Remember that part of your wedding vows when you promised to love and honor one another in sickness and in health? If you’re dealing with a chronic illness in your marriage, where one or the other spouse is very sick, it’s not as simple as remembering that you made a promise to love and honor your partner.
Of course, you love each other and don’t want your partner to suffer, but dealing with a chronic illness in a marriage can strain more than just your commitment to one another.
Today, Spiritual Care Support Ministries is here to tell you about some ways to help deal with chronic illness in a marriage. Not every method will work for every couple, but hopefully you can use this blog post as a jumping off point, and each day work to make your marriage stronger than it was before illness entered the picture.
Open the Lines of Communication
If your spouse has just been diagnosed with a chronic illness that he or she will need to deal with for many months to come—or even the rest of their life—they are probably having a hard time coping with the overwhelming emotions they are experiencing.
You, on the other hand, are probably having a hard time understanding what your partner is going through. The first thing you need to do when your spouse becomes ill is to open the lines of communication. Assure your spouse that you can get through this together, and that you’ll need each other’s help to do so.
The Spruce says it’s important to talk about your fears, hopes, and expectations; both of the coming weeks and months, and of each other. Ask your spouse to tell you what they will expect and need from you, in terms of support and comfort. Tell him or her how you are feeling, and don’t keep your emotions inside. It may be hard for you both to process this, but you need to figure out a way to do it together.
Embrace Your Emotions
Throughout the course of a marriage, no matter what happens, both spouses will experience a range of emotions from time to time, depending on the situation. When one spouse is diagnosed with a chronic illness, you will both undoubtedly feel fear, denial, guilt, isolation, frustration, depression, anxiety, nervousness, and more.
It’s important to work through these emotions as they arise. Pushing away fear or depression can cause you to spiral down the line. Deal with how you’re feeling as it comes, and ask for help when you need it. If your spouse isn’t able to help you in the moment, reach out to friends, family members, counselors, friends at church, or someone else in your network.
Asking for help is a sign of strength, and you shouldn’t run away from it. Focus On The Family says it’s easy to drown in your emotions in this situation, so it’s important to handle your feelings head-on.
Remember that you and your spouse are partners in life—no matter what you do or what you’re going through, you do it together. But when one person is sick and one person is healthy, it can be hard to continue along with this mindset. It can be hard to not think of the sick spouse as the one needing all the help and attention, and the healthy spouse as the caretaker or nurse figure.
Avoid this, and become partners in fighting your illness. Go to your spouse’s doctors’ appointments, and ask questions about things you can do around the house to help, like committing to a new diet or exercise regimen. Expecting your sick spouse to be the only one who is thinking about the disease is a mistake; just like expecting the healthy spouse to simply play the role of caretaker for the rest of your lives is a mistake.
Remember You’re Human
Psychology Today says that you shouldn’t feel bad for wishing you could shirk your caretaker duties and take the weekend away from your spouse—you’re only human, and it’s only natural for you to feel a little bit bitter about your new way of life. Give yourself a chance to mourn the loss of how things used to be—or the promise of what they could be, and spend some time just getting used to your new situation. Don’t make yourself feel guilty for being upset or bitter; even though you are not the one who chronic illness is happening to, you’re still a part of the equation.
Talk to a Professional
Don’t go on this journey alone, just you and your spouse. Talk to a counselor to help you deal with the situation, and to advise you on how to handle certain things, and help you work out arguments or disagreements that may arise along the way. You’ll need to learn new coping mechanisms for the new issues that you’re bound to have in your daily life—so it’s important to talk to a counselor about the diagnosis and your life afterwards.
Here at Spiritual Care Support Ministries, we are committed to helping you through your personal losses, including chronic illness. Through counseling, prayer, and determination, we can help you make the transition into your new, post-diagnosis lives, and find your way back to yourselves in your marriage.
If you or your loved one is suffering from chronic illness, call us today at 540-349-5814.