How to handle the new normal in a marriage with a long-term illness?
It can be difficult to know how to handle the new normal in a marriage with a long-term illness because both partners are affected by the condition differently. This article is based on my own personal experience, as a man married to a woman, therefore I write from the perspective of a husband.
I write for other men, however, if you are a woman, you will still benefit from reading this piece. I try to make it helpful for both of you.
As the one affected by the illness, your wife may feel like a burden to you, furthermore, she may feel guilty and think that she is causing you to suffer. On the other hand, as a healthy partner, you may feel like you are constantly juggling your own needs with the needs of your sick spouse.
But this is just a short note to let you know that whatever you are feeling is okay. You are not alone in this, and there is no right or wrong way to feel.
- How to handle the new normal in a marriage with a long-term illness?
- The challenges in a marriage with a long-term illness.
How to handle the new normal in a marriage with a long-term illness?
Don’t try to handle everything alone, take time out for yourselves, communicate, be patient with each other, and prepare for setbacks and financial strain. Seek out social or professional support. Remember that physical touch is important so make time for intimacy. Don’t forget to say “I love you”.
Any marriage with a long-term illness is going to have challenges, but if you face them together, with love and understanding, then you can come out the other side stronger than ever.
Having an incurable illness you never faced before brings more questions than answers. It can be difficult to know how to handle the new normal for both of you. This is why it’s important for me to point out the things you and your partner are most likely going to face.
The challenges in a marriage with a long-term illness.
There is a great number of challenges you have to overcome when you or your spouse has a long-term illness. The challenges may be physical, emotional, social, and mental.
Your wife needs to find ways to cope with the symptoms, the treatments, and the constant fear of the future. Let’s discuss it from her perspective…
The physical challenges in a marriage with a long-term illness.
The physical challenges are going to be the most difficult ones to face. The symptoms of the illness can take a toll on your body and mind. The treatments can be just as difficult, if not more so. You may have to miss work, give up hobbies, and spend a lot of time in doctors’ offices and hospitals.
The emotional challenges in a marriage with a long-term illness.
The emotional challenges are also very difficult to overcome. The sick spouse may feel guilty, ashamed, and like a burden to the healthy spouse. The healthy spouse may feel overwhelmed, worried, and helpless. It is important to talk about these feelings with each other and with a therapist or counselor if possible.
The social challenges in a marriage with a long-term illness.
The social challenges can be just as difficult as the physical and emotional ones. You may have to give up activities you enjoy, you may not be able to go out as much, and people may not understand what you are going through. It is important to find a support group or other couples in similar situations.
The mental challenges in a marriage with a long-term illness.
The mental challenges can be the most difficult of all. The constant fear of the future, the worry about money, and the stress of dealing with everything can take a toll on your mental health. It is important to talk to a therapist or counselor about these things. You may also want to consider medication to help with anxiety or depression.
Additionally, it has been proven that 75% of marriages with chronic conditions end in divorce. The endometriosis divorce rate and the fibromyalgia divorce rate are both high as much as 75 percent. This means that every three in four marriages end in divorce.
Oftentimes, the reason is a lack of understanding of one another’s needs and feelings. Below, I tell you in a nutshell, how to handle the new normal as the caregiver, and the one who is chronically ill.
If you want more in-depth information about how to support your partner with her chronic conditions and how to cope with the new normal in your relationship, I wrote a “Supporting a Chronically Ill Partner” e-Book.
You can get the 1st Chapter of the e-Book for FREE, and if you like it, you’ll get a Whopping 33% Discount on the Whole Book, plus discounts on other helpful tools. You have nothing to lose but a lot to gain!
The first chapter alone contains a lot of information for both of you about acknowledging the struggles, including:
- A word to your partner.
- A word to you.
- Stepping on eggshells.
- Understanding her needs.
- How to acknowledge having a chronically ill partner?
- Acknowledging can be hard.
- 15 tips on how to do it!
Get the 1st Chapter FREE!
Chronic Illness for Partners
How to handle the new normal as the caregiver?
Caring for a chronically ill spouse brings people closer together. It has plenty of benefits, however, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t mention the possible challenges you can experience being married to a woman who has a chronic condition.
My wife suffers from two chronic conditions. The first is a chronic illness called endometriosis, it is stage IV and it’s deeply infiltrating. The second one is a disorder called fibromyalgia.
Both conditions brought my wife a lot of general anxiety, panic disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and depression. M became so overwhelmed to the point she sometimes self-harmed, had suicidal thoughts, and tried to commit to it on two occasions.
I had to be there for her, be strong, comforting, and reassuring. I hid my own emotions thinking she had enough on her plate, and the last thing my wife needed was to deal with my emotions.
I often caught myself thinking of her at work, and sometimes I couldn’t focus on my job, especially when she felt suicidal.
I always took time off to be close, take care of my wife, and help her go through the dark periods of her life. But it impacted my job and cost us a loss of my income every time I took time off. I had no choice, I always chose her well-being before anything else.
But still, I kept it all in…
The thing is, we both needed to express our emotions. It was hard, but I had to learn how to be emotionally available for her and myself. But I hid what I felt because I was the one who needed to be strong.
It’s not that I didn’t want her to know how I felt, it was more like I was afraid of burdening her with my emotions. I was afraid that if she knew how I felt, she would think she was the cause of my pain, and that was the last thing I wanted her to think.
The truth is, she needed to know how I felt. She needed to know that I was grieving too. Grieving the loss of the person we used to be is something we both had to do. We had to mourn the loss of our old lives and find a way to create a new one.
How to handle the new normal as the sufferer?
