I was living in Mexico when my (now) husband and I were dating. One day, the phone rang, my host mom came and got me, and it was him.
“So I’m not going to have milk or milk products anymore” he said casually.
“Well, that sounds like it’ll be easy and not at all inconvenient or weird” I’m sure I answered.
Actually I have no idea what I said out loud because immediately my head starting racing around. No milk? Was this really necessary? I’m sure it is. I guess we can try it. But this will be really hard. But I don’t have to give up milk, right? I mean I don’t even like milk so who cares? But milk, cheese – o cheese! That’s in everything.
Finally my mind snapped back to the conversation I was actually having. I managed to ask how his appointment had gone with the new doctor.
See, about three years before this, my husband had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The meds didn’t work for him. He didn’t feel healthy. And he was ready to try something else. After years of praying, he was introduced to a new idea.
Now, I’m certainly not here to argue treatment styles and options. I’m here to do what I always try to do – encourage you through things I’ve experienced. And being married to someone with a chronic illness certainly has some unique challenges.
So here’s what I learned from that short phone call, that has truly changed our lives : just try, be encouraging, and learn a lot.
1. Just try. Yeah, I like(d) to cook but I had basically a 6 recipe repertoire of fail-safe recipes. All of them included milk or dairy. So I had to learn to cook some new stuff. I had to learn to read labels at the grocery store. But it was fun because, since it was for him, he was totally willing to help with stuff. We actually started shopping together. And we got to experiment together. Tofu cream cheese you say? Yes, I have made that. It does not freeze well.
2. Be encouraging. You know, before that phone call, I could probably count the number of glasses of milk I drank a month on one hand. But I lived on pizza and mac-n-cheese. I knew there was no way I could give up those things and watch everyone around me still eat them, so I stopped – stopped buying it, stopped eating it, stopped talking about it. The only time I would order a pizza was if he wasn’t around for a while. So I encouraged him through my actions. But I also encouraged him through #3…
3. Learn a lot. Did you know that whey is in almost every packaged bake good? Did you know that whey, while usually being easy for even those who are dairy-intolerant to consume, is powdered during the processing, and can become difficult to digest because of the protein changes? I didn’t either. I don’t know that I would have ever cared to know that since I am trained to be a French teacher, not a dietician. But he was learning, so I learned too. He was excited to share about it, so I listened.
Now let me just say that I didn’t and don’t do any of these perfectly. It took me three years to read a cookbook he begged me to read. I still ordered pizza all the time when I was pregnant. I still get flustered about which restaurant to choose, and what to order, and can we had xyz at Thanksgiving dinner?
But I have been willing and able to walk this journey with him, and that is part of the journey of respect for me.
Now, if you looked closely, you’ll see that this is a “Part 1” post. We have been together for fives years and from that first milk-less phone call to a recent hospital stay, there has been a lot to learn about respecting my husband through this.
Think about your own marriage and a journey that has woven its path with your marriage journey. What was your first step on that journey?