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Yolanda Hadid Opens Up About How Her Illness Affected Her Marriage

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Yolanda Hadid’s battle with Lyme disease and divorce from music producer David Foster was documented in tabloids and on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” In a new memoir, the former model is opening up about the effect her illness had on her marriage — and others with chronic illness may be able to relate to the challenges she and Foster faced.

The Daily Mail reported yesterday that in her book, “Believe Me: My Battle With the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease,” Hadid wrote that after she began experiencing symptoms and searching for a diagnosis, Foster was too busy to attend her doctor’s appointments. He also “didn’t understand” why she didn’t believe she had chronic fatigue syndrome, as she had been told.

She eventually felt that Foster longed “for his life outside our house.” He ended their marriage in 2015 after four years of marriage, three years after Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease. When he came by the house to pick up some belongings, Hadid said he told her, “Your sick card is up.”

Hadid has spoken about her marriage and divorce before — during a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” reunion episode in 2016, Hadid said, “You can’t underestimate how much it takes for a man to take care of somebody that’s sick all of the time. David didn’t change; I’m the one that changed. And I guess this is the outcome of that.” She also defended him, saying, “I don’t think anybody should criticize that.”

When host Andy Cohen asked her if she was blindsided, Hadid said yes. “I didn’t think that was the end of the road,” she admitted.

Foster has defended himself against criticism about the way he handled Hadid’s illness. In a statement he released to Us Weekly two weeks after he and Hadid announced their split, Foster said he was by Hadid’s side to the best of his ability as she battled Lyme disease.

“I am incredibly proud of Yolanda’s determination and mission to find a cure, and how brave and open she has been by sharing her story in the hopes of changing the future for others,” he said.

Many people living with chronic illness have experienced the extra challenges illness can bring to a marriage.

We asked our Mighty community with chronic illness to share how they deal with struggles that arise in their marriage. Here’s what they told us.

1. “Invisible illness can be terribly hard on the non-ill spouse. ‘Seeing is believing’ and since you can’t see it… they often have no real cues on when it’s OK to ask for something or when to back off. When not in the midst of a flare or high stress moment is the best time to try to talk. Both people need the safety to be honest about what it is like to be them and what they perceive from the other. Being gentle on yourself and your marriage is essential. It should be as OK for the non ill spouse to be sad or frustrated as it is for the ill person to be in misery. It can help to think of the illness as the ‘uninvited guest’ to your marriage.”

2. “Balance honestly. There’s a lot of guilt on the patient’s side when we’re unable to do activities or connect the way we used to. On better days I try to plan a surprise day out. I’ll pick something or somewhere we haven’t been. He always drives so I don’t tell him and just plug directions into google. I’ve done that a couple times. It’s a nice spontaneous time and you can work it around how you’re feeling a particular day.”

3. “Be open and honest with your spouse. I hold a lot in when I struggle thinking it would save him grief which makes it worse for both of us, but when I trust him and share, the burden is lighter. Often he knows when I’ve hit my limit before me, but still lets me decide when I’m done.”

4. “My husband has to pick up a lot of the extra chores I’m unable to do because of my illnesses. But I try to make an effort to assist if I can.”

5. “Communication. Communication is absolutely crucial, especially when there’s chronic illness. If I don’t tell him what’s going on, he won’t know. If he doesn’t tell me, I won’t know. If we don’t work together and communicate, our marriage will crumble.”

6. “[My] mom has depression, borderline [personality] disorder and fibromyalgia and Dad has always been supportive. If she’s too tired he asks her to stay in bed, he takes care of most of the chores at home and he tries to cheer her up when she’s sad. Always tells her how beautiful she is and how much he loves her. Of course they also fight and Dad gets tired from time to time, but somehow they manage to keep it together and love each other.”

7. “Talk about everything. Even the things you don’t want to say. Even the things you think don’t need to be talked about. Even the things that seem too hard to figure out. And understand your spouse’s point of view. You can’t possibly know what it is like living in their shoes even if you’re married, but you can try to better understand how they feel and think. If you don’t communicate and really understand each other’s view point, you’ll never be quite as comfortable as you could be, and you’ll always be able to tell in the back of your minds that things could be smoother if you were just willing to talk.”

8. “The hardest part is the ups and downs of chronic illness. The days I feel fine and can do more are followed by bradycardia or tachycardia days; the unpredictability of dysautonomia constantly throws our whole world into confusion. I try to show husband my [blood pressure] and take him to doctors appointments so he can try to understand and be my advocate. It’s tough, really tough. It’s a commitment, through sickness and health.”

Let us know your strategies for marriage while dealing with chronic illness in the comments below.

“Believe Me: My Battle With the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease” will be released on September 12.

Lead photo courtesy of Yolanda Hadid’s Instagram

Originally published: July 26, 2017
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