Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Key to Battling Chronic Health Conditions In Marriage

By Leon Brocard (originally posted to Flickr as IXS_2631) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. For the whole Law can be summed up in this one command: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if instead of showing love among yourselves you are always critical and catty, watch out! Beware of ruining each other.

I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to. For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do; and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures. When you are guided by the Holy Spirit, you need no longer force yourself to obey Jewish laws.
Galatians 5:13-18 (TLB)

There is no greater opportunity to serve someone else in love than in marriage. When you have two people doing life together, occasions can arise that demand each person to walk in the Spirit and not be controlled by their own wants and desires.

After my husband and I married, we clearly had our own ideas and ways of doing things. One of our first spats was on the proper way to cook and flip pancakes. Another argument was over the most efficient way to clean the kitchen floor. I don’t think either one of us knew how opinionated we were until we were under the same roof all the time. We learned (eventually) that having a different opinion isn’t “wrong” but being critical of each other’s opinions were.

Three years into our marriage, we became parents and everything changed. We found we were having disagreements more easily. I can’t recall the reason for the arguments now, but I do remember the strong emotions. We weren’t on the brink of marital disaster, but the fighting was beyond our norm.

At one point during a heated exchange, I stopped and asked, “What is this with us? Is this stress?”

It was. Of course, it was! But, we had never dealt with that pressure in our marriage before.
When we brought home a baby with Down Syndrome, AV canal heart defect, pulmonary hypertension, and congestive heart failure, we also brought home emotions we never expected. I cannot describe the stress that was in that situation in the beginning. Taking care of a newborn as a first-time mother can cause some out of character emotions and fears for anyone. Add into that the concern that my newborn’s heart failure would worsen before the scheduled open-heart surgery. It was just too much too quickly.

I had never known the magnitude that stress can have before my daughter’s health conditions. Neither had my husband. Without warning, we were thrown into this health crisis as new parents.

Fast forward..... Now, we have had almost 11 years dealing with our daughter's chronic health issues. We have supported each other and our daughter as she has had surgeries, hospital stays, recurrent pneumonia, and a variety of specialty appointments.

There is no denying that chronic health issues can create stress in a marriage. Health issues have led to unpredictability in our lives and have caused changes in our daily routines, finances, and job situations. My husband and I had to learn one thing quickly as we dealt with chronic health issues. Life with chronic illness requires us to give more grace and love to each other.

We recognize that we may spat about things that aren’t important because of stress. We realize that we need to extend grace to each other when one of us is struggling. We know that showing each other love in times that are hard is more important than finding the control we struggle to have in a chaotic situation.

Chronic health issues do not have to bring disaster to a marriage. Instead, they can give opportunity for us to express our love more intentionally and give grace more freely.

Pray: God,I thank you that marriage is a wonderful part of your plan for us. I ask that you help us to show love to our spouse even when the stressors of chronic illness are present. Help us to build our spouses up even when life brings hardship. Help us to recognize stressors that affect our relationship and give us Godly ideas on how to lessen their impact on our lives and marriage. Amen.

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