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3 Words That Strengthen My Marriage While I Battle Illnesses

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Marriage is hard and marriage with chronic illness is even more difficult. The life I once had that was filled with love letters, gifts, fun date nights, goals, dreams and a carefree outlook all changed with chronic illness.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss how my life was before chronic illness, missing how I was. How my only worries were if we had enough money to go on vacation or to make my new car payment. I miss working 12-hour shifts, coming home to cook dinner, clean, and then being able to say “I’m exhausted.” These days my exhaustion is unrelenting and with very little exertion. Because of the combination of chronic Lyme disease, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and psoriatic arthritis I have been very ill and very limited in my functionality.

Don’t get me wrong. If chronic illness never affected me then I wouldn’t truly know and appreciate love the way I do now. Love is having your spouse feed you when you are too dizzy to hold your head up, love is your husband that comes home after a 40 hour work week to help do things around the house that you physically cannot do, love is your husband helping you bathe because you are too weak to bathe yourself. Love is going to a family function or social gathering while looking healthy on the outside and he is the only person knowing you’re true pain and your true strength. Love is having someone willing to fight, nurture, and love you even on the days you can’t fight, take care of or even love yourself.

When my chronic and invisible illnesses bring me to my knees, he reminds me how strong I am. When I feel guilty for no longer being able to work or contribute like I use to, he tells me it’s not my fault and that it will get better. But most importantly, when I told him a doctor, family or friend said, “But you don’t look sick,” or “Maybe you’re exaggerating,” he then tells me, “I believe you.” Three very powerful words for a chronically and invisibly ill person to hear.

These words can be life-changing. Validation, compassion and love is what these three words mean. It means I am fighting for a reason. It means that he may not fully understand the physical pain or guilt I experience but he sure does try to and he tries his best to help. It means I am no longer alone. It reminds me how lucky I really am. I truly believe that all things have a purpose… even when it seems the odds are stacked against you.

I don’t know how I will ever repay my husband for all of the amazing things he has done for me. He may even be fighting this chronic illness ordeal harder than I am. We have both had our ups and downs, ways of grieving and coping. We have had our fair share of misunderstandings and arguments. But now, after a six-year battle and me still being ill, our marriage is stronger than ever. I know one day I will be better and we will have this health crisis behind us. We were brought to hell and back while fighting for my health and our marriage. Years from now and when I get my health back, I will still never forget those three clear yet soft-spoken words from my husband: “I believe you.”

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Thinkstock photo by DragonImages

Originally published: February 14, 2017
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