Helping Your Marriage Survive Chronic Illness

When your spouse or child is diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition, your life is changed forever. Not only does living with medical challenges present some strains on your lifestyle and your family dynamic, but the cost of care and emotional toll it can take on family members can often result in marriages failing. 

If a loved one in your family has recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness, here are some things you can do to help keep your marriage strong even though there are trials ahead:

1. Start going to couples therapy.

Many couples mistakenly believe that therapy is only for people as a last resort before filing for divorce. However, therapy can be essential for giving you a space to communicate together over the new challenges you are facing. You can also learn new communication strategies and discover more about the needs and abilities of your spouse.

Some therapists can give you "homework" for your relationship to make sure it isn't forced to the back burner for so long that the spark fizzles out. This homework might be a certain amount of quality time, making time to compliment your spouse each day, or devoting fifteen minutes to open communication so misunderstandings don't fester. 

2. Get outside help.

Many parents or spouses feel like it's their job to play nurse when a family member needs rigorous medical care on a daily basis. Providing meals, baths, medicines, and supervision can be a huge job, and while family members have their hearts in the right place to provide as much as they can, burning out is a real possibility, and sometimes resentment can grow, especially if a person feels they are always required to put their own needs on hold. This type of care is isolating, and it can divide you from your spouse if you are always the person required to give constant care. Hire at-home care or a home health professionals to help out a few time a week so that you can take a break from having to always be on call for medical needs. 

3. Take time for personal pursuits.

It's easy to put your own needs on hold for the love of a spouse or child who is living with a painful illness, but this does not mean that you can never take time to be yourself. Some marriages suffer because neither spouse has time to self-identify. Going to a book club, playing on a community sports team, or taking some classes that interest you help you to keep your sense of self-identity that feeds into your marriage. 

Contact a company like COUNSELING WITH LISA MFT for more information and assistance.