Coping with the Chronic Illness of a Spouse

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Sometimes couples are faced with problems they do not anticipate. One such issue is that of chronic illness. A chronic illness is a medical condition that lasts for a long time, sometimes for the rest of someone's life. Chronic illnesses include conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and cancer, among many others. Chronic illnesses may appear quickly or gradually, and they are often unexpected. As a couple, be informed about the illness you are facing. Seek out information from your doctor and from reputable medical websites. Organizations may exist to help those with your spouse's chronic illness. Learning about the condition will help you know what to expect. Although facing a spouse's chronic illness is difficult, it does not have to be a wholly negative experience. The Family: A Proclamation to the World reminds us that "Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation" (¶ 7). Several things can be done to help spouses fulfill their "solemn responsibility to love and care for each other" (¶ 6), even in the face of chronic illness. In fact, as spouses work to handle this trial together, their marriage relationship may even be strengthened7.