This inspiring couple chose to get married despite battling a serious health crisis
In this edition of Marriage Diaries, we hear from a couple who committed to a life of the known and unknown where one partner lives with Multiple Sclerosis.
Once the ceremonies of your Insta-worthy destination wedding are over, reality sinks in. Then starts your journey of juggling in-laws, home loans, taxes, baby diapers and late-night electricity cuts in the middle of the monsoon. Settling down seemed easy when you played The Sims. If only real life had a diamond hovering over your partner’s head to signal their mood and needs…
In this edition of Marriage Diaries, we hear from a couple who committed to a life of the known and unknown where one partner lives with a chronic illness called Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Nauman and Shirin Ahmad open up about their relationship, their responsibilities towards each other and how they’ve tackled those extreme highs and lower than lows.
Marriage Diaries: Battling chronic illness as a couple
MS runs in the family, and I was diagnosed when I was in my mid-twenties. My uncle had it and I saw the toll it took on his wife.
Whenever something could possibly turn into a romantic relationship, I always told the girl and it either made them very awkward or scared them away. Everyone has enough to deal with in their own lives, why would they put up with someone else’s problems?
I never wanted to be a burden on someone. You can’t expect them to be happy and cheerful if their spouse has a chronic illness. So marriage for me was out of the question. I couldn’t imagine even the first year going smoothly.
I met Shirin at a mutual friend’s house and we ended up spending most of the party just chatting. There was an instant attraction. After a few months, when I realised that she felt the same way and wanted to get serious, I tried to shut it down. I told her about my condition, about the days when I’m so fatigued I could barely make it out of bed or move around without a cane.
She just said, “OK we’ll manage”. I kept making her read articles about MS and living with it but she seemed unfazed. It was a strange feeling for me. No matter how much I said no to her, she kept pursuing me. We’ve been married for close to 5 years now. Some days I thank the universe for blessing me with such a life partner. On other days, I feel guilty for putting her through it —the days I feel depressed and don’t want to get out of bed. Medical bills and trips to the hospital.
I know one day I’m going to be in a wheelchair, then bedridden, and she’s going to dedicate herself to caring for me when she should be doing so much more with her life. Whenever I bring up things like this, she brushes it off, gets upset or turns it into a joke.
One time she asked what if tomorrow she had a car accident and beat me to the wheelchair, wouldn’t I look after her? She’s right, I would. But there’s a difference between the possibility of something happening and a strong probability that it will. I’m just going to focus on taking it day by day right now. I love my wife and I’m happy.
He makes it into such a sob story. I’m no saint, and neither is my husband, haan. Sometimes when he talks about this, he makes it sound like I’m doing him such a big favour. I’m not an easy person either. I have my own nakhras. When people hear of someone having a spouse with a chronic illness, they picture a couple of 80-year-olds, not people like us.
Everyone always asks, what is it like? Well, on the days he’s doing well, it feels heavenly. We go out for meals, watch movies, meet friends, the usual things. It’s hell when he is in pain, because I know there’s only so much I can do to make it better. It’s a roller coaster ride, but I had my eyes wide open when I got on it.
I think I fell for him when I first met him. He was very funny and so cute. When he told me about having MS, I was taken aback, I won’t lie. I had a lot to think about. I did a lot of reading, spoke to my friends, my parents. But when you love someone, you’re committed to being with them through it all – chronic illness or no illness. It is something worth fighting for.
When he said no, I didn’t give up. I told him there was no getting rid of me. I still don’t know for certain how I managed to finally get him around, but I think just showing up and being there for the person is what is important.
It is definitely not for everyone. I can’t blame other people for their responses to it. But I’m not a martyr either. I told him, he also has a lot to think about. It’s not just my life decision, he needs to decide If I am the person he wants around if things get bad.
The best we can do is enjoy each other’s company, love each other and make the most of it. It’s difficult, but whose life is easy? It can be challenging, yes, but I have my own support system as well. I think it’s important to take care of yourself too. My friends have been incredibly supportive and I’ve even joined a support group for caregivers.
One time, he seriously told me that if it was getting too difficult, and if I had regrets, we could end the marriage. I remember I got very angry. Does he think this little of me?
I know where our life will take us, but we’re going to do it together. For some people, it’s not a ‘conventional’ marriage. But after meeting him, I can’t imagine being with anyone else.
We’ve had the kid talk. He said he doesn’t want biological children because he doesn’t want to pass a chronic illness along to another generation. We will adopt, but it’s a slow process. We don’t mind. We’re still easing into our life together. When the time does come to bring another life into our home, I know we’ll be ready.