Trials In Marriage – Chronic Illness


Chronic Pain Or Illness.

When sickness hits your home it requires your complete attention until the crisis passes. But when the sickness goes on and on it can take a toll on your marriage. There are so many unknowns you have to deal with, e.g. Will my spouse recover? Does our child have a terminal condition? Not to mention the daily regimen of doctor appointments, administering medicine and scheduling for tests. It can be overwhelming to make it through one day. And when those days turn into weeks, which turn into months, your marriage can suffer.

We have experienced our share of health crisis in our marriage. One I’ll never forget is when Tom experienced debilitating back pain. He tried everything from cortisone shots to physical therapy. Nothing brought relief. It got so bad that he needed my help to get out of bed. When it was at it’s worse, he couldn’t sit at all! I had to drive him to work so he could lay down in the back seat. While at work he had to stand at his desk or kneel on his chair leaning over his desk. He even interviewed a new employee in this position. We laugh about it now, but at the time it was devastating.

Pain, chronic pain, makes you feel older than you are.

It makes you forget what it was like to feel good. It tempts you to believe you’ll never recover. And the spouse who must provide care during this season can grow weary, even unsympathetic.

It pains me to admit that there were many days when I didn’t want to hear Tom groan one more time. I just wanted life to be normal again. And then I felt guilty for having such an attitude, when Tom was the one suffering. I knew he didn’t ask for this. He didn’t want to be in pain, yet I was impatient, moody and (although I would have never admitted this at the time) angry.

I saw other couples enjoying date nights, planning family gatherings, and celebrating birthdays and it only elevated my discontent. Why did I having to go through this? Why couldn’t we be normal? When would this end?

Of course, Tom didn’t hear me complain.

I did what I knew was the right thing to do. I served him, I cared for him, I loved him, I listened to him and I prayed for him. Yet my heart was struggling. It’s in these moments when you realize how much you need God’s grace and mercy to endure suffering. And He always provides exactly what we need.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV

God used Tom’s sickness to deal with an area of my heart that needed attention. It’s easy to serve God and love your spouse when things are going well. But when sickness comes knocking on the door of your wedded bliss, it’s easy to want to run the other way. It reveals what’s hiding in your heart.

Some questions to ask when facing similar circumstances:

  • Do I truly love my spouse, or do I love the way they make my life better?
  • Do I count it a privilege to serve them in sickness, or do I wish they would just get over it?
  • Do I regard their needs as much as I regard my own?
  • Am I loving my spouse as Christ has loved me and laid down His life for me?
  • Or have I bought into the idea of loving only when it’s feels good.

Face it. Love isn’t a bed of roses. There are hard times, difficult times and many trials we must endure. But for those who push through they discover a rich treasure of intimacy they didn’t have before the trouble.


If you, your spouse or a one of your children are in a season of chronic illness, we pray that you will discover the help and hope you need.

Suggested Resources:

Trusting God When Life Hurts, by Jerry Bridges

When God Weeps, by Joni Eareckson Tada


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About Debi Walter

Tom and Debi have been sharing encouragements through their blogs for many years. Marriage, Reading God's Word and documenting family history is our focus. Growing in our relationship with the Lord is primary in all we say, write or do. We are grateful for all who desire to join us in the same endeavors.
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