Would you remain in a marriage where your spouse got permanently paralysed?

During one of my Dating Clinic classes, I usually ask couples, “Suppose you just got married and then one month in after your honeymoon holiday, your spouse got into a terrible accident and became permanently paralysed. They can’t walk, talk or function cognitively; they’ve become a vegetable. Suppose you are compelled to take care of them, wash them, feed them, dress them and you cannot have sex at all. Suppose the doctors say that they would remain like this forever. Would you stay in that marriage?”
Undoubtedly the right thing to say in public is yes. And majority in my sessions do say yes. But some outrightly say no. And at times it comes as a shock to their partners who say yes. I’m usually interested in the nos. I’ve always been a champion for honest conflict than dishonest harmony. The longer I listen to people give their reasons for saying no, the more I see them fall within three worldviews of marriage.
In these responses, naysayers often object how they can’t have sex and how their happily ever after has been ruined. They can’t believe that the script they had for their love life has been changed to a nursing home drama. They don’t like to think about such “negativity” because they don’t imagine such a tragedy would befall them. These things happen to other people and not them, thanks be to God.
The second group of naysayers object how the incapacitated spouse is no longer bringing anything to the table. To them, marriage is a partnership where each person contributes. When one is paralysed they become a liability to the goals of the marriage. Since the paralytic can’t provide financially, they demand more service than they offer. They slow down the success of the marriage. Naysayers in this worldview are often concerned about the time and money expenses that they were not ready to commit.
The third category of naysayers can’t imagine that the paralytic would now hinder their personal career growth and advancement in life. They can’t believe that they can’t travel the world and enjoy so many beauties that this planet has to offer. They can’t believe that all their dreams and aspirations would be relegated to becoming a nurse. They can’t believe that they would have to quit their lucrative jobs just to take care of someone. Some state, “If I was the one paralysed, I would want to set my partner free.”
The ones who say yes may look righteous, but don’t be too quick to assume. Many of them have drawback responses. They have BUTS and IFS and head-nodding producing statements such as “easier said than done,” and “We will know when the time comes.” However their drawbacks reveal the three aforementioned worldviews. And since their subconscious thoughts are settled in their drawbacks, I’m almost tempted to let them know that that’s their real worldview. I reckon that the subconscious will take preeminence when the pressure comes.
I’m saying that our generation has an overly romanticized worldview of marriage, a humanistic worldview of marriage and a narcissistic worldview of marriage; and that’s a bad thing. If you would like to hear me expound on these worldviews more, look out for my Pupose-led marriage class.
The ones who say yes unequivocally are often faced with rebuttals from the naysayers and the drawbacks such as “We’re human,” or “I’m not a bad person.” And at the heart of this self-justification is an intransigent refusal to back away from the three worldviews that are dangerous for marriage. The romanticized worldview lives in Hollywood. The worldview is not rooted in reality. It only takes an unconventional conflict to put cracks on this marriage. The humanistic worldview lives in the future. They arrived before they’ve started the journey and have made no provisions for the inconveniences of life. It only takes a little pain and suffering to start dismantling this marriage. The narcissistic worldview lives in utopia. Everything surrounds them. And it takes an instant of compelled selflessness to start to destroy this marriage. If you and your spouse hold two different worldviews from the three, that’s double weakness.
Perhaps the reason we have such worldviews is because we have a low view of marriage. The gravity of the vows we made were as important as the flavour of the cake we chose on our wedding day. A friend recently was advocating for the church to allow exit clauses when they join couples. And of course the extremes of husbands and wives murdering each other were cited. However, we all know that the extremes are not the regular reasons for divorce. A quick look at our modern marriages and you will realise that many young people have morally postured sensitivity and feelings over facts and truth. We can’t be cohabiting and expect our future marriages to work, even when social scientists (not the church) are saying that cohabitation increases likelihood of divorce. We can’t fornicate till Kingdom come and be shocked that a sinful foundation cannot produce a godly marriage. We can’t abandon God but demand his blessing. They call themselves progressives while their marriages are regressing.
The reality of the matter is that we have several people not ready for marriage who are getting married. They get married with romanticized worldviews of marriage, humanistic worldviews of marriage and narcissistic worldviews of marriage. And the biggest wonder is how everyone with these emaciated beliefs speak authoritatively like marital experts but have no working marriages to show for it. It’s more important to teach a child than to correct an adult- it’s even easier. It’s also better and easier to lay a strong foundation for marriage than to seek to edit it later. I’m asking my generation to sit down and listen. I would have said sit down, shut up and listen, but I’m cognizant that I’m dealing with a people-group that reads through a blog like this looking for something to offend them. And in a world where youth think being offended is a virtue, you have to douse your tone to convince them that you’re a lifeguard and that they are the ones drowning. Benevolent help must make a pitch in my generation.
The biblical worldview of marriage insists that one remains to take care of their cabbage spouse. And since death is the separation clause, the healthy spouse is tasked to do something more romantic than to die for their partner; they are tasked to live for them. The healthy spouse is tasked to abandon a humanistic worldview and adopt a theocentric one- where one’s devotion to their Creator supersedes any earthly benefit. The healthy spouse is tasked to think of others better than self and inconvenience their personal goals to elevate their paralysed spouse. You can’t adopt this worldview by being a good person. You adopt it by confessing that you’re not a good person. That you are dead in sin and nothing good resides in you (Romans 3:10). A biblical worldview like this does not need a better human being; it requires a new human being. To hold a biblical worldview that says till death do you part does not need one to be guilt-tripped into accepting it. It needs one to see the Gospel of Christ clearly. Jesus Christ is the romantic spouse who lived and died for the church without a drawback. Jesus Christ is the godly spouse who saw the greatest treasure in having his bride, the church as opposed to getting earthly goods. Jesus Christ is the selfless spouse who left his glory, power, majesty, honour and authority and humbled himself to live like mankind and demonstrate his love. Christ’s gospel does not come to give us moral teaching, it comes to raise us from death to life. A submission to what Christ did for you personally and accepting his sacrifice results in a spiritual regeneration, whose evidence is a transformed life that adopts a biblical worldview without hesitation. It’s God’s spirit working in the convert.

