Help Them Understand
Refrain from trying to do more than you should physically. Every time you do too much you are sending signals that you are able to do more, even though only you will know how much you will pay for it later in pain.
Do the research on your illness or symptoms and continue to fight for a diagnosis. If you already know what your illness is, get as much information on it as possible and keep well-informed.
Invite your spouse to accompany you to a support group meeting, a workshop or conference on your illness. Explain to him that you just want to find out more information about this illness, and that he might find it interesting.
Your spouse may find our monthly column Caregiver's Corner interesting, which is featured each month in our support newsletter…And He Will Give You Rest. We also have a few excellent resources. Clean out the reading materials in the bathroom, and leave only the newsletter. You spouse may just be bored enough to eventually read it.
Lisa Copen is the founder and director of Rest Ministries. She lives with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and is the author of When Chronic Illness Enters Your Life Bible Study.
“Hi, Honey,” she replied to her spouse, as she carefully reached out for his hand. But he didn't reach out to take her outstretched hand; he just let it sit there empty on the scratchy hospital blanket. He looked at her with tired eyes, full of frustration.
“The doctor said that there is nothing wrong,” he said. “I think maybe you've just been making all of this up the last year.”
She was heartbroken and pulled her hand back. He was her lifeline, the one thing that was getting her through all of this. He was the only person who she trusted would always believe her, understand and offer love and sympathy. And now he thought she'd been deceptive, lying about her pain.
What To Do
Unfortunately, this scenario is a true story… and all too familiar for many couples. Illness can have a devastating effect on relationships, especially when it is invisible, difficult to diagnose, and hard to even understand. So what's the answer if your spouse doubts that you have an illness? While there are no easy answers or tips that will guarantee results, here are a few ideas to make the journey easier.
Pray. Rather than praying as a last resort, start praying first. Ask God to give your spouse wisdom and discernment, especially regarding your illness. Pray that God will send people into your spouse's life that can be a godly influence, such as other spouses of people with illness. Pray for a diagnosis so that you can have the benefit of the medical world on your side. Allow your spouse some time to see that the illness is real. Don't expect him/her to be convinced by what you say. Let him/her see how you are over a period of time.
Surround yourself with supportive people who do understand that you have an illness and it's implications. Join a support group or a women's bible study. Ask for prayer for your marriage. Let others encourage you and stand by you when you need the emotional support. See a pastor if you need to talk to someone about your marriage and the effect his or her doubts are having on the relationship.