When you got married, and the pastor or priest asked you to recite your vows, did you ever think that you’d genuinely have to share the pain and sorrows of your life partner?
The thought does not often come to mind of many couples, especially when both are super fit. They rarely get sick aside from the usual muscle ache or seasonal flu. But when your better half has or develops a chronic illness, that’s when the rocky road starts.
There may be days when your spouse needs help in moving out of the bed. In some days, you may not be able to touch him or her as it hurts everywhere. In the worst situations, your significant other may also get short-tempered since their movements often have limitations.
Avoidance regarding talking about illness was a familiar, yet still surprising aspect of my experience. — Tamara McClintock Greenberg Psy.D.
Regardless of those struggles, however, your marriage can still work for decades. You merely have to:
Right after opening your eyes in the morning, the first words you utter should go along the lines of, “How are we feeling today?” or “Are you OK?” If your ill partner gives you a positive reply, that means the chronic disease isn’t active, and you will most likely have a normal day. In case you get a “no,” though, then you can expect twists and turns before nighttime comes.
Checking in with your spouse is very significant as that’s the only way you’ll know their present condition. It isn’t alright to never ask, trying to believe it’s all part of a dream since that will be unfair to your husband or wife. Besides, it may result in fights, which folks with chronic illnesses don’t need at any given time.
When you are both in a fantastic mood, make time for creating your game plan for the rest of your life. That should involve what your better half can do at home if they’re not sick, what you have to do to pick up the slack, how you can figure out when the lingering pain turns itself on, etc.
When one member of a romantic partnership becomes chronically ill, the dance of shared living that the couple has built together is stopped. — Katie Willard Virant MSW, JD, LCSW
The thing is, managing a chronic illness is like going to the war zone. If you step on that battlefield without a sound strategy, one of you will lose your patience, and the marriage will crumble.
Your bond with your significant other will remain strong as well once they know that you support them 100%. You can show that by accompanying them to doctor’s appointments, cooking meals that suit their diet, and improving your lifestyle in a way that your spouse can benefit from it too.
Of course, you are welcome to feel frustrated with the situation at times. You are only human, and it’s not healthy to bottle up your negative emotions for fear of upsetting your lifetime partner. But the latter won’t get hurt as much as you assume when you communicate and continue helping out in every aspect possible.
Having a chronic illness is extremely painful to deal with. Though the aches are mostly physical, every lousy day can depress you and make you believe in yourself less. Despite that, you and your spouse only need to hang on to each other for your marriage to endure even a recurrent disease.
If you experience a chronic illness/condition, with time and practice, you can make the adjustments necessary to establish a “new normal.” — Dan Mager MSW