Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Marriage and chronic illness

It's been a rough few days around here. Where to begin? I'll just jump right into the middle, how's that?

Having a chronic illness is hard for the sick person, but it is hard for other family members too. I, more than once, have read the statistic that 75% of marriages in which one of the spouses has a chronic illness will end in divorce!! Holy Cow Batman!! No, I'm not headed for a divorce, but I am not very happy about the state of things around here. Why should I share any of this here? Well, I wanted to write this blog for two reasons; one, for me to have a place to vent and share with friends and family who care, and two, to show people what it's really like living with a chronic illness. The good, bad and ugly. So, tonight I'll tell you a little bit about the ugly.

I still don't know where to begin. I go. Over the weekend, Tim and I had a "discussion" about an ongoing problem in our marriage. I think nearly every couple has at least one unresolved issue that keeps popping up from time to time. We are no different. But, when you take that unresolved issue and mix it with a well spouse who is not that happy with his job, then add in the sick partner and all of their problems, well, let's just say you really have to learn to communicate if you are going to make it.

I've always wanted my husband to be honest with me. To tell me if I'm doing something that bothers him. He isn't very likely to do this though because he doesn't want to hurt my feelings. I say I can handle whatever he has to tell me if he says it the proper way. Something was said about me not feeling well and how I spent a lot of time in bed. How he felt we couldn't go out and do very much because it would be too hard on me. Etc, etc.

So, my illness is a very sensitive subject. I hate being sick. I do not use my illness for personal gain. I don't get any special treatment from my family. In fact, I still do almost as much housework as I did before I got sick. And, most of what I'm not doing, just doesn't get done. No one is really picking up the slack. Plus, I'm working 15 to 20 hours a week. I have to push myself to do all of these things. That's one of the reasons why I'm so fatigued that I have to get horizontal as soon as I get home from work or any outing for that matter. Excuse me for being sick! Of course, he was just honest with me. But, as I said, my illness is a sore subject. We exchanged words, pouting commenced, and threats were made; mostly by me. I haven't behaved so irrationally since I started the Lexapro a year and a half ago.

My knee-jerk reaction was to tell him that I would no longer share anything about my illness with him. Na na na boo boo!!! So there!! Oh, I also said I would take myself off of disability (never mind that it took me over three years to get it!!) and work full time. In other words, I want to pretend that I'm not sick. I guess I thought this would make things a lot easier on us. But, I realized that I cannot pretend that I'm not sick. I am sick. That's my reality. We both have to find a way to live with it.

So, we finally started acting like two rational adults and discussed things. He suggested that the girls could do more housework and that we should make a chart up for them. He also said he could do more. He hinted that he wanted me to spend more time with him in the living room when he's home rather than being in our room. I understand that. I'm going to make a little corner of the couch for me. Maybe I can have a basket that I can carry back and forth from our room to the living room. It could hold my meds, cell phone, my kindle, bills, etc.

I know if we can keep on talking we can make it through anything.

PS I had my follow-up doctor visit yesterday and I will fill everyone in on that in the next day or two.


  1. Sorry to hear you were having such a difficult time. Chronic illness is a huge adjustment for everyone in the family. It puts a strain on even the strongest relationships. Communication is important. Maybe you and Tim need some adult time away from home for a few days.

    Having the girls do a few extra chores around the house is an excellent idea.

    This is a big adjustment for everybody, it may take some time, be patient, have a family meeting if you need to.

    That's about all I can offer, stay strong..

  2. Thanks Rachel! I think you're right; we need time away. Right now, it's just not possible though. His work schedule just wont allow it. But, I think we can find other ways to get some time together. I'm glad our kids are nearly grown. It would have been very difficult to be in the shape I'm in and have little ones to raise.