In Sickness and in Health- Marriage and Chronic Illness


No one signs up for chronic pain, (at least I wouldn’t think anyone would). Nevertheless chronic pain showed up in my life nearly 14 years ago. It showed up and has impacted every area of my life including my marriage.

At the altar on the day of the wedding most couples repeat the vows “in sickness and in health”. A promise to be there for each other no matter the circumstances, but how many couples actually can live up to those standards? Illness can permeate a marriage changing the roles of the couple. From equal partners to one who is the caregiver and one who is sick. When suffering, pain, doctors appointments and medications become the focus, relationships can easily unravel. Guilt, and resentment can take over. My husband and I have been married for 19 years and here is what we have learned together along the way:

  • Accept that sometimes and in some ways you need a caregiver. There are some things that I just can not do anymore at all or without assistance. It’s our reality. Just like when he is sick with a cold or flu, I do my best to look after him. When I’m in a flare he does his best to look after me.
  • Communication and Appreciation:  We check in with other all the time. I make sure that he knows how much I appreciate all he does for me and our family. He acknowledges the ways that I contribute so that it lessens my guilt.
  • There are going to be hard times. Being a caregiver is tough. Especially when you already work full time. He gets tired (so do I), he gets moody (so do I) but these times will pass.
  • Reassurance: I often need his reassurance that I am not a burden. Sometimes, on bad days I need to hear it over and over again, and he needs to be okay with telling me over and over again.
  • Remember what you love about the your partner. What drew you together? Write a list of your partners qualities that you love and share it with them.
  • Patience. Kindness & Understanding. You may not be living the life that you envisioned, but you’re together. You’re a team and that’s what matters.