Something I avoid thinking about is the strain on marriages that chronic illnesses have. When Kinzie was diagnosed our doctor told us to keep our communication open and to verbalize our needs and feelings.
‘Nod and grin’ was my method of taking it in…he obviously didn’t understand our marriage. We were fine…I naively made myself believe that refusing to think that anything in this world could put a strain on our marriage. I was living in the clouds, soon to come to harsh reality.
From the beginning mine and Joey’s relationship was just natural. We have never really had to put much effort into liking each other or getting along. Disagreements…I could literally count them on one hand. From the beginning we have been blessed with a very easy ability to coexist peacefully and walk through any issue. So obviously our relationship was different, right?
Statistics show that it is 75% times more likely for a marriage where chronic illness is present to end in divorce. Scary to even fathom this being a possibility in my marriage; apparently they do not come across people like us, right?! As if life itself isn’t a challenge, let’s just increase the odds. No added stress, right.
Wrong. The fact is that chronic illnesses happen to anyone. They happen to happy people, healthy people, strong marriages…it doesn’t discriminate. Chronic illness can put an overwhelming strain on a marriage due to the constant needs, financial burdens, stress, lack of communication, tension, lack of sleep, juggling, sacrifices, etc. Now, I am ever so the ‘number’ loving mother these days and I cannot help but hate the 75% thrown out there. How do I make sure to fall into the 25% category? How do I make sure to beat the odds?
Year and a half into this journey and I can honestly say that the advice our doctor gave us was spot on. It does strain our marriage at times, it does wear on us at times…but we constantly try to remember that advice was given to us as a preventative measure. Some days I can honestly say that I literally forget to tell my husband I love him. How horrible is that? And some days I am so tired that I just want to crawl into my bed, melt in my sheets and not wake up for a good 24 hours. Some days I don’t want to talk, explain my day, what is going on with the kids…some days I just don’t want to relive it.
Then there are other days that when he comes home from work I just melt in his arms…the comfort of him just being home is so welcoming and needed. I love how I can de-stress around him and he just listens. I love how he lets me have control and understands that is how I cope. I love that he gets me and I do not have to explain. I love how with just one look, he knows what I need, when I am on over-drive and when I need some time to breathe. I love that he loves me unconditionally, even in my ugliest moments. I love that I love him and can still see his greatest potential, his strengths, and weakness through this all and still know that this is where we belong…that a life without him would be no life at all. I love how he makes me stronger and better.
I figure we have 2 choices… dwell on those ‘some’ days or use what we have been given as a tool. Challenge ourselves into having to work to make things click some days. Challenge ourselves to put each other first no matter how tired, grumpy, stressed, worn out or confused we are. I take that statistic as a challenge. I love my family, I love my life, I love my husband. And frankly, he may be the only person on the face of this earth able to put up with me, and he does it so well.
Two years ago I would describe our marriage as the perfect marriage. Now I can describe it as the perfect marriage given our circumstances. We have a lot of room for improvement but we are trying to always put ourselves first, and work everyday on us and that is a hard thing to learn when for the previous 12 years or so we hadn’t had that exact need, we never really ‘needed’ to do that.
The odds don’t exactly point in our favor, but our faith does. I like beating the odds, I like a challenge. We are trying to be the opposite of the statistic. We want our marriage to stay strong and we try to repair any cracks as they happen in fear that a weaker marriage may crumble and give way. I am one lucky girl to have married my best friend. No matter how funny, frumpy, tired, ugly, sad I feel he looks at me like I am the most amazing woman in the world.
I guess what inspired me to write this is because those numbers are scary, those facts are real. But we are real too. We are prepared to face a battle and are fully committed to it. I want to give people the advice that was given to us…to remember to put each other first as often as possible and never on just on the back-burner.
Living in a family with a chronic illness has so many challenges, but it also has opportunities to grow, learn and harvest skills and knowledge that you never knew you had in you. Team work, well, it works. A marriage needs just as much nurture as everyone else that any illness touches. Just because the odds are against you doesn’t mean you should just give way and join the majority. I can fully see how many marriages crumble under strain, but I get how many relationships flourish when given the proper environment to grow. I would much rather be a gardener and watch things grow than a fire starter and allow things to crumble.
I cannot do this alone, and I know that is why Joey was brought to me…someone who brings out the fight in me, the best in me and continually encourages me to keep going. It is possible to get through anything…it just takes a lot of work. When you are blessed with a great marriage and are thrown a curve ball that imprints negativity more than you think you can handle or more than you are use to, then you fight. You fight until you cannot fight anymore. You fight until you win. Diabetes won’t claim us as victims, we won’t allow it.