What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Mahatma Gandhi  once said, “If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.”  Pat Robertson is one of those Christians he was talking about.  Yesterday morning I read about Robertson saying that is was okay to divorce your spouse if he or she has Alzheimer’s disease because sufferers are “like a walking death.”  I’m wondering how he would feel about someone who has had a stroke and can’t communicate.  Or a spouse with ALS.  That requires full-time care at the latter stage and we know the ultimate outcome, so why wait around for it?  In fact, maybe we should ask Mr. Robertson for a list of diseases that would qualify as marriage busters.

I’m trying to get this straight.  Does Mr. Robertson feel that once the mind is gone, our commitment is over?  Let someone else, even strangers, care for the shell that once was my spouse and let me get a divorce so I can get on with my life and have some fun? Excuse me, Mr. Robertson, but I don’t think you understand what true love is all about.

Thankfully, I have no one in my family who had Alzheimer’s, but I have had several close friends who had to deal with it in theirs.  I can only imagine how difficult it is to go through that with a loved one.  Staying committed to your spouse until the very end is a testament to the strength and depth of your love for each other.

Life doesn’t deal us a good hand sometimes.  How we play that hand shows what kind of people we are.  It has nothing to do with being a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Jew, or any other faith.  It has to do with being human.  Christ was fully human.  That was the miracle.

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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40 Responses to What’s Love Got to Do With It?

  1. I couldn’t believe someone could make a statement like that until I checked out the link. It’s so sad! Like you, I can’t imagine leaving a loved one in such time of need! Thanks for posting this.

  2. My mom stayed in touch with a couple that were her neighbors as she was growing up.( Her parents’ friends.) His wife had Alzheimers and he lovingly cared for her for years. His children finally talked him into finding a facility that could provide care and give him some relief. He was in his eighties and they were worried about his health. She wasn’t in that facility for six months when he brought her back home. His life just wasn’t complete without her.
    Personal character is about what you do with the life that is dealt to you. Your post says it so well.

    • comingeast says:

      Thank you so much, LDC. I think it is very appropriate to place a loved one in an Alzheimer’s facility when it gets too hard to care for him or her at home, especially if the caretaker is elderly. But usually you hear about people doing that and visiting their loved one every week or several times a week until that loved one has died. To divorce that person because they have a terrible illness is what I object to. Thanks so much, LDC.

      • You are absolutely right. I really didn’t intend to make it sound like I felt caring for an ailing loved one at home was the only or even the best option. I just believe true commitment doesn’t end when the going gets tough. You said is so well when you said, “Staying committed to your spouse until the very end is a testament to the strength and depth of your love for each other.” My mom’s neighbor obviously felt that way, I, too, was disgusted when I heard about Pat Robertson’s comments.

      • comingeast says:

        I knew what you meant, LDC, and I totally agree with you.

  3. I was very saddened to hear that Mr. Robertson made such statements. People in positions of authority need to be sure not to think out loud. It’s irresponsible. I thought that surely this must be the case in this instance, but alas, it appears that he has thought it through, and still believes this very shallow idea of love. One thing I do find interesting though is how many of the people casting stones at Mr. Robertson have divorced for no reason at all…

  4. oldereyes says:

    I heard an interesting take on what Robertson said. It was suggested that what he was actually saying was that of the two wrong choices, staying married but cheating or divorcing her then having a relationship with another, the divorcing first was less odious. I’m no fan of Robertson, but when I heard an audio of what he said, that interpretation seemed like a possibility. Of course, in addition to the moral issue, a very real issue is continuing to provide care and company, since regular visitors, whether recognized or not, significantly improve Alzheimer’s patients state of mind. I certainly agree that neither choice is morally right.

    • comingeast says:

      I think he was probably trying to say that, too, Bud, but by opening that door, that it is preferable to divorce and have another relationship was better than cheating, he implied that it was morally acceptable. In his position, as a so-called “spiritual leader,” which I don’t think he is, I think he should have been talking about what true love is, not what true love isn’t. Glad you agree that neither choice is morally right. I know you would tenderly care for Muri, no matter what illness befell her, as I would do the same for George.

