Chronic Illness and Marriage

When you get married you commit to for better or worse and in sickness and in health. You don’t think those two things will happen early in your marriage if you think about them at all. Marriage is full of ups and downs, good and bad, and is very hard at times. When you add a chronic illness to the mix it can get complicated. Not every person is ready for the better or worse, or in sickness and in health.

Sacrifices are essential to living with someone with a Chronic Illness. There were years where my husband had to fill my medicine case each week, cook every meal, do all the laundry, help me shower, get me dressed, help me in and out of the car, walk me up and down the stairs, the list goes on and on. I haven’t seen the inside of a grocery store in years.

He gave up several hobbies he loved to make sure there was always time to take care of my medical and mental health needs. It comes at a cost to the partner’s mental health. I encouraged him to seek counseling which he did and it helped a great deal.

My husband has been caring for me and my health since we first married. Long before Lyme Disease, an Immune Deficiency Disorder, and Fibromyalgia, there was my Mental Illness to care for. I have Bipolar Disorder, which is a serious Mental Illness that requires constant monitoring and several medications to stay well.

From the very beginning, he had to keep an eye out for signs and symptoms. Ask gently if I had taken my medication and help me deal with my depression when the Black Dog moved in.

One of the things I asked from the very beginning was for him to sit in on my appointments with my Psychiatrist. I wanted him to understand how sick I was and hear it from the doctor, to hear me talk to the doctor. This would prove immensely helpful in the years to come.

I had to trust him with the darkest part of myself, my Bipolar Disorder and it was difficult at first but I knew it was needed if our marriage was going to work. I had to trust that he would listen and learn but not take over my healthcare unless I was a harm to myself.

One critical step my husband took is put my health before his career, it was a huge guilt trip for me. He passed up promotions and great opportunities to travel so that I would not be home alone. Just last week his boss asked all of the VP’s to lunch and he had to decline due to the rising cases of Omacrom. Ouch, that burns sometimes!

The truth is I don’t know what I would have done over the past 20 years without his sacrifices. If you have a chronic illness make sure you are transparent in the struggle and what may be required of them. If a dating relationship can’t withstand that challenge then a marriage certainly won’t.

Melinda

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