It's a sad reality that these conditions have destroyed marriages, especially when the healthy person doesn't believe the illness is real. However, is there a flip side to that coin - can illness improve your marriage?
A new survey says a downturn in health is generally hard on marriages, but actual disability can, sometimes, lead to an improvement. Here's a breakdown:
Declines in Health:
- Onset of decline in health was detrimental to marriage, especially when the husband was the one with poor health.
- The younger the couple, the harder it was for them to deal with declines in health.
- The healthy spouses reported greater declines in marital quality than the unhealthy ones.
Onset of Disability
- Onset of disability improved marriage when the wife was disabled, but not when the husband was.
So, essentially, declines in health and the onset of disability are detrimental to marriage except when the wife becomes disabled. What I have to wonder is what's causing the gender difference - do women have more problems handling their husband's disability, or are disabled men harder to live with? Or is it because men still earn more than women, especially among older people, so a man's disability creates a bigger financial strain?
Personally, I know my illness has been hard on my marriage, and it was extremely stressful for us when I left my full-time job because we didn't know if I'd be able to earn a living working from home. We've faced other issues as well, but we've come through it with our relationship intact, and possibly even stronger. I credit good communication, more time together, and his patience and understanding. (Truly, the man is a saint!)
What has your illness, or your spouse's illness, done to your marriage? What have your struggles been? If you've overcome them, how? Share your experiences here (click on "Comment" below) or in About.com's Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome community forum (under Newsletter & Blog Topics.)
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