Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Let's talk about marriage and chronic illness

I promise that I won't continue on this rant. However, it can't be just my situation and I'm hoping that someone may read this one day and realize it's not just them, or if it's a spouse of someone suffering from a chronic illness that perhaps they can see the another side.

I realize and accept that chronic illness can be very difficult on a marriage. The statistics show that 75% of our marriages end in divorce. Think about that a minute, only 1/4 of marriages where one partner suffers from a chronic illness will make it through.

I'm not sure that I'm going to be in that category.

We are selfish beings by nature, and while we may not like to accept this it's true. In marriage, people get accustomed to their "roles" and the expectations they have on their spouses. Plus unfortunately chronic illness has a tendancy to normally hit on that turning point in our lives. Where our children have grown older, where we are more comfortable in our bodies, when our marriages grow back to being about the partners. Then all of a sudden, one of those partners is sick. ALOT. Unable to perform in the "role" they have always been in, unable to contribute to the running of the house, often unable (at some point) to contribute financially. The "well" partner, may feel neglected, angry, and confused. Perhaps even a bit guilty for being the one that is not sick.

Men especially want to fix things. If they are the well person in the relationship, their "suggestions" may seem like criticizing to the unwell partner.

Last night, was a bad night at my house. I received no sympathy regarding my work "crisis" this week, nor no compassion for how scared I was regarding this or the anxiety it was already causing me. Instead, I received a very matter-of-fact response that perhaps I should go to bed earlier. Heads rolled (so to speak), words were said, tears were cried (on my part). I finally said everything I have wanted to say, and it has been done. I am now completely withdrawn from the situation / relationship and the ball is in his court. I simply do not have the energy to fight or argue over the things I can and can not do, over how I spend time with my mother every week (even though it's only a couple of hours), over any of it.

So perhaps this is what really happens. The sick spouse withdraws and the well spouse moves on. Not sure, how this will turn out in my case, only time will tell.

Remember, we all have choices and sometimes we have to make "unpopular" choices in order to survive especially when faced with chronic illness. To withdraw may not be the "best" choice, but for now it's the choice I have made.


  1. Well said! Your husband doesn't sound like the sort of man who would go to therapy? But maybe he really needs to talk to someone who can help him understand and help him to work out what his new position in all of this. Maybe talking with another husband of a sufferer or even a man who has cfs. To me it sounds like he is sinking as has no comprehension of what is happening so he has no idea how to respond to the situation. Either that of he really is just an ass! (but probably not, right?)

  2. I think you're right...you do sometimes have to withdraw. It's survival, like a wounded animal that hides in a hedge or thicket.

    Think Lee Lee may be right too ... your husband does need to talk to someone else with CFS and probably another man...he just doesn't know what to do with the situation. Is that a possibility ? In the end he'll have to find his own way through all this just as you're having to --- tough but true ;o(

  3. Thanks Lee Lee and Cusp -

    For myself I have found that last night was easier for me emotionally, that distance is helping me for the moment.

    I do agree that it would be wonderful for my husband to speak with someone - especially a man with CFS, however he is not active on the internet and I'm not quite sure how that could happen.

    Thanks to both of you.

  4. I'd be happy to chat with him on msn or skype or whatever .... no need to tell him I'm gay that would most likely defeat the purpose ...

    Anyway the offer is there if you or he would like ....

  5. In fact even a phone call would be fine with me ... international calling is really cheap these days!

  6. Lee Lee -

    Thanks, I'll figure out how to approach the subject. Just so you know you being gay wouldn't bother him, he's not quite that backwoods. (smile) - there is hope in the US also - LOL.