Protecting Your Marriage When You Have A Chronic Illness

Protecting your Marriage from Chronic Illness

I haven’t been married long by most standards, but in the last four years, my husband and I have lived a lot of life. During the first two years, I was battling intense chronic pain. Since a doctor helped me discover gluten was to blame, our house has undergone a lot of lifestyle/diet changes while I’ve been dealing with the damage I have done to my body. This is a lot to handle in any marriage, but particularly in a young one. There is a lot I have learned, so I hope you can learn from my mistakes. Some of you reading this post have children, and I know that can make matters even more complicated. We don’t have kids, so I cannot speak to their added complications to life. However, I believe this lessons are still applicable.

1. My husband is not the enemy.

On days when I don’t feel well, when I haven’t had enough sleep, or I’m just generally frustrated with my lot in life, I often try to find an outlet for my frustration. My husband is an easy target. On these days, the way he breathes can be enough to set me off. This is the absolute worst way to react to my pain. I have had to learn to step back, recognize what I’m feeling, and stop it in its tracks. When I admit to myself what is really causing my frustration, I can better control my emotional response to myself and my husband.

2. His Suggestions Come From Love

One of my favorite things about CA and I is that we are entirely different. We have different tastes in music, movies, and food. We even have vastly different love languages. So why would I be surprised that we communicate differently? Sometimes what he says feels like an insult or a slight, but his inherent love for me colors everything he says and does. For example, “You should work out today,” feels like a comment on my body. What he really means? “I want you to get stronger so you can handle this pain.” Or, “You need to find another doctor.” In the moment, this felt like he wasn’t believing what the doctor said about the reality of my condition. What he meant? “This doctor doesn’t understand you. You need to find someone who does.” No spouse is perfect, and mine doesn’t always communicate in love. But 99% of the time, he is wanting me to feel better, get stronger, and reach my potential.

3. His job is difficult!

I have something important to admit – I am difficult to live with. Outside of my illness, my diet, and my desire to share my feelings on the internet, I’m also super talkative, enjoy way too much Netflix binge watching, and tend to doubt myself. CA has the difficult task of encouraging me when I am incapable of believing in myself and reigning me in when I’m pushing myself too hard. This is not something specific to marriages complicated by illness, but it does become more complicated. Noticing when he is trying to help me become the best version of myself and appreciating those moments has helped us grow together more than just about everything else in our marriage.

4. Grace is the only thing that will get us through.

I cannot express this enough – this is something important to all marriages. None of us is married to a perfect person. There are times when my husband frustrates or disappoints me, and those days are hard. But I also know there are days when I frustrate and disappoint him. This is going to happen again and again. And while we constantly try to improve, we will always fall short. We have been extended grace through salvation, and to truly show love to one another, we have to extend this grace again and again. Sometimes the only thing getting me through the days I am struggling or feel inadequate is this grace.

Marriage brings us together for better or worse, in sickness and in health. On our wedding day, we only picture the best, the healthiest, the most beautiful days. But it’s the way we love each other through sickness and struggle that grows our marriages and pulls us both towards Christ. While we still have numerous challenges ahead of us, facing illness, separation, and the struggle of life has shown me that we are capable of anything together.

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