When Chronic Illness Invades Your Marriage

When Chronic Illness Invades Your Marriage

This coming Sunday, August 13th, Brian and I will celebrate our thirty-fourth wedding anniversary!

It honestly does not feel like it's been thirty-four years already!

Where has the time gone?

I can still picture us standing in Brian's parent's backyard with only the best man and matron of honor in our wedding party with about forty friends and family members gathered around as we said, "I do"!

Our wedding!

It was a very simple wedding ceremony without all the fancy fuss, glamoury glitz or mounds of money shelled out! But most certainly loads of love!

I guess you could say our wedding theme was, "Money can't buy me love!"

Have you ever wondered how many couples, as they say their wedding vows, REALLY stop, ponder and truly think about what they are promising as they stare deeply into one another's eyes totally oblivious to all those around them!

I know I wasn't paying attention!

I was just repeating, in an extremely nervous voice, what the preacher told me to say!

If I would have been picturing the part about "in sickness", my thoughts would have drifted to something simple like the flu, a cold, the stomach bug, a broken bone!

And I definitely would have thought of "in sickness" being played out when Brian and I were much older. Certainly not beginning when I was thirty-nine and still lingering on now at the age of fifty-four with no relief in sight.

Now that we are empty-nesters, aren't these supposed to be the carefree days? 

Time to just pick up, pack up, and head out whenever, wherever, for however long?

hawaii photo

Doing all the fun things we always dreamed about doing?

Just kicking back, enjoying life and each other?

Well, unfortunately, since chronic illness invaded our marriage, none of those things are happening for us. (Yes, please go ahead and insert a huge sigh of disappointment right about here!)

Did you realize the divorce rate in couples in which one spouse has a serious chronic illness is as high as seventy-five percent?

Chronic illness, in and of itself, is very difficult to manage, let alone trying to make it work within a marriage.

Brian and I often find ourselves in a "Catch-22". We both go through times of feeling guilty. Of course I feel the guilt for having the chronic illness, and Brian carries the guilt of not being able to fix me. Both of which are completely wrong thoughts.

Chronic illness

is a thief!

It robs us of getting out of the house to do simple things together like going into a restaurant for dinner, walking around the mall, attending the social activities at our church.

It robs us of having friends over on a regular basis for food, fun and fellowship. 

It robs us of taking much-needed vacations and getting away from it all.

It robs us of just normal every day life events.

Some might think it would be best to become bitter and just turn our backs on God since He allowed chronic illness to invade our marriage and turned our world upside down.

WHAT?

The Lord is our rock and strength through all we face!

He is our Good, Good Father!

He is our Saviour!

He is our

EVERYTHING!

Yes, I do admit I have days which are emotionally draining, and I just can't see past the illness. But just a little talk, well maybe a LONG talk, with Jesus makes it right!

Chronic illness definitely has the potential to take its toll on a marriage, even to the point of completely destroying it.

But, by God's grace, living with a chronic illness also has the ability to cause your marriage, to not just survive, but to THRIVE!

We have found that the ONLY way for our marriage to not just survive, but to thrive through chronic illness, is the fact that Brian has the Lord at the center of his life. I have the Lord at the center of my life. And the Lord is at the center of our marriage.

In fact that's the key to any successful biblically-based marriage whether chronic illness is a factor or not.

Chronic illness creates the demand for a “new normal.” There is no going back to the way things were, only going forward.

Over the years as my illness has progressed, gotten worse and changed, we have adjusted and changed our "normal".

  • Instead of going into restaurants for dates, we now go on truck dates, and we LOVE them!
  • When we cannot be in church, we watch the services by way of the live stream which we are SO VERY THANKFUL our church provides.
  • Since chronic illness invaded our marriage, we are much more prone to say, "thank you", for the help we are able to give each other, no matter how small or menial the task may seem.
  • Chronic illness can put both myself and Brian on edge at times, and mouths speak without thinking! Therefore, we are very quick to say, "I'm sorry", quick to accept forgiveness and quick to let the offensive go completely, not rehashing it again.
  • We have learned over the years of dealing with chronic illness to never take the simple things of life for granted. And especially not to take each other for granted!
  • We remind each other quite often throughout the day that we love, appreciate and are praying for one another either by way of phone calls or text messages!
  • We try to find things to laugh about since having chronic illness as a part of our marriage is not much fun.
  • We have both learned to invest time in others. This helps to focus our minds on others rather than only on ourselves and on the illness. For Brian it means taking his Mom to her doctor appointments, doing construction work at our church and helping neighbors with different projects. For me it means making greeting cards, praying for others and working on this website.