  5. This is cold and unfeeling. I used to watch his show but have long since moved on. Glad i did now. great post and well written.

  6. yen says:

    What???? I can’t believe he said that until I checked out the link. It’s still “”til death do us part” for me whether that person is sick with Alzheimer’s or whatever disease he might name as excusable. My paternal grandmother is sick with Alzheimer’s. When our loved ones are at their lowest point, I’d say that’s the best time for us to be there for them.

    • comingeast says:

      Thanks for your comment, Yen. I had to laugh when you said you couldn’t believe what PR said until you checked out the link. It’s because it sounds so unbelievable, doesn’t it!

  7. judithhb says:

    Well said Susan. I cant imagine that you will leave your George if he gets one of those illnesses. My mother had Alzheimer’s and father visited her several times each week for years even though she didn’t know him. True love personified!

  8. Leah says:

    Amen! What a ridiculous thing to say (Mr. Robertson, that is). I can only imagine how awful it is to deal with Alzheimers. But really, wouldn’t you love that person so much you would only want to bring them comfort?

  9. Glad I’m not the only one bothered by this! I couldn’t believe it.
    Sending a Liebster your way over at my site. Thanks for your lovely, lovely blog.

  10. Patti Ross says:

    Thanks for posting this! Once again I find myself agreeing with Gandhi. If love cannot stay strong through sickness or health, what chance does fatih have?

  11. Amy says:

    My father-in-law had taken care of my mother-in-law who had Alzheimer for 12 years. When he couldn’t help her physically, he hired an assistant. Love has a lot to do with responsibility, and “life has to do with being human”. Great post, Susan!

  12. You hit the nail right on the head. You said it all. Important post.

  13. I’ve never understood him. So I pay no attention to what he says. But don’t take that to mean I’m critical of you writing a post on it, since your point isn’t really about Pat Robertson. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and my grandfather never wavered in honoring her request from long ago that she never be put in a home. She should have been, in all honesty; she needed care that was different from what he could give, himself, at an advanced age. But she lived with him at home, even when she didn’t know it, and through tantrums and flying ceramics and so many long distance and nonsense 911 calls that she ran up hundreds of dollars in bills, he never gave in. He never lost sight of the woman he loved. The day she died, she looked at him and said, “I’m sorry.” He said back, “For what?” I hope someone loves me that much some day. rather than just giving up on me.

  14. Wow. I shouldn’t be shocked over what ‘spiritual leader’ sometimes say, but I always am. My grandma had Alzheimer’s and it took a long time for the disease to kill her. My grandfather stayed by her side till the very end. It was a beautiful picture of love for me and my kids to see.

    “Staying committed to your spouse until the very end is a testament to the strength and depth of your love for each other.” This is so very true.

  15. E.C. says:

    I read the article last evening about PR’s latest bs. As I understand it, you’ve got it right: apparently, in his opinion, when the mind is gone it’s a death and the person, you took an oath before God to Love and cherish til death do you part, is gone. I think it’s one of the cruelest ideologies I’ve heard him spout. I disagree with him and think he should be ashamed of himself.

  16. Margie says:

    My mom died from ALS, my dad’s second wife from Alzheimers. He cared for my mom right to the end. He cared for his second wife up until a month before she died, which was quite a feat for an 85 year old man!
    I think it is unfortunate that many people in society today think marriage is as disposable as yesterdays trash. What kind of Fairy Tale life do people think marriage offers?

  17. Amen! I heard about his statement and immediately thought the same things as you. Boggles my mind. Let’s see, what part of “til death do us part” in marriage vows did Mr. Robertson forget? As a believer in Christ, I greatly disagree with Robertson’s view. Last time I checked, the Apostle Paul wrote these words in the Bible: “It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” -1 Corinthians 13:7-8. Always perseveres. (Even when your spouse has a debilitating illness.) That’s the part that jumps off the page at me. Good post, CE!

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