Today, my husband Tom and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. Twenty-five years ago we made promises to each other pledging to honor and cherish one another come what may. And boy did it, sickness and health, riches and poverty, good times and bad; we’ve seen it all. Thinking about everything we’ve experienced through the years made me laugh and wonder if the vows we had taken should have been a little more down to earth, something like this:

“I take thee, as my lawfully wedded spouse and promise to love you through sleepless nights, and bouts with the stomach flu. While choosing curtains and hosting holiday dinners with my extended family. I will abide in faith, remaining respectfully silent while buying a home and making DIY repairs. I will find a way to cherish your opinion even during an election year.”

Of course when I looked up nuptial vows, I did not find anything as pragmatic as the aforementioned. However, what I did find made me tear up, because I realized what I had promised to accept in marriage, I could not accept in myself.

How many of us can stand before a mirror and say,

“I take you to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know.

I take you, with all your faults and strengths; and I will offer you help when you are in need.

I will respect you and have faith in your love for me through all our years and in all that life may bring, in sickness and in health.”

I know that it is especially difficult for those of us with chronic illnesses to love ourselves, let alone accept that others can, and do love us despite our lingering issues. But, Dear Ones, if we promise to love ourselves the way we would vow to love our partner, we will be taking a step in the right direction!