When the words “ . . . in sickness and in health . . .” flow past your ears during your wedding ceremony is usually not the best time to start considering vetting the health of the woman you've chosen to commit to. Indeed, most men don’t consider that fact at all (being blinded by love and frequent poon tang) when they are considering a good wife, and many times this neglect comes back to bite them in the ass like a rabid hooker.
“Good Health” is a misnomer. Everyone has issues, and they only get worse as we age. Women have a whole host of physical issues that most men cannot even imagine. It is man’s lot to live, age, and die, and getting sick happens an awful lot. It happens to just about everyone, eventually.
But when I speak of “good health”, I’m speaking here of three things in particular than any prospective bride should be vetted upon. The first is Health History. The second is Health Lifestyle. The third is Health Habits.
Family Health History
No one can choose their ancestors, but the sad fact is our genetics portend a profound amount of information about our health, and knowing what your potential wife’s ancestral health history looks like can be instructional. Is there a history of recent cancers or other diseases in her family line? Do her relatives tend to drop dead of heart attacks in their 50s?
If you are considering children, knowing about her family’s reproductive health is likewise an important point. A close history of miscarriages, infertility, or other issues should be discovered, if it exists, and disorders such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and various dysmorphic disorders should also be discussed.
None of these should necessarily be exclusionary issues; Mrs. Ironwood had far from a clean bill of health when I met her. Indeed, she had been clinically dead once, had suffered from alcohol poisoning (ah, youth!), electrocuted, and has horrible allergies to this day. But once I understood the nature of her various hereditary illnesses and ailments, I was able to balance these against her other exceptional qualities and make an informed decision.
Of course, along with this family health history, her personal health history should be evaluated. Childhood illnesses? Allergies? Asthma? Bleeding disorders? Everything is on the table. Of course you have a duty to disclose your own health history in turn, as honestly as you expect her to.
And of course this is where the subject of her sexual history becomes legitimate fair game. If she's being coy about her Number with you before now, this is an excellent place to ask for an honest answer . . . and watch for any equivocation. Some women, of course, will say that their number is personal, and nobody's business but theirs. They are correct. If they are not willing to share that information with you, you should be equally willing to withhold any tangible signs of commitment from you on the same principal. Either she's willing to be considered to be your wife, in which case her actual Number should be known, or she's not a serious candidate and just wants the attention . . . or is ashamed of her behavior. Either case will be instructive.
Women without exceptional qualities that still bring this kind of health baggage? Hit next.
Your girlfriend or perspective bride may balk at sharing such intimate family matters . . . but considering that you are evaluating whether or not to make her a part of your family negates this argument. If she isn't willing to be as open, honest, and forthcoming about her family’s medical history, you might just want to wait before setting a date. Such reluctance usually indicates that there is something to hide.
Of course in addition to a full health workup, you should consider evaluating your woman’s approach to her healthy lifestyle. Many young women parrot ideas about healthy living, and follow faddish ideas of diet and exercise, while finding plenty of rationalizations about why they are the exception to the usual rules of physiology. Girls on "good date" behavior don't want you to know about their allergy to the gym or their dependence on potato chips - but what does she do when you aren't watching? Poor diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits are hard to hide under scrutiny, however; her bad habits will reveal themselves soon enough.
In particular, evaluate how regularly she exercises and whether she sees it as a chore, a release, a duty, or a responsibility . . . or an excuse to get trendy workout clothes. Does she manage her diet effectively, or is she a carboholic? Fast food or fresh food? Do you see her “splurging” more often than eating sensibly? Does she pay attention to her nutrition, as well as her diet? Is she an athelete? Active? Willing to go for a walk or a bike ride? Or do "long walks on the beach" mean a quarter-mile hike down to the boardwalk bar . . . and taking a pedicab back?
Family culture plays a large role in this. If her family is active, she will likely stay active . . . and either she is from an active family that supported and celebrated a good healthy lifestyle, or she has room for improvement. Poor lifestyle choices don't necessarily exclude a woman from being a good wife, but they don't work for her, either.
And finally, a prospective bride’s apparent health is just as important as her actual health. Women who complain about “feeling ill” or “being sick” or “having headaches” frequently or periodically may or may not have actual illnesses, but the pattern of "sickly" behavior is far more instructive about her character than the actual ailment. One of my ex-girlfriend’s had a chronic case of illnesses associated with Monday mornings, for instance, and another seemed to develop migraines every time it was time to go do something fun I liked but she didn't. Mrs. Ironwood, on the other hand, braved a 101 degree fever and nausea to accompany me to a function she knew I thought was worthwhile.
Illness has been seen as the refuge of the feminine sex to avoid social awkwardness or to manipulate social and personal situations for thousands of years. The best check of this factor is to see how many sick days she takes, how quickly she recovers, and how often she uses her health as an excuse. All too many women know the common masculine weakness for feminine vulnerability, and will play on that and sympathy to gain attention from men through their illness.
One unfortunate relative of mine responds to this apparent demonstration of sickness and weakness as alluring vulnerability, and as such has locked himself into miserable relationships with sickly women for years. While I’m sure he finds some sense of fulfillment in being their perpetual crutch (and eventual whipping boy), a thorough and comprehensive screening for good health would have prevented decades of misery in their service.
Unfortunately, “sick” women get attention for their illness, both from friends and family and from the medical profession, and when they cannot find any other way to draw it they will use their apparent vulnerability to emotionally control the men in their lives. Women who cavalierly use their health as a weapon in a relationship are just as damnable to a man as women who use sex as a weapon. More so: sexual deprivation usually only affects a husband, while feigned or exaggerated illness can affect entire families.
A good health history, a healthy lifestyle, and a reasonable approach to their own health is highly recommended in any woman you may consider making a commitment to. Any serious red flags in that area should at least be evaluated, and while only time will tell if she is as committed to healthy living as she says she is, it’s hard to fake being healthy for any decent length of time.
And if a woman is deceitful about her health or her health history . . . that should be instructive, too. Remember fellas, marriage licenses don’t come with warranties.