My friend Alex Belth and his wife, Emily Shapiro have published an Audible Original audiobook, “Here I Are: The Anatomy of a Marriage“. I first became aware of Alex in 2018 after the publication of his article, “How our marriage survived when my partner got sick” in Men’s Health Magazine, and could immediately tell we had a common sensibility. It was clear that the similarity went further when I learned that Emily suffered from Crohn’s disease. I wrote about Alex and his situation in a post “Surviving Chronic Illnesses” that I published in Feb 2020.
Dealing With Crohn’s
As I mentioned in my 2020 post, my mom fought Crohn’s disease throughout her life. She was diagnosed in her early teens and treated by Dr. Burrill Bernard Crohn in the 1940s. She underwent an ileostomy around that time and lived with that throughout her life.
I suspect my dad had a similar experience to Alex’s first steps with Emily when he first started a relationship with my mom. He was not deterred by the challenges, and he cared for my mom assisting her with Crohn’s issues and other related mental issues until her death from sepsis in 2005. Watching him care for and protect my mom is at the root of my ability to care for and protect my wife; I couldn’t have had a better role model. As an aside, my parents were incredibly secretive about what my mom was going through and what my dad really thought about it. I can only now wonder how my life and my relationship with my parents would have been different if they had been more open about what was going on as Alex and Emily are in their book.
When my mom passed, I asked for donations to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, and I will take any opportunity to do so again. Please look at their website if for no other reason than to learn more about inflammatory bowel diseases as it is likely that you know someone who suffers from them, and then please consider making a contribution.
Back to the Book
“Here I Are: The Anatomy of a Marriage” is a breathtakingly open exploration of the innermost thoughts that Alex and Emily dealt with leading up to and including their relationship. It is more than a story of a family caregiver; it is a story about the realities of a relationship in the best and worst of times. Emily and Alex tell you what’s going on under the covers (literally) which most couples try to hide from the world.
The audio book is only 2.5 hours long and is narrated by Emily and Alex. Hearing the story in their own voices makes it all that more powerful. I would love for everyone to listen to this as I believe that it will breed empathy and compassion in the listeners, not only towards Emily and Alex but towards people in general. The old adage, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” is perfectly fitting as this memoir gets you close to walking in Alex’s and Emily’s shoes; leaving you with a newfound understanding of interpersonal dynamics.
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