7 Ways to Help Your Marriage Thrive When One Spouse is Sick

7 Ways to Help Your Marriage Thrive When One Spouse is Sick

Remember your vows? “In sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part.” Your marriage vows probably said something similar. It’s sad when you or your spouse experience a major surgery, accident, or illness. You pull yourself together, tell yourself “this too shall pass,” and look forward to getting back to normal in a few weeks or even months. But when the “sickness” part settles in for the long haul it gives you opportunity to show how committed you really are to those vows. You may have entered the world of family caregiving.

A few years ago I interviewed Jared Dunten and his wife for our radio program. Jared suffered a broken neck and injured spinal cord in a diving accident, and has been paralyzed from the neck down ever since. While in his wheelchair he met and married Kimberly, and they now have two wonderful boys. While everyone hopes Jared will one day be able to walk again, that’s not likely. Watching Jared and Kimberly together demonstrates both the challenge and the beauty of long-term love in the face of sickness.

I’ve had several conversations with one of the support staff at one of the hospitals where I work. Her husband has been on dialysis for over ten years, and just got out of the hospital again for the “thousandth” time. “This has been my life,” she said. Both her fluctuating emotions and her resilience in the face of his chronic illness speak to the weight she carries and her inner strength through it all.

My husband Al is also fighting chronic illness. Some days he feels great and does much of what any healthy person would do. Other days it’s a struggle just to get up, eat, breathe, and sit down again. The doctor’s visits, medications, and never knowing whether he’ll be “OK” on any given day, do get old. While we continue to pray for God’s strength and healing, humanly speaking we know there may be difficult days in the months and years ahead.

Yes, there are times I cry. Not often. And most of the time I try to not let him see my tears. I don’t want to add any more weight to what he’s already carrying.

But I’m also happy. I wouldn’t trade a moment with my husband for anything in the world. Through this I’ve learned a lot about what the foundations of marriage are all about. Every marriage has challenges, and these keys are important whether your challenge is sickness or something else.

Help Your Marriage Thrive

Here are some things I’ve learned about making marriage thrive in the face of sickness:

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What I Wish Christian Parents Would Teach Kids About Sex

What I Wish Christian Parents Would Teach Kids About Sex

At 15 years old she was scared. Her mother sat there silent. I confirmed that Angela (not her real name) was pregnant, and outlined what medical care during her pregnancy would look like. Her mother had raised Angela in church, and she certainly didn’t expect to ever be sitting in my office with her pregnant daughter. I don’t know exactly what Angela had been taught about sex, but it was clear one message had been “Don’t have sex before marriage.” She felt somewhat ashamed, and her mother was angry.

As an OB-Gyn physician I see many teens and young women who have become sexually active by default. Many conservative Christian churches, if they talk about it at all, have shouted “Don’t do it!” But that has generally been no match for the sexual cultural revolution. Popular media has equated sexuality with success, growing up, individuality, and feeling good. Divorce, domestic violence, and the popular media have made marriage look less desirable than ever. Many young women don’t see any viable alternative.

I can understand why Christian parents are reluctant to teach kids about sex. Many may feel embarrassed or guilty about their own sexual past or the state of their marriage or lack thereof. They may feel powerless to effectively counteract the cultural messages their kids are getting about sex, or feel those messages aren’t really that bad. Or they may be surprised at how early and how pervasively their kids are exposed to those messages. Many may be confused themselves about what messages they want their kids to internalize about sex.

Most studies investigating religion, spirituality, and sexuality conclude that increased involvement in religious activities decreases risky sexual behavior. But what is “risky?” A 2014 survey of Christian adults showed that 61% said they would have sex before marriage. And the problem of absent fathers even among Christians makes the likelihood of early sexuality even greater.

Guilt, fear, and shame are not the answer. Some young women find it difficult to overcome the negative messages and go from “No” before marriage to “Yes” in one given day. Guilt, fear, and shame only make it harder for kids and teens to tell their parents if they are struggling with sexual matters. And a majority of adolescents (93% of boys and 62% of girls in one study) have been exposed to online pornography, and they need a context in which to address what they see.

Messages to Give Kids About Sex

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How to Help Your Spouse Feel Secure

How to Help Your Spouse Feel Secure

Security is about much more than money. Of course it’s nice to have a steady income, safe home, and adequate savings. Insurance salespersons highlight how uncertain the future is in order to sell their products, but in a marriage that kind of security doesn’t go very far. The financial ups and downs that are more likely than ever in today’s economy need not keep you from helping your spouse feel secure.

Your husband or wife probably places a different value on financial security than you do. That’s normal. But remember that money, houses, cars, jobs, and material things can be replaced much easier than most things of true value. Physical and emotional wellbeing, personal relationships, and spiritual vitality can be strong regardless of your financial circumstances.

If your spouse is feeling insecure it’s almost certainly about something deeper than money. Money issues only magnify what’s already going on in one’s own heart and in a relationship. If you want your spouse to feel secure, look at those deeper issues. Throwing money at the problem won’t fix it.

Here are some ways that are likely to help your spouse feel secure regardless of how big or small your bank account is.

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Reasons to Have a Baby for Christians

Reasons to Have a Baby for Christians

Baby FeetSome couples assume that having children is just something you do when you get married, and don’t give much thought to it. Some Christian couples wonder if having a large number of children is the best way to honor God (an idea promoted by some highly visible large Christian families on TV). Some who struggle with infertility wonder about some of the treatments often recommended, especially those that present ethical concerns for people of faith.

Whether you have a dozen children or none, it’s appropriate to consider what would be the reasons a Christian should have a baby. When is having a child a God-honoring wise thing to do, and when is it not? What are God-honoring reasons to have a baby?

Fertility is one of our natural biological functions as human beings. Becoming pregnant and bringing a child into the world is a God-given desire most women have. Children are a blessing from God.

But children are not God’s only blessing. Pregnancy is not a right.

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What to Do When Your Spouse Won’t Change

What to Do When Your Spouse Won’t Change

It’s frustrating with your spouse won’t change. Your husband left his dirty socks strewn on the bedroom floor. Again. Your wife came home with the car’s gas tank light on “empty”. Again. Your husband spends Saturday afternoon and Monday night watching football. Your wife makes the same casserole for the thousandth time. You’ve asked and complained and cajoled and bargained and nagged, but to no avail.

“I told them I can’t stand it when they. . . . Don’t they realize how upset that makes me? When is he/she ever going to change?”

I’ve got the answer for you. NEVER!

If your wife isn’t used to watching the gas gauge and filling up when it’s under half full, your yelling at her won’t make her remember. If your husband has enjoyed football all his life and would rather watch the game than do just about anything else, your complaining won’t change that. By the time you marry, most of your spouse’s habits and preferences and behaviors are pretty well set.

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