Crossing the threshold in my husband’s arms on our wedding day might’ve been the first of many thresholds in our marriage, but the others haven’t always been as fun or whimsical—like when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness.
When I was only 30 I began to manifest the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, even though I simply thought I was suffering from carpel tunnel, TMJ, sore ankles and an occasional swollen knee. 😉
I could reason away the swollen knee because of an old knee injury from my teens, but the rest seemed oddly and frustratingly coincidental.
As for how this disease impacted me, I was a young mom in those days, which meant I was already exhausted and overworked. Add swollen and painful joints to the mix and you have the makings of one whopper of a “marriage mess.” At least, that’s the way it worked (or didn’t work) for us.
I remember that back in the day, I felt sort of invincible in my life, and now this disease was stealing that youthful illusion from me. It all made me very angry.
In fact, I denied for quite some time that I even had the disease because my RA factor was seronegative—meaning it wasn’t showing significantly in my blood—even though my RA doctor wasn’t fooled by this camouflage agent.
Of course, this disease had its ups and downs. Sometimes it was quiet and I would feel back to normal again—feeding into my sense of denial. But then there were other times when it would come roaring back into my life like I’d just awoken a sleeping and very ticked monster.
Whenever I was flaring, I really needed my hubby to pitch in and help more with the kids and the house. Unfortunately, I’ve always been really bad about asking for help. It felt like I was defective and surrendering to the power of this disease that I most certainly did.not.have!
So then I would get angry with my hubby for not guessing that I needed his help. But I think I was actually angry with the fact that I had to ask for his help in the first place.
And naturally, I wasn’t the only one who struggled with denial when it came to my disease. There were times when it was hard for my husband and kids to accept that the wife and mother they’d always known as strong, available and fairly easy-going, wasn’t quite all those things anymore—far from it!
In fact, during those early years, I often felt depressed every time I flared. So then my husband not only had a wife struggling with a chronic illness, but who was also emotionally distant and discouraged to boot.
Add in the financial costs of medical care, as well as fewer opportunities (or desire) to connect intimately and it all felt very overwhelming and alienating to a young couple.
Honestly, I’d like to say that the only thing that got us through that time was our deep love for each other, but that would hardly be true. It was our faith in God—drawing upon His love for us—that kept us moving closer to Him and to each other.
As I look back on those hard early days, I must say that the very things that served to pull us apart were what God used to draw us back together into a tighter bond than ever before.
Would I wish the challenges of a chronic illness on another young couple so that they could “grow closer” together?
But if that’s where you find yourself, then lean into the Lord—with or without your mate—and you’ll experience the mysterious blessings that come with a deeper dependence upon God.
What chronic illness has plagued your marriage and life?
How have you learned to cope and find hope in the discouragement?
Congratulations to Nicki Schroeder who was randomly selected by Rafflecopter in the Blogiversary giveaway of a $50 Amazon card! And thanks to all of you who participated and were willing to share about Messy Marriage on Facebook! Your support in that way is greatly appreciated! 🙂
I’m still collecting any questions you may have on marriage that I, or my hubby and I, can answer in video form. So please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much!
Linking up with these fine blogs – Making Your Home Sing, Moments of Hope, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Word of God Speak, Spiritual Sundays, Mama Shares Monday, Sitting Among Friends, Faith ‘n Friends, Grace and Truth, Family, Friendship and Faith, Fresh Market Friday and DanceWithJesusFriday