren’t strategies — they’re acts of love.

To anyone facing similar challenges, remember that you’re not alone. Marriage is a journey of two hearts learning to beat as one, even when the rhythm changes. Embrace the compromises, seek understanding, and hold on to the love that brought you together. It is this love that will see you through the toughest times and help you deal with whatever Huntington’s throws your way.

Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


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