What my wife felt was more than emotions. Sure, she goes through general anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and even developed OCD, but she also suffers daily physical symptoms such as:
- Severe pelvic pain
- Heavy bleeding
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Digestive issues
Even today, occasionally my wife feels like a burden to me. And even though I never say it out loud, she sometimes hears it in the way I talk to her, or see me look at her. I can look grumpy, she senses that.
It makes her feel guilty, and she often apologizes for being sick. And even though I tell her she doesn’t need to apologize, the truth is, sometimes I do feel upset, grumpy, angry, frustrated, and even resentful when I feel blamed for the things I haven’t done or wasn’t aware of.
It’s not that I don’t want to be there for her, it’s just that sometimes I feel like I can’t do it anymore, and I need a break. I feel like I’m running out of strength, and I get tired.
I know she feels the same way too.
The thing is, we both need to express our emotions. It’s hard, but we have to learn how to be emotionally available to each other. We need to mourn the loss of our old lives and find a way to create a new one.
It won’t be easy, but it’s possible. And even though it’s hard, we have to try. We owe it to ourselves and to each other.
What to do to handle the new normal?
My wife has good days and bad days.
On her good days, she feels like she can take on the world, but on her bad days, she can barely get out of bed. During the bad days, I had to be patient, understanding, and compassionate. I had to accept that she couldn’t do anything and that she needed rest.
I also had to learn how to be her advocate. I had to educate myself on her conditions and learn as much as I could about endometriosis and fibromyalgia.
I also had to learn how to communicate with her doctors, especially in terms of endometriosis.
I had to be the one asking the tough questions and advocating for her when she couldn’t do it herself, both, at her hospital and doctors’ appointments but also with her boss at work.
The thing is, my wife needed me to be her support system. She needed me to be there for her when she was feeling down, and she needed me to be her advocate when she was dealing with her doctors.
But I also needed to take care of myself.
A marriage with a long-term illness is tough, but it’s possible to get through it together. It might be difficult to express emotions, but it’s important to do so. It’s also essential to mourn the loss of the old life and create a new one. With effort, marriage can survive a long-term illness.
Below, I want to share with you 26 of my tips on how to handle the new normal in a marriage with a long-term illness.
26 tips on how to handle the new normal in a marriage with a long-term illness.
- Don’t try to handle everything on your own – seeking help from friends, family, and professionals can lighten the load.
- Take some time out for yourselves – make sure you schedule some quality time together, even if it’s just watching a movie or going for a walk.
- Communicate openly with each other – talking about how you both feel will help you to understand each other better and work through any difficulties.
- Be patient with each other – remember that dealing with a long-term illness can be tough for both of you, so cut each other some slack.
- Seek professional help – if you’re struggling to cope, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist or counselor who can support you both.
- Finances can be a strain – look into benefits and assistance programs that can help with the costs of treatment and care.
- Make sure you take care of yourselves – it’s important to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep, even when things are tough.
- Don’t forget about your relationship – long-term illness can put a strain on even the strongest relationships, so make sure you work on maintaining intimacy and connection.
- Seek out social support – talking to others who are in similar situations can be helpful, whether it’s online or in person.
- Be prepared for setbacks – unfortunately, there will likely be good days and bad days, so try to roll with the punches as best you can.
- Take breaks when you need them – both of you will need some time to yourselves occasionally, so make sure you respect each other’s space.
- Keep your sense of humor – laughter can be a great way to relieve stress, so don’t be afraid to crack a few jokes (even at each other’s expense!).
- Get creative with date nights – since traditional date nights may not be possible, get creative and find other ways to have fun together (like at-home movie nights or picnics in the park).
- Physical touch is important – even if close intimacy isn’t possible, simple things like holding hands or cuddling can be reassuring and comforting.
- Don’t forget to say “I love you” – a little bit of love can go a long way, so make sure you express your feelings for each other often.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – there’s no shame in admitting that you need assistance, whether it’s from friends, family, or professionals.
- Advocate for yourselves – if you’re not getting the support you need, speak up and make your needs known.
- Lean on each other – when one of you is feeling down, the other can provide strength and support.
- Seek out fun activities – even though life may feel like a series of challenges at times, try to find ways to enjoy yourselves and have some fun.
- It’s okay to cry – tears are a natural way to release emotion, so don’t be afraid to let them flow when you need to.
- Be there for each other – whether it’s just listening or offering words of wisdom, being present for each other is crucial.
- Appreciate the small things – in the midst of all the challenges, take a moment to appreciate the good moments, no matter how small they may be.
- Make time for intimacy – even if your sex life has changed, find other ways to be physically close to each other and express your love.
- Talk about your fears – it can be helpful to share your worries and concerns with each other, so you can support each other through tough times.
- Remember that you’re in this together – no matter how difficult things may get, know that you’re facing the challenges as a team.
- Be understanding and empathetic – remember that everyone copes with stress differently, so try to be understanding of each other’s needs.
Conclusion on handling it.
A marriage can be a wonderful thing, but it’s not always easy. If you’re dealing with a long-term illness, it’s important to find ways to cope with the new normal.
This can be a difficult time for both of you, but by seeking professional help, maintaining your relationship, and getting creative, you can make it through anything. Just remember that you’re in this together and that you can lean on each other for support.
If you find yourselves stuck, remind one another of these tips and try to implement them into your daily routine. With a little effort, you can get through anything life throws your way.
Appreciate the little things, learn how to laugh at yourselves, and never forget to say “I love you.” These things will help you maintain a strong marriage, even in the midst of a long-term illness.
Wishing you both the best of luck!
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Chronic Illness for Partners
Hi, I’m Lucjan! The reason why I decided to create this blog was my beautiful wife, who experienced a lot of pain in life, but also the lack of information about endometriosis and fibromyalgia for men…