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Caring for Your Spouse During an Illness

When one of you is sick, whether it's for several days or for many years, you need to take care of each other. Your relationship will change with an illness, but that doesn't have to mean it will change for the worse. There are ways to keep your relationship strong when one of you is ill. You need to keep communicating with each other and keep having fun together.

Keep Communicating

Marriage Q & A's

Q: Does a positive attitude about an illness help?

A: Imagine if someone tells you there is a more than 90 percent chance that things will turn out well. That sounds pretty good. On the other hand, if someone tells you there is a 10 percent chance that things will turn out badly, that doesn't sound too great. But they describe the exact same probability! It's always worthwhile to think positively. In fact, some people believe that a positive attitude enhances your immune system and will actually increase your chances of a full recovery.

The two of you need to keep the channels of communication open more than ever. You will be each other's safest place during this difficult time. Remember to do the following:

  1. When you need to be alone, tell your spouse as kindly as you can.

  2. Try your best to always give each other your full attention.

  3. If you are feeling scared and fearful, tell your spouse. As much as you might want to push him or her away, try as hard as you can to pull him or her closer to you. Give your spouse the chance to support you.

  4. Physical contact is healing and creates closeness. Hug each other often.

  5. Your love for each other will keep your relationship strong. Saying “I love you” to each other reinforces your commitment.

Keep Having Fun

Even though you might not be able to go to a movie or out to dinner every week, the two of you need to keep having fun together. Set aside time just for the two of you to be alone together without any interruptions. There are many things that you can do to have fun, even if you don't have much energy. Here are some things to try:

  • Play a board or card game.

  • Buy a box of markers and draw some colorful pictures together.

  • Rent a classic movie and watch it together.

  • Read a book aloud to each other, one chapter at a time.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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