How Chronic Illness Can Come Between
A Husband And Wife
I have been married 26 years. I have been I'll for 20 of them. At first, it seems that the marriage vows will guide the process and spouses pick up the slack, become caring and hug a lot. “You go rest… You need your rest…” Words that are needed, said, and believed flow unchecked. Because together we can get through anything!
But then resentment starts creeping in. “go rest” becomes “didn't you rest enough yesterday?” or “I've had to do the dishes all week! Aren't you better yet?” Our spouses can see we are not better, but don't know how to deal with it. They cannot fathom a never ending illness after vowing ‘in sickness or in health’.
I am 20 years in now. Way past the honeymoon period and definitely beyond the “We can get through anything” phase. You see, we CAN get through everything, especially together. But what we CAN’T get through is every single day after day of illness, pain, and side effects. And no one said we had to. But yet, we assume we should.
When we take the marriage vows ‘in sickness and in health” or “for better or worse”, people don't truly believe they will get the sickness or the worse. And if they do, they don't think about the long term issues because we are taught that we can get through anything-right?
But to ‘get through’ something hints at an ending. Like the 6 weeks we went through eating hot dogs and mac-n-cheese to save up for a mistake that cost us 1400$ at tax time. We got through it. And now none of us eats hot dogs or mac-n-cheese anymore.
Getting through, however, is NOT something that is possible with a chronic illness. There is no end. It's ALWAYS there. Hiding on good days, wreaking havoc on bad ones. But never going away. This would equal eating hot dogs and mac-n-cheese forever. No hamburgs, no chicken bbq. Just hotdogs and mac-n-cheese. Til death do us part. Ummmm. No. Not gonna do it.
But here's the trick: you don't have to. Being chronically ill means there will be stress and bad days and lots of curveball issues to get through. And those we do. But being chronically ill also means we must rest. In order to do that, we must accept our illness for what it is. Never ending. And with that acceptance, we can learn to be content in our illness on days we just can't fight. The days we won't get through. So don’t.
Don't worry about getting through the pain or lack of energy to do one final load of dishes or fold the last load of clothes. Today, just be. Go back to getting through tomorrow when you are fresh and hopefully in a better place in your disease. Pick up the fight and the getting through anything in sickness and health tomorrow. It will all still be there.
And for those of you who think that it's akin to quitting - it's not. It's like having a nice bit of steak and salad 4 weeks into your mac-n-cheese diet so you can keep going until you save that money. It's having a bite of chocolate when on a strict diet during competition season as a pick me up. Resting within your disease and just being for a day is the necessary treat or kindness you give your body so it can continue to fight and ‘get through’ when it needs too.
Because if you don't do little kindnesses for yourself, you will burn out. Mentally, physically, and disease wise. And your family will too. They need time to be with your disease. To be mad. To be sad. To just be and accept what your life is like. To be able to set aside all of this weight in order to see all the beauty that is also a part of your life. Because we all said for better and in health and we deserve to appreciate those days when they come. That is how we continue on and ‘get through’ our lives.