The Story of Their Marriage

Maintaining a happy marriage has become a life-time topic for couples since the wedding day. The marriage vow also mentions that whether it is in good times or adversity, wealth or poverty, health or sickness, both spouses must promise to support and respect each other. However, the accumulated life pressure would have made marriage maintenance challenging for many couples. Therefore, what does marriage means to people who have recovered from mental illness?

Only Mutual Support Keeps Them Connected Under heavy stress at work and from life, Wah was diagnosed schizophrenia and sent in hospital. The side effect of medication after hospitalisation caused difficulty for him to concentrate at work and he could no longer work as an air-conditioner maintenance worker. Lacking of living expenses and opportunity to re-adapt to the outside world, Wah chose to move into one of the Halfway Houses of New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (New Life) through referral of a social worker at the hospital. That was only a very short while after he was married with May.

Wah had picked up his living and social skills during his stay at the Halfway Houses. The stable living routine had also helped Wah overcome the side effect of medication. Not long after Wah had accommodated to the new life, he found a job with reasonable salary, which can barely enough to support him and May. However, even Wah had adapted to such regulated life, his marriage with May that was mostly in separation had become another problem.

Since for the first half year lodgers were not encouraged to stay overnight outside of Halfway House, Wah was only able to meet with May during daytime in weekends. Neither of them were used to such unusual form of married life at the beginning. Fortunately, as an independent lady, May had given Wah sufficient consolation and support mentally and physically. Her exceptional ability to properly look after the family had helped Wah a lot so that he might focus more on his job. Although with only Wah’s income their living standard could only remain at the very basic state, May was never ambitious in finance and left little pressure on Wah. May stated that they never got into fight in terms of money, because she was convinced that a long lasting couple should support each other for better or worse.

People in Recovery is just Ordinary As a matter of fact, May had no idea of Wah's sickness before marriage, and discovered no difference on him with others besides his low in spirit sometimes. But Wah confessed to May about his situation because of his honesty to their relationship. May admitted that she did mind a little for the similar reason as many people when she first heard, out of fear and misunderstanding. However, for the many years she had been acquainted with Wah before marriage, they knew each other very well. May reckoned that she can hardly find any difference between Wah and other people except for the label of People in recovery.

Therefore, May decided to dismantle her psychological barricade and thoroughly accept Wah as how he was, disregarding all biases from around. Deep in her mind, the sickness was only a part of experience in Wah’s journey. It could not hinder Wah to become a good husband and organize a happy family with her. She also clearly realised what it would take to accomplish this marriage, but she never regretted.

Now, the couple ‘meets’ every night through video calls. And Wah stays home every Saturday night to have dinner well prepared by May. On Sunday morning, they would enjoy Cantonese dim sum in Chinese restaurant together before Wah returning to Halfway House. Life is simple but satisfactory. May accompanies Wah for regular medical consultation, and Wah goes home with May to see her families every year. May also participates in the activities organized by the Halfway House in order to have deeper understanding and greater support to her husband.

Establishing his own family, Wah lives with goal and motivation and regards May as his spiritual pillar. He realized that May made him know the importance of family and personal responsibility. With the constant support and encouragement, Wah has become more emotionally stable and positive. To improve the quality of life, Wah works so hard that he is being appreciated at work and pay rise which gives him unprecedented sense of accomplishment. The biggest wish of the couple now is to be arranged for public housing and save the rent for more leisure enjoyment. May also hopes to travel with Wah to see more of the word in the future.

With sickness or not, every marriage faces different challenges in life. With mutual sustainment and appropriate community support, the marriage life of the people in recovery in mental illness can be as wonderful as that of the ordinary people. Avoid self-labelling is more important than removing it by the society. Thus, let us conquer fear and clear barricades with unconditional love and support as husband and wife.