If you’re here, then I am so sorry. There is nothing worse than strain on a marriage, especially when one party cannot control the strain but feels guilty because of it.
A cold or a long flu is tough, but my personal experience is with Fibromyalgia. This, of course, can apply to any serious or chronic illness.
I came across a list in Good Housekeeping March 2014 and it blew me away. Usually, I find the stories interesting, but I’ve never found one that has hit so close to home.
This article speaks about sudden disabilities involving the loss of limbs, the loss of a job and even going through a separation. All of these things under the main title of Could Your Marriage Survive This?
There were a few bullets that I would like to share with you.
How to survive a serious illness:
1. Have Friday pizza nights – “Rituals help life feel more normal,” says Susan McDaniel Ph.D., director of the Institute for the Family [who experienced disability suddenly during their marriage] at the University of Rochester Medical Center. This is one of the best ways that I’ve found to reconnect with Gabriel after a busy week or even just to touch base. It’s easy to get swept up in doctors appointments and pain management programs, so having a set date with him is the best way to go.
2. Don’t be a mind reader – “Men and women tend to respond to stress differently, so don’t assume you know what your mate is feeling,” says Pamela Fawcett Pressman, a licensed professional counsellor in Voorhees, N.J. Ask what’s on his mind.” This is the BIGGEST lifesaver in my relationship ever. I’d always assumed that when I would say fine that my mate would know that I’m the farthest thing from it. If you don’t know what he’s thinking, then it’s not fair to assume the opposite.
3. Voice your gratitude – Spouses who don’t feel appreciated are much more likely to feel dissatisfied in a marriage. Good thing it’s so easy to simply say, “Honey, thanks for all you do.” I feel so dependant on Gabriel and I’m not used to that. I always feel like he’s doing me favours and one day he’ll ask for a return payment. While this isn’t true, I always make sure to let him know just how much I appreciate all that he does for me – if it’s by getting him a coke from the fridge or singing him a song from my bed.
4. Make sure caring goes both ways – “Every marriage involves give and take, even when someone is sick. If that ratio gets too far out of balance, it can cause some real problems,” says McDaniel.
I don’t know if I fully agree with the wording of this one. It almost seems as if it’s saying that despite you being sick, you should push forward anyways to stop your partner from feeling like they’re being used. This goes back to the communication point and instead of imagining what these boundaries are, you should talk about them so that no expectations are unheard and no one feels used.
5. Face tough times side by side – “That means going to each other’s doctors appointments, even if you have to take time off work,” says Iris Waichler, author of Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster. While I understand the viewpoint of infertility and the importance of your partner being there with you, from the chronic illness standpoint, you really don’t need this unless you need help going to see your doctor. Doctors visits are like seeing a friend every other week whom you’re convinced is a vampire because of how much blood you’ve had taken. Staying side by side is important but also encourage alone time for your mate – living the life of someone else’s chronic illness is exhausting. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone and if Gabriel can take a break from it, then he’s more eager to help me when I need it and he gets to live his life as well.
I cannot stress how important communication is. I felt overwhelmed by the laundry piling up and instead of letting the feeling wash over me, I let him know. Just a simple, “Honey, I’m feeling really overwhelmed.” That’s it.
He vowed to help more so that I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed because he knows what that stress does to my pain.
Simple fix and all because I’m not a mind reader.