New Meaning to Our Marriage Vows
In sickness and in health, till death do us part.
When I said these words, I had no idea how much they would play a role in my future. I didn’t understand the depths of what these words would mean to me. I can’t even comprehend how it must feel to watch someone you love feel the pain of psoriatic arthritis and be helpless to stop it. There are many times that I know that PsA has affected my husband’s life just as much, if not more so than mine. Lifelong commitments are hard enough to maintain under the best circumstances. Throw in a curveball like psoriatic arthritis and many relationships, understandably, wither under the additional pressures.
I know that I am quite blessed to have unconditional love and support from my husband. But that doesn’t mean that our relationship hasn’t had to change drastically as a result of my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis. Plans get unexpectedly canceled. I don’t have the energy to get out and try new things. “Clean” has taken on a whole new definition. Without oversharing, let’s just say that those lovely “romantic moments” have become few and far between. There are certainly some very clear-cut differences in our relationship.
Falling into the “caretaker” and “patient” roles
Especially if I am having a flare, this is a really difficult trap to fall into. When the roles of husband and wife change to that of patient and caregiver it takes away from the romantic nature that a marriage should be. Being viewed as “weak” or constantly in need of care is very difficult for me to accept, but it is a sad reality. It is hard to feel romantic after a cortisone shot to the knee or with a ridiculously swollen finger. Let alone having to be carried to use the bathroom in the morning because you are too stiff or in too much pain to walk yourself. That’s not exactly sexy.
Change in daily dynamics
In any relationship, you settle into a routine. For example, one person does the dishes and laundry, another cuts the grass or cleans the bathrooms. Sometime in those first years of marriage, we settled into a routine of who does what around our house. When I am unable to keep up with what I have always done, the chore then falls on my husband’s shoulders. The change in the daily dynamics of simple routines causes a great deal of stress on our relationship. With a family of 5, dishes and laundry pile up under the most watchful eye. But when I have a flare, or even a day when I just am not feeling well, the whole system gets backed up and the only way to fix it is if my husband steps in (after working all day) and tries to catch up with what I couldn’t do that do.
This is one of my most emotionally challenging parts of our relationship. I absolutely hate to fall into this cycle. I feel guilty for being unable to hold up my end of our partnership and fear that he will begin to resent me for having psoriatic arthritis. I fear that the daily toll of living with this disease will build a wall with this cycle of guilt and resentment.
Mounting medical bills combined with an inability to work can cause a great deal of financial strain on any relationship. Basic financial reasons alone are responsible for a large portion of divorces without even considering the financial strains of psoriatic arthritis. Without insurance, most biologic treatments are well into the thousands, just for one dose. Plus the cost of x-rays, MRIs, lab work, and surgeries compounded by the drop from two incomes to one and the stress that those financial strains cause can feel insurmountable for anyone.
In sickness and in health, new meaning to our marriage vows
These are changes in our marriage that we deal with every day. The “new normal” of life, if you will. It is all part of adjustments that need to be made if our relationship will be able to survive these most trying changes. Especially so given that the divorce rate is much higher when chronic illness is involved and even more so when the woman is the one who is chronically ill. These are daunting hurdles for any couple to overcome. With support, understanding, compromise, and a healthy dose of love, we might just come out stronger than ever on the other side.
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