Chronic Illness and Communication in Marriage:
I hope that in the next few articles
my words will be an encouragement and blessing to you
as I share from my heart
how God is growing my marriage
- – even in the midst of trials and pain in my body – -
Over the past year, I have lost the ability to do all of the grocery shopping, drive a car, and keep up with all of the household responsibilities due to my new health challenges. My life doesn’t look anything like it did even six months ago. It has been a hard transition for me to go from being capable and confident in my abilities to keep up with my life each day to someone who has to ask for help.
It’s really, really hard for me to ask for help.
(I don’t think that I am alone in feeling more comfortable offering help than being on the receiving end. Am I?)
I will be honest with you – I don’t like where God has me right now. It hurts. It’s humbling. It’s uncomfortable. I miss being able to make plans and keep them. There are days I long to know the answer to my “whys” that I ask the LORD. So far, He hasn’t given me an answer.
And, that’s OK. No matter what the challenge, I still choose to trust His Love for me and His Plans for my life. I rest on His Promises; His Grace enables my every breath each day. I can see how He is growing me. Stretching me. Allowing me to slow down enough to see the hurts and needs of others. Teaching me things I didn’t know that I needed to learn.
There is blessing to be found in the painful places.
One of the blessings of this time is that I have had to learn how to rely on and trust my husband.
I look back and realize that before this time of health challenges, I was busy working to carry my weight in my marriage and family. I felt confident that I was doing well keeping up with it all; many days, weeks, months, and years slipped by with things going on as usual. I considered myself a committed, submissive wife who communicated well with her husband.
What I didn’t realize was that I was acting like a Lone Ranger in my marriage. I made many of my daily decisions without thinking of “bothering him” for his input. In addition to that, I wasn’t looking to my husband to meet many of my unspoken needs. I didn’t want to be too needy so I “let him” be a husband to me, according to what I thought that looked like. I trusted him not to hurt me, but I didn’t give him much room to have a chance.
For over 10 years I missed out on the blessing that comes from looking to your spouse to serve and meet your needs in that spiritual cycle of mutual submission….
The key from moving from just being man and wife to having a marriage of deeper intimacy is centered on communication – and I lacked the ability to open up and really communicate with my precious husband.
I didn’t grow up with safe people in my life. When sharing from my heart, many times my feelings were hurt by others who would use that information that I had shared against me. My ex-husband never proved to be a safe person… and I learned to guard my heart from being hurt by anyone else again.
If I could take care of myself and only share my heart and deepest needs with the LORD, isn’t that enough? It was, for a while, but things came to a head when I had to face the hard reality of how my life had changed: I wasn’t going to be able to be a Lone Ranger and deny that I have “needs” in my life anymore.
- – - * When you get to the point that your physical body gives out on you, you learn what it means to ask for help. Without help, you will not be able to get up off the floor when you fall - or - get out of bed when you are too weak to do it by yourself. * – - -
Although I am in a very hard place, I am so grateful for this time. I am grateful for a husband who really does want to help me and serve me with the strength of God holding him up. I don’t take any of that for granted. I am very, overwhelmingly blessed. I daily thank God for my husband…
It’s been a hard journey to come to a place where I am able to share my heart without worrying about acting too needs or hearing a big, scary NO; by God’s Grace and help I have been able to learn how to be a better communicator with my husband. It has taken baby steps, but I am getting closer – - – and, we are growing into a deeper intimacy each day as a result of my surrender in this area also.
I don’t have all the answers – I am still on the journey – but, this is what God has encouraged me to do when it comes to communicating with my husband as he seeks to be a help and a loving support to me as we face this trial, together:
- Establish a running communication between the two of you – and seek to be an encouragement to HIM through these messages. Touch base somehow during the day when he’s gone. Send texts, emails, call during this lunch break. Get creative! :-)
- Explain that you need him to do (X). Let him know how much it will help you. When he does it, say thank you and show your genuine appreciation,
- Have him come with you to your doctor’s appointments. It really helps for him to hear things from your doctor(s) and ask them questions directly.
- Be honest – but kind. Know that he desires to hear from your heart but how you say things matters more than the words you say sometimes.
- Stay in communication with your Lord. The foundation of intimacy with your husband is a deepening, daily time of intimacy with your Lord.
May you grow closer together through the times that would seek to bring you apart,
may the LORD be your Foundation and Guide as you hold on even tighter to each other,
and may you find yourself deeper in love with each passing day.
1 Corinthians 13:8a - Love never fails.
To God be the GLORY!
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