Some people believe you have no moral authority to decide such a situation unless you experience it. However, God’s plan for a man and a woman who walk down the aisle refutes that worldly wisdom. There is a lot of power in deciding in advance the right thing to do. Your vows for better for worse must have you ready to imagine the best and the worst. You don’t need to experience the worst to decide the right thing to do. If you are a believer, your confidence in making a decision in advance is pegged on the power of God in you; it is not pegged on your moral fortitude.

If you understand and accept the Gospel, your answer can be an unequivocal yes to the idea of staying with a paralysed spouse for life. Because the love of Christ compels you (2 Corinthians 5:14). The only way you can give unconditional love is to first experience it from the cross of Jesus. Christ died for you. You say you are not a bad person and he says you are damned in your sins. The people who fail to enter into the Kingdom of heaven are the proud in heart that insist they need no saviour. Jesus said that the repentant prostitutes and tax collectors will enter heaven while the “good” people of this earth with stand on their own self-justification and enter headlong into hell. And what tragedy to have a hell of a marriage and still have a hell of an eternity.


Ernest is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband, and a father. He has been married to Waturi since September 2012. They have three children- Thandiwe, Ivanna, and Theo. He is also the author of four books. The Wamboyes are passionate to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly taught and understood in our post-modern world. They are champions of biblical discipleship and furthering the Kingdom of God by transforming one person at a time. They are the founders of The Relationship Centre Ltd (TRC), an organisation that aims to promote biblical family values in contemporary urban communities.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. Gdmorning,
    I have just read this blog. Good christian worldview. For the spouse who remains I wish there was a “happy everafter” ending with real-life testimonies, a little like Joyce Meyer’s sexual abuse story (and Oprah’s and Donny McClurkin etc) which now draws people all over the world.

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