3 Tips For Loving Your Chronically Ill Spouse Well
For most spouses, the thought of handling kiddie transportation, Thanksgiving dinner, and birthday parties solo would never cross their mind. But in the world of the spouse who cares for a chronically ill better half, such is the typical reality of day-to-day life. In fact, reconciling these dual and dueling worlds can prove incredibly challenging. Below are three tips that you can use to better care for a chronically ill spouse:
- Ensure the nurse with the best bedside manner is assigned. Go back mentally to the very moment you were the most sick you have ever been in your life. Remember how powerless you felt? Remember how tortuous life felt? Now you know, to some degree, how your spouse feels. I don’t know exactly how it must feel to be chronically ill, but I do know how it feels to have your life be at the mercy of a debilitating illness if only for one day. There was no “pushing through” work, caring for children or even walking to the fridge. My body was being held hostage and I wasn’t even looking to escape, only survive. Whenever the symptoms of chronic illness frequently overwhelm your spouse, take yourself again and again to that moment of your greatest need. For, in channeling that moment, you will be able to apply the proper perspective of care to your spouse as well as tap into your reservoir of compassion, understanding and grace.
- Apply liberal amounts of grace to the wound. Throw out the “typical” relationship rulebook—you know the one where minor hurts, disappointments, and annoyances are discussed, resolved and mutually covered by grace going forward. Chronic illness may frequently take away your spouse’s physical, mental and emotional capacity to be polite, be fair, meet legitimate needs, even care about what matters to you. For major relational issues, yes await the most opportune time for your spouse and gently proceed. But for minor issues, re-read tip #1 and skip directly to the grace application part. It might take everything within you to hold back your thoughts in that moment, but any other path tends to inflict further pain and suffering on your spouse, which would be the least loving thing to do.
- Take precautions to prevent the spread of resentment within your heart. Remember, chronic illness has hijacked your spouse. They are being forced against their will to experience pain, fatigue, and many other not-fun symptoms. What they say under duress are not their own words but those of their captor. So hate the illness but love your spouse. In those moments, put flashes of your anger and frustration directly in the grace pile to be erased for good. Personal offense will do nothing to aid in the care of a chronically ill spouse. Rather, it will begin to infect from the inside and soon spread until effective, loving care is no longer available to give.
Chronic illness is a unique physical, mental, and emotional experience that those who are unaffected will likely never fully understand. However, for spouses, the journey is a joint one. The challenging nature of chronic illness reaches both in different ways. But, through that same prism of a joint journey, the loving application of grace and understanding can make its mark on both spouses as well.
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Feature photo courtesy of Pixabay user andreas160578