My marriage is sick. It caught it from me.
July 7, 2010 7:48 PM Subscribe
How can you be a good partner when you have a debilitating chronic illness? Is it even possible?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I've been married for ten years to a very good man. I have a chronic mental illness that, despite years of treatment, has not improved, and seems to be worsening. I am reaching the end of the line where treatment options are concerned, and I have to face the possibility that things will never get better and that I will just have to learn to cope with being permanently sick.
My illness is making me a bad partner. I can't be counted on to take care of basic life details that you would normally count on your partner for (division of labor stuff, chores, etc.) I also have trouble being generally emotionally supportive, taking an interest in his interests, supporting him with his troubles, and so forth. I spend a good deal of time sleeping, staring off into space, and avoiding going outside or socializing. We don't have much of a sex life or show each other much affection, since the strain has, over the years, eroded much of our closeness.
Basically, I am not a good partner at this point. As my illness seems to worsen, I am not sure I ever will be. It is beginning to affect him in a major way, after so many years of struggling, to the point where he is developing his own illnesses in response.
I am seriously considering dissolving our marriage because I don't think it is fair to put him through this for another decade or more. We would both be better off alone than to be together, making each other more miserable and unhealthy.
My question is: can someone with a chronic illness to this degree ever be a good partner? What can I do to be a better partner? Given the limitations I've described, is it even possible?
If you have a chronic illness (mental or physical), what have you done to help compensate for your limitations and be a better partner? Has anyone had to abandon long-term relationships altogether because of illness?
Please don't give me suggestions for how to treat my illness, or suggest that I am not actually sick. I've been through extensive assessment and treatment with many doctors, medications, and therapies, and I'm continuing to explore the options I have left. I have an extensive and fatal family history of this illness, and my doctor has broken it to me that my chances of recovery are remote.