Chronic Illness


Here are the 3 most common mistakes made by couples impacted by chronic illness.

You suppress genuine feelings or avoid sharing especially negative emotions like anger or guilt.
Intimacy is put on the back shelf
You spend too much time worrying about the future or wishing to go back to the past and spend little time in the present where your life is now

Whether you or your partner is diagnosed with a chronic illness you’re both likely to feel confused, angry or frustrated that there isn’t a clear answer. You don’t know what’s going to happen or how it will impact your family. Life changes for everyone. You aren’t just dealing with physical challenges but emotional ones as well and it can put a strain on your relationship.


Most individuals who have a chronic illness struggle with these questions. What about you.

  • How can I keep our family together when I’m so exhausted?
  • How can my partner and I grow closer not further apart?
  • How do I communicate what I feel when I’m not even sure myself?
  • How can I be happy when my future looks so bleak?
  • How will we manage our finances if I lose my job, work part time or stop working altogether?
  • How will we cover medical expenses like doctor visits, tests and treatments without denying our children their academic and leisure activities?
  • How will I be productive and achieve my personal goals?

It isn’t easy being the partner of someone living with a chronic illness either. If your spouse has a chronic illness have you had thoughts like these?

  • It’s all we talk about.
  • I feel so helpless.
  • I feel guilt all the time.
  • It has created a wedge in our marriage
  • Our family activities like holidays, traveling, sports events… aren’t as much fun.
  • There is resentment and anger at home.
  • It has changed my whole life. I’m not sure I can handle this.

Being aware that your partner is going through difficult changes that are different from yours opens you to discuss and support each other under any circumstances, because they will have a better understanding of what’s going on. Good for you, good for your relationship.

What causes more confusion are the 5 myths about chronic illness from both partners’ point of view. Take a look:

5 Myths About Chronic Illness from the Point of View of:

It’s all downhill from here It s all downhill from here
I’m a burden, I’m ruining every one else’s lives I’m helpless
I can’t be productive; I have no value It’s up to me to take care of everything now
I’m not attractive any more I can’t have the life I want and I can’t talk about it
No one understands me My suffering doesn’t matter, my problems don’t compare to hers/his

These are myths! They aren’t real. They are ideas and thoughts that show up when we feel scared and lack proper support.

The good news is that you can have a healthy relationship with more love, intimacy and joy

It depends on you doing two things:

      Explore your needs and communicate them to your partner.

Learn what your partners’ needs are, and do your best to help fulfill them

CLARIFY: Learn to see what the problems are. Pay attention to what’s going on now instead of what should or shouldn’t be happening.
MOTIVATION: Increase social relationships to get and give support. Learn to like even love yourself.
EDUCATION: Learn new tools to manage the full range of your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical intelligence.
COMMUNICATION: Be clear and honest. Speak up, be heard, listen more effectively.
ENGAGEMENT: Have weekly date night, weekly family get-togethers to play games, share experiences, explore feelings…