7 Ways To Deal With Chronic Illness In Marriage

by Yvonne Chase on September 10, 2013

chronicGravely Ill
I was inspired to write this post after mentioning my brother in this postAs many of you know or may not know, my brother got married as a healthy, physically fit active, employed man then suddenly got gravely ill with autoimmune disease.  We talked a lot throughout the course of his illness and below is some of what I learned about what to do and what not to do when dealing with a chronically ill spouse.

Remember your vows.  You stood at the altar and vowed to love this person in sickness and in health.  You now have the opportunity to put those words into action.  Love is a verb.  That’s why you said, “I do.”  You now have an opportunity to do love.  To show love…to make your spouse feel loved and cared for.  Breaking your vows is not an option.  If that thought enters your mind…

Ask for help.  Living out in sickness and health is easy when its a common cold.  A quick run to the neighborhood drugstore to pick up something over the counter and a stop at the grocery store to load up on orange juice and soup is easy.  Dealing with a chronic illness is very different and that is why you need help.  You cannot do this alone.  Call on family, friends, neighbors and your church family if you have one.  Also research outside sources.  For example, my brother had scleroderma.  There is a foundation, support groups and website filled with tons of information and resources.

Get counseling.  Some people sweep things under the rug hoping they will disappear or get better.  That doesn’t work.  Talk about the illness.  Talk about the affect it has on your marriage.  Talk about your fears.  Talk about your new reality.  A professional, trained counselor can help you process your feelings and put them in perspective.  My brother and his wife needed a whole lot of counseling

Incorporate “Me” time. Caring for someone can  take a toll on you.  Caretakers need care too.  Set aside an hour each day or maybe set aside a day to take care of you.  Get a mani. Get a pedi.  Meet a girlfriend for lunch.  Take a long bath.  Get a workout in.  Do something for you to recharge your batteries.

Keep a happy home.  Proverbs says “A merry heart does good like medicine but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Dealing with a chronic illness can suck the joy out of your home and suck the life out of you.  Remember to laugh.  Keep a happy atmosphere.  Play music.  Open the windows and let the sunshine in.  Have a stream of visitors on speed dial to drop in and lighten the mood.  Whatever it takes, keep joy flowing.

Step outside of yourself.  One of the things my brother did even in his frail condition was continue to speak to the sick and shut-in.  That got his mind off of him and put it on someone else.  Helping others gave him joy and those moments of joy kept him going.

Don’t give up on each other.  There will be days when one of you is stronger than the other; one of you is in a better mental space than the other.  One of you is more emotionally balanced than the other.  One of you has a better grip on your reality than the other.  Support each other in those moments.   Pick each other up.  Remember you’re on the same team.

See It As A Gift
Caring for a sick spouse is not easy.  I don’t wish what my brother went through on any couple.  In my Oprah voice, here’s what I know for sure; any sickness, no matter how difficult will bring you closer together and will make your marriage stronger if you see it as a gift.  That takes maturity and that takes looking at it through Gods eyes.  Both of you need to ask yourselves some very powerful questions:

  • What are my lessons…what can I learn from this?
  • How can I become a better spouse and person through this?
  • How can we become a stronger team?
  • What positive character traits can this situation develop in me?
  • What negative character traits can this situation remove from me?

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  James 1:2-4

Something to think about…

What say you? Have you had to care for a sick spouse? How did it affect your marriage? Any words of wisdom you’d like to add?

Here are 2 things I’d like you to do now:

1.  Leave a comment below

2.  Share this post if you like it

misssrobin September 15, 2013

Wonderful tips. I struggle with chronic illness. Sometimes I’m okay and we can function semi-normally. Other times, not so much. Your tips are right on the money. Thank you for sharing them. I hope your brother and his wife find much joy amidst the struggles. I know I’ve learned things I never would have otherwise and grown from my illnesses into a much better person. But it’s still tough.

Thanks again for sharing. Happy Sharefest.

Yvonne Chase September 15, 2013


Sorry to hear about your struggles with chronic illness. Happy to hear that you’ve learned things you never would’ve otherwise and grown into a much better person. I believe that’s the purpose of life’s struggles.

My brother is no longer with me. He took his final breath three years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him or think about him.

I learned a lot from his struggle and I share it in the hopes of helping others see light in perceived darkness.

Sending lots of love and light to you. You have the right attitude and outlook!

God Bless You!

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