Today’s devotional is written by Lori Steinkamp Lassen. She is our only daughter, who has been married to her husband, Scott for 27 years. Lori is the mother of four children, and has worked with the ministry for many years. May her devotional deepen your spiritual walk with the Lord. – Charlyne
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14
Do you remember the vows you took? The ones to love, honor and cherish in sickness and in health? Oh yea, those! If you were like me, I didn’t give much thought to the sickness and health part of our vows, assuming that we would always live happily ever after with no problems.
At some point, I would guess that every marriage will go through a season where the health challenges of one spouse disrupt your normal routine. For example, after the birth of a child, mom is usually consumed with caring for a newborn while healing from delivery. That is a season when Dad needs to step up and carry more of the load.
You or your spouse may someday face a significant medical challenge that changes your marriage. Nobody wants to think about these seasons of hardship, but it is a reality that you may one day find yourself facing.
You can take steps as a couple to help cope with this type of situation.
Communication is key.
Open and honest communication about fears, needs, and concerns will help each of you understand the new role you have in your relationship after receiving a diagnosis. The one who has been diagnosed with a medical condition is likely feeling overwhelmed by the new reality and may sometimes feel like a burden. The person caring for a spouse with a chronic illness can feel emotionally and physically drained, so it will be important for each of you to communicate honestly about your struggles to help each other manage the illness. Don’t be afraid to seek outside counsel to help you discuss some things.
Don’t be a nag.
I remember when my dad had his first stroke. He came home from the hospital with a new plan for a healthier lifestyle. It was easy for my mom and his family to constantly remind him when he reached for a sweet snack or tried to skip a walk because he was tired. We came to understand that it was not our responsibility to nag.
You have good intentions wanting your spouse to follow the new guidelines that may come with a new diagnosis. Instead of micro-managing or nagging, come alongside your spouse and help them adapt to the new lifestyle changes with your encouragement, not your nagging.
Take care of yourself.
The caretaker spouse needs to make their health a priority, both physically and emotionally, to be a better support for their spouse. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising will allow you to stay healthy while caring for your spouse.
Find joy in the hard times.
Nobody wants to go through a difficulty with their health, but there can still be joy in this season. Ask the Lord to show you new ways to care for each other. Maybe you can no longer play a sport you used to enjoy together, but you could take the time to find a new hobby that you can enjoy as a couple.
Allowing a diagnosis or lifestyle change to consume your life can be easy. Be intentional about not letting that happen. You and your spouse are more than just a diagnosis. Don’t forget the characteristics of your marriage that were important before an illness changed things. Did you love going to the movies together? You may not be able to do that right now, but you can create a memorable movie experience in your living room. Were dinners out a weekend staple? Find a new restaurant to try and order takeout. Keep making memories together in this new season of life.
We serve a good God, and He is in control. It may feel like you are powerless right now, but keep looking to Him for the strength to face each new day.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16