Helping Your Disabled War Vet Spouse
Rachel Cornell wrote a powerful blog post last week for the wives, husbands, parents, and friends of disabled war vets.
A blind artist, author, and speaker, Rachel gets it. When your limb, your vision, your range of motion, or half your intestines are gone, you don't "put your life back together again" -- you build a new life. You don't "get things back to normal" -- normal, as Rachel says, is just a setting on a washing machine. And no therapy can "make you whole again" -- because it's your dreams that make you whole, not your arms, legs, eyes, or guts, and no injury can destroy those. In the aftermath, you hang onto the dreams and deal with the new obstacles, or you focus on the losses and lose the dreams.
If you're married to someone learning to go after his or her dreams with a body that can't do some of the things it could do before, it's going to throw some new obstacles in the path to your dreams, too. People are going to treat your spouse differently now. And it's going to affect you. Your spouse must handle many things differently now. It's going to affect how he or she handles your relationship, too.
Expect love. It won't -- it can't -- come in the same packages as before, but it will be there. Find other ways to get the other forms of help and support you need to follow your dreams.
Assume love. Don't jump to conclusions about the meaning of a harsh or discouraging word or a change in daily rituals. You've both got a lot of adjusting to do, and you're going to overadjust a few times before you get it right.
Look for third alternatives. Honor the dreams. Respect the efforts. Don't ever think your first idea or two is all you get to choose from. Build the new rituals, the new furniture layouts, the new traditions, the new chore-sharing arrangements that build the new life and move toward the lifelong dreams that make you both whole no matter what.