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Chronic Illness and Marriage: Thoughts From an Ill Husband

Posted Feb 13 2013 10:00am
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ill husband Chronic Illness and Marriage: Thoughts From an Ill Husband

Most of the articles you see online show what marriage is like from the perspective of an ill wife. Karlton Douglas, our devotional writer, would like to share with you what he believes has helped his marriage survive. I thought it was a nice change to have the perspective of an ill husband too. May it bless you, Lisa

“The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 1:23-24)

Marriage takes a lot of work. It requires compromise, not always getting your way, sacrifice, and putting the needs of others before yourself. A successful marriage is one built upon common beliefs, shared ethics and faith. Being truly in love, not the touchy-feely nonsense that is all emotion and no depth, but a deep, abiding affection that is of God is what is needed. For we would not truly know love if not for God teaching and showing us what true love is through Christ.

My wife and I recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. I do not claim to have all the answers to a good marriage, but I have some idea of what works and what doesn’t.

I asked God for help
I give God credit for our marriage lasting so long. I know the type of woman I would have chosen–they have all been divorced by now.

As dumb as I was at a young age, I was smart enough to ask God to help me find a wife. I have also been smart enough to ask His help and guidance throughout our marriage. You see, I came from a home that included four marriages and divorces, and the one thing I knew growing up is that I did not want a divorce–ever.

Our mutual faith in Christ
ill husband2 Chronic Illness and Marriage: Thoughts From an Ill Husband Those who are married and struggling with illnesses have added burdens and pressures put upon their marriages, and frankly, many marriages with one or both partners who are ill do not survive the added burdens. Our marriage has been stressed to the breaking point more than once by my afflictions. And it hasn’t been easy for either of us.

I know what made all the difference:

  • our common Christian faith
  • inviting God into our marriage
  • depending upon Him to keep us together
  • a true, lasting love

Those things could apply to anyone wanting a marriage that lasts a lifetime.

God is forgiving
I’m not the easiest person to get along with, and my wife, God bless her, she has her own unique personality traits. We have not made it so long because we are both stellar angels without any faults or weaknesses, but because we learned from a young age and throughout our marriage that God is good and gracious and His love and kindness is greater than our weaknesses and faults.

What if your marriage didn’t survive?
If your marriage has not survived your illness, I’m truly sorry. You are not in the minority, for even marriages without the added burden of illness often fail. Throw long term affliction into the midst of marriage and it will test your marriage beyond the breaking point.

Don’t blame yourself, don’t give in to guilt. I think if you can make it on your own you will save yourself many challenges and problems.

If you are not someone who can make it on your own you should truly seek God’s guidance and direction regarding someone to marry, that point probably cannot be stressed enough.

What if I want to marry again?
God can guide us to the correct person to live our lives with, but I fear that left to our own devices, without the ability to see into someone’s heart and mind, we will likely chose badly without God’s intervention. It is even more important to choose the right person when you struggle with a disability.

What if my spouse is abusive?
Another area that needs to be touched upon is mental and emotional abuse of those who are afflicted by their mate. It is not uncommon to see a “blame the victim” mentality in a spouse. I’m a guy with a strong will and that kind of response to me would last all of five seconds–I would not put up with it, and have never been put into that position.

But I fear that there are those suffering affliction who have the added burdens of mental and emotional abuse from their spouses, you don’t have to put up with that and you shouldn’t. Suffering a disability is hard enough without getting beaten down by others in addition to the daily burdens of living with affliction.

In conclusion. . .
I would wish for you to have a loving, supporting spouse in your time of need. If you are married, you will need the Lord the see you both through marriage with this added challenge of affliction. If you are unmarried and suffering affliction, do not be in a hurry to find someone and get married, because it will take a God-given mate to last through the long haul of your affliction, and it may take time to find that person.

A good mate is a gift from God. A long marriage is a testament to God’s goodness, mercy and grace, and our willingness to be guided by Him throughout our marriage. I pray God will guide you with this very important issue and all its complications.

Have you considered that it takes God to put a marriage together and keep it together? Have you considered asking God to help you regarding this very important issue of marriage?

Karlton Douglas lives in Ohio with his lovely wife. He is very grateful that God brought the right person into his life so many years ago.

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