What started out as an ordinary Friday night turned into a longer-than-decade caregiving journey with my husband. We were young, in our early 30s, forced to travel a road that many doctors couldn’t put a diagnosis to the symptoms he was struggling with daily.
Because of that frustration, we began navigating a healthier alternative to his healing. One particular doctor’s appointment still stands out to me. I remember the doctor talking to me while my husband was out of the room, commending me for my continued support of him throughout the years.
I didn’t understand exactly what she was saying, but she went on to further explain that many times she has seen from her own experience that when illness stretches on for years, with or without solutions, many spouses get tired of supporting the other and walk away – either emotionally or physically. She saw a difference in us. We were united and had a strong connection with each other. She could feel the support I was giving my husband.
To be honest, never did I think to blame my husband for his illness. It was always us against the disease, even when the disease didn’t have a name.
I believe God blesses that approach. When we took our vows, “in sickness and in health,” we meant them. Did we plan to walk that path in our 30s? No, but looking back, I have always said that because of that path, our marriage is stronger than it might have been if we had both remained healthy and off this journey.
Caregiving for your spouse is so very different than for a parent or other relative, in my opinion. Your spouse is your teammate whom you rely on for support, emotional, spiritual and physical. When they cannot be there for you because they are fighting to survive every day, it’s so difficult.
Today I want to encourage you that when you’re in the middle of the caregiving journey, when you’re exhausted, want answers or feel like it’s simply too hard, remember that you are your spouse’s teammate. It’s the both of you against the disease; not you against each other.
When I chose to approach caregiving with that mindset, it changed everything. When I choose to approach marriage with that mindset, our marriage deepened and we have a connection that blesses us both.
Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, writer, podcaster, and speaker, in that order. Cheri loves to encourage people through her fiction series and many nonfiction books, including devotionals, Bible studies, and compilation books.
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MORE CAREGIVING Information:
Caregiver’s Corner Newsletter
I invite you to join my author friend, Tracy Crump’s monthly newsletter for caregivers. Here’s her information.
Caregiver’s Corner shares short stories of joys and heartaches along with tips now and then to help you survive this season and even make sweet memories. Together, we’ll cheer and encourage each other through the caregiving journey.
Link to subscribe to Tracy’s blog
Tracy Crump knows from experience the burdens caregivers shoulder after caring for both her parents and her 100-year-old mother-in-law. A former ICU nurse, Tracy dispenses hope in her award-winning book, Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness Twenty-two of her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and she has published hundreds of devotions, articles, and short stories in diverse publications such as Guideposts books, Focus on the Family, Woman’s World, and Ideals.