We would be telling a flat-out lie if we said we enjoy doing this thing called "chronic illness"!

Who would ever

want to be sick?

BUT the bottom line is that God makes no mistakes and He has chosen Brian and I to walk this path, which for now, includes living daily with a chronic illness.

We don't understand why, but we don't need to understand why because God is God and we are not!

Our part is to...

Trust the Lord completely.

Honor and glorify the Lord in the midst of this circumstance so that others might come to know Christ as their personal Saviour.

Rejoice knowing God is in control.

Praise the Lord for all that He can and will accomplish through this trial if we allow Him the opportunity to do so! In other words, if we get out of His way!

I will be COMPLETELY honest and tell you that some days what I just wrote above is much easier to live out than on other days!

BUT GOD

IS 

ALWAYS

FAITHFUL!

If we had to choose a theme song to describe our marriage, we would surely choose the following song!

I CAN

THROUGH CHRIST!

 


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May God Bless You,

Barb

7 Comments

  • Lynn Severance

    August 9, 2017 at 11:17 am Reply

    Happy Anniversary to you and Brian!
    Thanks for sharing about the Rock who is the center of your marriage and how that one factor is the most crucial in helping you both stay strong in spite of everything.

    The 'thief" may come and may lurk around attempting to destroy but we know he is a beaten foe.
    Thank God for reigning in each of our lives! Amen.

    Love, Lynn

    • Barb

      August 9, 2017 at 1:52 pm Reply

      Thank you so much, Lynn, for the Happy Anniversary wish!

      Yes, The Rock is the only way to make it through chronic illness, which you are fully aware of!

      And, yes, praise God the thief IS a defeated foe!

      I greatly appreciate your message.

      Loads of love ♡♡♡

  • Zebra4Jesus

    August 9, 2017 at 11:04 pm Reply

    Happy anniversary! I love love love this post! You put chronic illness into everyday words. ThOught now I'm struggling with it being a thief bit only to my husband but also my children. It's so not fair for them to live this kind of life where I just can't keep after!!! But God is faithful! So I keep striving to serve Jesus where He has me and to place myself and my family in His hands. THANKS so much for this! Your fellow Zebra

    • Barb

      August 10, 2017 at 12:08 pm Reply

      Thank you my fellow zebra for the Happy Anniversary wish ❤
      Oh my heart aches for you as I read about you dealing with chronic illness not just through marriage, but also through raising children. I have a son, but when my chronic illness hit the second time, he was already getting ready to go off to college. But I can relate some what when my granddaughter comes to visit and I can only do fun stuff with her that can be done sitting! I will be praying for you. Keep on blooming where you're planted. You're a very special blessing to me.
      Sending loads of love to my special fellow zebra and friend ❤❤

      • Zebra4Jesus

        August 13, 2017 at 7:26 am Reply

        Awwwww! THANKS so much! With God it will be possible to raise my children for Him. Even though life is such a challenge and Ireally need and keep praying for a safe nonjudgemental helper. God is faithful as He pulls us through:) Your writings are such an encouragement to me as I realize chronic illness is very real even though I don't look sick, and its definitely not in my head. Although others are beginning to realize that also. So with God's help I'll keep praying for my husband spiritual life, strength to raise my children for Him and to for Him with my whole heart:) Thanks again. I just had to re-read this again today:) Your fellow Zebra

  • Linda

    August 10, 2017 at 4:11 am Reply

    Happy Anniversary, Barb and Brian! Your lives are a wonderful testimony to the strength of a marriage where relationship with the Lord is central. Its hard to imagine how hard it must be for those that struggle through without God, especially when difficulties of one sort or another arise - as they do in any marriage. Some of the things you write - like saying sorry quickly, and not taking each other for granted - are such important things, and yet many relationships sadly never grasp them. Thank you, Barb, for another great post.
    Loads of love and hugs across the distance. ❤️

    • Barb

      August 10, 2017 at 12:15 pm Reply

      Thank you my sweet friend for the Happy Anniversary wish ❤
      I will wish you and your beloved a Happy Anniversary as well since I know it's some time in August ❤
      Brian and I were married six years before I came to know Christ and then another two more years before Brian came to know Christ. We had a good marriage. But our marriage would have never survived these past fifteen years of illness without both of us knowing and loving the Lord.
      Thank you, Linda, for being an amazing and encouraging friend to me!
      Love you bunches ❤❤❤

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