The Bible says, “The two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31) So when illness intrudes upon a marriage by grabbing hold of one of the partners, it can become powerfully invasive.
It can steal away from you so many of the dreams you have planned out together and reduce them into living one day at a time instead, trying to cope with each trial the illness brings with it.
It can also test the metal of each spouse’s value system and character in what they are willing to do, to help their ailing partner.
When Illness Intrudes Upon Marriage
“Marriage is two people traveling together, each one more concerned with the other’s well-being than with his or her own.” (J.L. Hardesty)
The Bible says in Philippians 2:4, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” It also says, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:24)
But when the strained dailiness of living with a very ill partner hits your home, it can be the last thing that comes to mind. There is a continual call for “dying to self” and dying to dreams and “normalcy.” Yet, that is what the vow you gave “to have and to hold in sickness and in health” demands, when illness intrudes upon your marriage. I know this personally to be true with some serious illnesses we have had to battle in our marriage.
I really agree with the following advice Helena Madsen gives on this issue in dealing with illness:
“Change your vocabulary. Facing and dealing with chronic illness has never been limited to just the chronic partner. Chronic illness always affects both parties in a marriage. Use the words ‘we’ and ‘our’ when talking about the illness. Notice your level of connectedness and how your emotional intimacy grows.”
And that’s true. My husband and I have witnessed this in our own marriage while battling the effects of Type 1 Diabetes. There are other illnesses that won’t go away and have invaded our marriage, as well.
Something else Helena advices is the same thing we tell couples continually. This is true whether you’re dealing with an illness or not:
“Remind yourself that divorce is not an option. When you close the door to certain options such as divorce, your mind won’t ‘go there’ when stress or difficulties arise. Close the door to divorce and keep it shut.” (To read more advice, please click onto the Growthrac.com article, When Chronic Illness Enters Your Marriage)
It is our prayer that there is “such a oneness between you in your marriage that when one of you weeps, the other will taste the salt.”
It is also our prayer that when illness attacks your home, you will pull together. Don’t allow it to rip you apart as a marital team. We pray that when each of you is tested through the invasion of sickness, you will grab onto the strength that God can give you. That way you are better able to do what needs to be done for your marriage partner.
“Sometimes ‘sickness’ can be the most ‘healthy’ place to be if God is present. That is because He can change us there.” (Myrna Pugh)
When someone in the family gets seriously ill, he/she might be the one infected, but the entire family is affected. This applies whether it’s disease or chronic pain that has changed your relationship with a loved one.
Related to this issue, here is some good advice that Dr Phil gives:
“Don’t let the disease become your identity. You can manage an illness, or it can manage you. Are you becoming a full-time patient instead of a human being with a disease to manage? Investigate every avenue of rehabilitation and create the highest quality of life. Don’t let the limitations of a disease become as handy as the pocket on your shirt. Do 100 percent of what you can do.”
That’s advice that is difficult to do, especially when the illness or disease is debilitating and/or is consuming so much of your time as you try to manage it the best way you can. But it’s important. Don’t allow this illness to erase who you are and all that God can still do through you. And don’t give this illness more power than you should.
To learn more advice that Dr Phil has to give, please click on the web site link below. (This is not a Christian web site, but it has very good, common sense principles in this document.) Please read:
And then, from the ministry of Family Life Today it’s important to know:
“All marriages have their struggles, but when a spouse becomes seriously ill, it can take a toll on the marriage. Charlie Wedemeyer, who battles with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and his wife Lucy, talk about their love for one another and the faith that keeps them strong.”
To either listen to a couple of radio programs giving their testimony, or read the transcripts, please click onto:
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: Mental and Physical Health