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 JAN - FEB 2004
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COVER: Renee Bondi
How Long do I Have
to Live with This, Lord?
Talking to Your Spouse About Your llness: How Much is Too Much?
Medical Records: Aren't They Mine?
Increasing the Odds:
Disability Resources
to Get You Organized
What I'd Like to Tell My Pastor About Chronic Illness
10 Ways to Save $ in 2004
Talk Over Tea with the Editor
Tell Us Your Thoughts
Strive to Thrive Health News
Joy Bites
Strength in the Shadows
Volunteer Corner
Book Review: Examining Alternative Medicine
Ask the Doc
hopenotes: hopekeepers
Group & Leader Information




" t feels like I'm laying on thumb tacks," I tell my husband as he crawls into bed beside me. "But there is nothing there! I feel so bruised."

"I'm sorry," he offers with a sympathetic voice, but there is little else he can do.

"I feel kind of nauseous too," I say. "I wonder if I should get something to eat. . . But then that might upset my stomach. It's must be the drugs. I'm sure it will pass."

As I finish my sentence he's snoring away.

For many of us, our spouse is our best friend. If our relationship is good, we want to share our feelings with them. Even if our relationship is hurting, we feel that by explaining our pain, they may sympathize and be more loving towards us. Although we don't want to burden them by constantly sharing about our aches and pains, when we are hurting there is a desire to be heard and have our feelings validated. By talking out loud about what we are feeling, it somehow makes the pain real- it's no longer "all in our head."

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ," says Galatians 6:2. But at some point we need to carry these burdens to the Lord, and even a close friend, rather than just our spouse. Despite our spouse's lack of physical pain, he or she is grieving many losses too: the loss of watching us lose our abilities, the loss of all of the "couple outings without limits" we were to share over the years, and even the loss of being able to make it all better with a hug. Counselors agree that the top three marriage problems are money, time and physical intimacy. Chronic illness adds a weighty burden to each of these. How can we learn how to "share our burdens" within our marriage, yet also know when to not dish out our burdens one after the other onto our spouse?

Be a team with your spouse. It's you and your spouse "up against" the illness. You may feel like your spouse is merely a spectator, but make him or her a part of your team fighting the battle of pain. Gently educate your spouse on your illness. Allow his or her presence at doctor's visits and provide answers to his or her questions about your illness. Acknowledge that your roles may be changing. Connie Kennemer who lives with multiple sclerosis shares, "I am not as mobile as I used to be and often ask more of my husband. 'Can you work at home this afternoon? Why do you have to go to another meeting?' etc. How much should he accommodate me because my body is changing? He doesn't always know when to stop and encourage me to try things myself. This is a constant challenge."

Have reasonable expectations. We often marry someone who has our opposite personality style. If you need to read every article about your illness, but your spouse doesn't, it may simply be because your spouse has a more laissez faire attitude, not because he doesn't care. Or perhaps you take things as they come and put off digging up information. Your spouse may accuse you of being in denial and not caring about your health because you don't research the illness with the same passion he does. An excellent book to smooth out your communication is Personality Plus for Couples: Understanding Yourself and the One You Love by Florence Littauer.

Have information available. If your spouse is a book-worm he may want to read books on your condition; perhaps the most effective way to share something is to place sticky notes. . .

This article was featured in our January February 2004 issue. Subscribe today so you don't miss our next issue. You can also order back issues while supplies last at our bookstore, The Comfort Zone. We also gladly accept orders by mail, FAX or phone. REST MINISTRIES, PO Box 502928, San Diego, CA 92150, FAX 800-933-1078 or phone 888-751-7378.



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