Warmest regards: The joys of having a helpmate
By Pattie Mihalik
For years I’ve read stories claiming married people live longer.
Again this week two news outlets featured studies showing married couples live longer, more satisfying lives.
Concentrating on the male point of view, Harvard Men’s Health published a major study supporting the theory that married men are healthier and live longer than unmarried men or those who lost a spouse through death or divorce.
It also concluded that the longer men are married, the greater their advantage over unmarried peers.
When I read that the first thought that came to me was of course married men are healthier — their wives take care of them.
Of course men eat better when their wives are there to do the cooking. And many men are healthier because their wives nag them to see a doctor instead of ignoring troubling symptoms.
Whenever I read studies glorifying married life, my own thought is that it’s true only if the marriage is more satisfying that stressful.
I can’t picture any physical or emotional advantage to living in a home filled with fights and rancor.
A close friend of mine who has been divorced for years claims even a stressful marriage has its own advantages.
“I’ve been single, married, divorced and single again — lived though every stage. Even though my marriage was extremely stressful, I can tell you it’s hard to beat the benefit of living with someone,” she says.
To me, she appears to be one of the most competent women I know, driving a motorcycle and captaining her own boat. She’s very active with so many friends that’s it’s hard to schedule time with her because she’s always on the go.
Yet, she admits to being lonely. “No matter how busy you are or how many activities you have, it still amounts to feeling lonely when you come home to no one,” she says.
Another married friend reminds us there are plenty of married people who are lonely, too, because they don’t get the companionship they crave.
So, which is better? Married or single?
If you follow the issue on the Internet, you’ll find surveys that support both sides.
Counter to what the major health studies show, CBS claims single women live longer than married ones.
It’s all just opinion and doesn’t have much relevance in the long run because each of us has different circumstances. When circumstances change, feelings can change.
I have always enjoyed married life. Never changed my opinion on that. After I lost my husband of over 42 years and then married again later in life, I had one big take-away from those years — marriage is too precious a gift to be taken for granted.
Because both David and I experienced the loss of a spouse, we know what a blessing we have in each other.
What we both appreciate most is having someone who enjoys the same kind of lifestyle. We’re both very active and thrive best being outdoors.
Sharing a passion for kayaking is what brought us together in the first place. If it rains and we’re confined indoors for more than a day, we’re like wilted flowers in need of water.
Occasionally, I wondered what would happen if we were forced to live a sedentary life without being able to do the activities we both love.
This month, we found out.
A few weeks ago David had a bad biking accident. He had to be sidelined for weeks while he healed.
My heartfelt thanks go out to the many readers who wrote to say they were praying for him. The good news is he is healing far better than anyone anticipated.
When they say it’s hard to keep a good man down, they must have had him in mind. This week he got on his bike again.
Now, I’ve had my own forced activity when the bronchitis I got hit with in Italy kept getting worse, regardless of treatment.
At first I kept pushing, trying to swim and stay active. But it only made me worse.
After four weeks of treatment, I’m still sick. I finally had to admit the doctors are right. I can’t get better unless I rest, rest, rest.
David has been a wonderful helpmate through all this. When I was having trouble remembering which pills I took, he devised a helpful system to eliminate that problem. And he pushed me to see a specialist.
That’s when I started to recall the recent surveys about married versus unmarried.
This week I am finding anew the joys of having a helpmate.
I learned that our married life is more than just sharing fun activities together.
Sometimes it’s rushing someone to the emergency room and waiting on him until he can get back to doing things for himself.
And sometimes it’s badgering a wife to see another specialist when the first doctor isn’t helping.
It’s the comfort of having someone care about you.
Sometimes showing your care and concern means cooking a big meal he enjoys, even though you don’t feel up to it.
And sometimes it’s fixing the screen door so she stops complaining about mosquitoes getting in.
It’s the simple stuff as well as the big stuff.
It’s having someone to talk with at all times.
Most of all, it’s knowing you don’t need a survey to recognize the joys of having someone by your side.
What’s your opinion?
Contact Pattie Mihalik at firstname.lastname@example.org.