I don’t know about you, but Fibro, and chronic illness in general, has had an impact on my marriage. Recently, I downloaded and read In Sickness as in Health: Helping Couples Cope with the Complexities of Illness.
I’ve read Barbara Kivowitz blog of the same name, and after enjoying a wealth of advice there, I really wanted to read her book. While there were moments in the book where I got a little impatient for felt like things just worked out a little too well, too often, there were just as many (if not more) times while reading where I was really touched by the stories of others who have come before me. Combined with the stories of couples with chronic illness, there is a wealth of advice from a variety of experts (Psychologists, ministers, doctors, healers, etc) on dealing with the various issues that came up in each story. And as the author says:
“even the stories that are most foreign to our experience, we may still find small mirrors in which to see hints of our lives reflected and lessons to be learned.”
One of the key elements in each story was that pain forces us to abandon our previous roles and expectations. The sick partner has little energy to focus on anything but feeling better while the well partner is left feeling helpless and at the same time abandoned in a way.
Some of the most helpful parts of the book were the sections of advice. The “Four Principles of Excellent Communication” provides a great starting point from which to work on creating positive dialogue with our partners. The advice on creating a proper balance of closeness and distance between partners, to keep the integrity and dignity of the partners and the relationship is especially helpful. The description that distinguishes between active and passive coping shows the differences in how we can approach our illness in a positive way. Communication is revisited again in the instructions for “Emptying Your Cup” a process where each partner can express the emotions they are going through without guilt or judgement. She addresses
“resiliency or hardiness: “the ability to adapt constructively to adversity”
and allows Psychologist Dr. Salvatore Maddi to expand on that with
“The Three C’s of Hardiness: Commitment, Control, and Challenge”
And finally, she addresses the elephant in the room, sex and chronic illness. She discusses the various ways that some of the couples handled the issue of sex, how it impacted their lives and the choices they made, as well as possible ways to cope with the way that sex is impacted by chronic illness.
There is so much more to this book than I’ve even listed here and quite honestly for the under $8 Kindle price it’s well worth it. It’s a purchase that I’m glad I made and that I feel comfortable recommending to others who are dealing with chronic illness of any level and marriage; whether it’s Fibromyalgia or Cancer. Read it!
Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you thoughts about it. Share your thoughts in the comments below. Have you found any other great books for dealing with the impacts of chronic pain on a marriage?
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