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Your Marriage Vows—in Sickness and in Health

by Dr. Les Parrott

Leslie had the flu a week ago. I can’t stand it when she’s sick. I feel so helpless, like I can’t do a thing in the world to make her feel any better. I run to the store and pick up a bottle of 7-Up and some soda crackers. This last time I bought a couple of different kinds of flu medicine. “That’s so sweet,” she said to me as she sat up on the couch wrapped in a blanket.

Okay, I thought to myself, it will be another day or so and she’ll be up and at ’em. But she wasn’t. For the rest of the week she stayed in bed, sipping 7-Up from a straw and complaining that the house was too cold, then too hot, then too cold. What am I supposed to do now? I wondered. I called our doctor. He said the flu was going around and all Leslie needed was bed rest. Ugh! I wanted to do something so I wouldn’t feel so helpless. I guess that’s why I enjoy stories of couples whose love has survived a time of serious illness. And I’m a sucker for any movie about tragic love.

But there is one real-life love story that invades my mind whenever Leslie gets sick. It puts my feelings of helplessness into perspective. In Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, we told the story of Robertson McQuilkin and his wife Muriel, and it deserves repeating. The love he demonstrated for her when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is nothing less than extraordinary. Robertson was a college president who still had eight years to go before retirement. Muriel, once the host of a successful radio program, was experiencing tragic memory failure. She could not speak in sentences, only words, and often words that made little sense. But she could say one sentence, and she said it often: “I love you.” While Robertson’s friends urged him to arrange for the institutionalization of Muriel, he would not stand for it. “How could anyone love her the way I do?” asked Robertson.

Have you thought much about the part of your wedding vow that says, “To love and to honor in sickness and in health”? Robertson McQuilkin has. But not only has he thought about it, he’s lived it. Believing that being faithful to Muriel “in sickness and in health” was a matter of integrity, Robertson McQuilkin resigned his presidency, and for the thirteen years of her decline he cared for his wife full-time.

Robertson understood the words of Christ when he said, “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me” (Matt. 25:36). How about you? The next time your partner is ill, remember that it is an opportunity to put hands and feet to your marriage vows—in sickness and in health.


Taken from Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Devotional by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott. Copyright © 2017 by Les & Leslie Parrott. Used by permission of Zondervan. Click here to learn more about this title.

Every couple has a restless aching, not just to know God individually but to experience God together. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Devotional gives you a road map for cultivating rich spiritual intimacy in your relationship.

Written by the creators of the most widely used pre-marriage program in the world, this devotional includes fifty-two weekly meditations help the two of you grow closer than you’ve ever imagined.

Start building on the closeness you’ve got today – and reap the rewards of a more satisfying relationship as you enjoy the intimacy of lifelong love together.

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist and founders of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University. Their bestselling books include Love Talk, Crazy Good Sex, The Complete Guide to Marriage Mentoring, and the award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. Their work has been featured in The New York Times and USA Today, and they have appeared on CNN, O’Reilly Factor, Good Morning America, Today Show, The View, and Oprah. They live with their two sons in Seattle. Visit

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