The Power of ‘I Do’: What Makes Our Marriage Successful

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by Carlos Briceño |

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Recently, I was discussing the meaning of marriage with a young couple, who told me they heard marriage can be defined three different ways: One is where both people say, “I do.” The second way is, “I do … do I?” And the third is, “I do — until I don’t.”

My wife, Jill, and I are celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary this month, and I promise that her diagnosis as gene-positive for Huntington’s disease (HD) will never shake my vows of “I do.”

I remember the day she opened up to me, while we were still dating, about what could be her future. Because HD is a rare disease, it made sense that I hadn’t heard of it.

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At that point, Jill hadn’t undergone genetic testing yet. She told me she had a 50% chance of developing HD because her father was gene-positive for it. She wanted me to have a real understanding of the disease and how much work is involved in caregiving. Jill understood this vividly because, at the time, she was caring for her dad, who was in the late stages of HD.

She also wondered aloud if I didn’t want to date her anymore. In her mind, no one willingly signs up to take care of someone who might suffer and die way too young from a rare disease.

She was essentially asking, “Will you still love me and be willing to take care of me one day, knowing what you know now?”

Jill is a remarkable and extremely lovable woman. To stop loving her would have been like stopping my heart from beating. I said that whatever our future was, we would face it together.

In 2018, when Jill was tested for HD, she learned that she will suffer the same way her father did. As we sat in the tiny room waiting for her results, I flashed back to the conversation we had while dating. I looked at her and said that whatever the test revealed, it wasn’t more powerful than our love.

Love is an emotion. But emotions fluctuate, which often leads people to go back and forth in how they feel toward their partner. “I do … do I?”

My marriage is not solely based on emotion. It involves action — sincerely giving ourselves to each other. In other words, a lasting and fulfilling marriage requires selfless actions. Jill taught me this because she is the most unselfish person I know.

She also taught me that “I do” always wins over “I don’t.”

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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