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What I've Learned About Love From Being Married With a Chronic Illness

Being married for 20 years, I’ve learned a few things. Marriage is not like what’s in soap operas or the movies where there’s always a happy ending. There’s more to a marital commitment than the physical aspects. It’s giving 110 percent without keeping track of who’s done the most. It’s all about compromising and apologizing when you’re done disagreeing. It’s also about putting the other’s needs first over your own because you’d do anything for your spouse to make their life a little easier, especially when they have a chronic illness.

My husband knew going into our relationship that I had Crohn’s and an ileostomy. It didn’t scare him off and he stated that it was the inside of a person that counted, not just looks alone. When I wasn’t feeling well or had medical tests done, he’d come over with flowers to check up on me or made sure I was following my special diet when I was in a flare by making me meals. For my birthday, he made me a cake from scratch including the frosting with fresh strawberries. I could tell that he really cared about me as a person and saw past my health issues.

a couple exchanging vows on their wedding day

Once we were married, we were getting used to each other’s quirks and daily habits. The one thing that was constant in our relationship was his support and love even when he’d get frustrated over the fact that he couldn’t do anything to prevent my Crohn’s flare-ups and surgeries over the years or when I had my stroke. He oversaw the household chores, took me to rehab, made sure his parents could cover for him to take me to my medical appointments if he had to work, plus he helped with my recovery by encouraging me to work on my cognitive deficits so I could gain the confidence I lost. He also had to put up with my emotional outbursts whenever I felt down because I was saddened that I had no job and the fact that I was strongly advised by my hematologist to avoid starting a family due to my history of blood clots caused by the MTHFR A1298C mutation. It broke my heart but I knew the seriousness of the issue and when I had to break the news to my husband, he was very understanding.

Philip has shown me time and again that when confronted with life’s challenges in our marriage, we can weather any storm by facing it together with faith, strength, humor, determination and love.

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Originally published: February 16, 2018
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