Monday, June 15, 2009
"IN SICKNESS & IN HEALTH"...OR JUST IN SICKNESS?
I read a statistic recently that stated the divorce rate is 75% where a chronic illness is present in either the husband or wife. This statistic originates from the National Health Interview Survey and is found all over the internet and beyond. Frankly, those results scare the hell out of me! Clearly, when "in sickness and in health" turns into just sickness, the stress on the marriage is enormous.
Of course, when we marry, we are bleary eyed and naive and never think about things like that. We will always be blissfully in love and nothing will ever change that...then in roars chronic illness. At that point, the chronic nature of the illness rewrites the script of your relationship. Roles change and plans for the future fall by the wayside. Every aspect of your marriage is effected: work and finances, chores, social life and sex are all different. Nothing looks the way it started out and the stress upon the marriage becomes overwhelming.
I met my husband while on vacation in Jamaica, several months after the suicide of my 1st husband. The last thing I was looking for was a relationship. But...I fell hard and fast, I was so madly in love and knew immediately that I had just met the man of my dreams, the person that I would spend many happy years with. There were several wonderful years, and then everything changed. Don't get me wrong, my husband still loves me dearly, as I do him, however, the stress on our marriage can no longer be hidden. We never fought, not ever, and people would jokingly state that our marriage made them "sick" as we were always lovingly gazing at each other and never would a cruel word leave our lips.
My husband states that he understands, and always bends over backward to try and help me with absolutely everything. The problem is however, his entire focus is me and doing all that he can for me, all the time. This approach has simply just worn him ragged, he is beyond exhausted in every way and I feel guilty...very guilty. I tell him very often that he should leave and find someone else to spend his life with, someone healthy. My intent is not a cruel one, simply that I love him and want him to live a normal life, one without all this extra stress and heartache. He gets very angry when I say that. I simply just feel that he did not "sign on for this" and being stuck with a sick wife is just not fair.
My husband has been coping fairly well, up until recently that is. Now, his stress level has peaked to the point where we are at risk for ending up as part of that 75% divorce rate statistic. He has tried to do it all, taking up the slack for me and he simply can not do it anymore. There needs to be better coping strategies put in place so that he can continue to cope and I can find a way to not feel so guilty for the extra stress put upon him. I have searched long and hard for methods to cope and have found a couple of things so far. This article and this one.
Above and beyond that--I think perhaps couples counselling may be helpful too. I have a hard time accepting and coping myself, but for my husband, he needs just as much, if not more support than I do. Here's to all the loving caregivers out there that do their very best to be supportive spouses to their ill partners!