Marriage is hard under the best of circumstances. Throw a chronic illness like fibromyalgia into the mix, and well, let’s just say that things get interesting.

It’s hard not to take on the roles of patient and caregiver. Those are certainly roles that have become a piece of your relationship, but don’t let it become the defining piece. You both need to continue to be lovers, friends, and companions.

It’s so important to be honest in your relationship. Talk about your frustrations with your limitations, your pain, your desire to be who you used to be, and the person you’re hoping to become. Your spouse needs to talk about their frustrations with your neediness at times, your inability to engage in previously enjoyed activities, and their physical and emotional needs.

Keep in mind that when there is stress in your marriage, it will affect your health, causing more pain and flare-ups of symptoms. Do your best to resolve your issues sooner rather than later. Communication is so important. If it’s hard for you to say, write it down instead. Whatever works for you. Seek counseling if you need it.

Pain and fatigue can become consuming, making your world much smaller than you ever imagined. Help your spouse understand by sharing word pictures that describe your symptoms and let them know that you are equally disappointed that you can no longer do some of those mutually enjoyed activities. Tell them to never stop asking, because when you feel well enough, you will absolutely say YES.

For some, I know the stress of chronic illness tears at the fabric of their marriage, rendering it unfixable and utterly, irreparably broken. It takes a spouse who is willing to be less selfish and more serving to keep their marriage not only intact, but growing richer as well. Remember your vows you spoke to each other, including for better or worse, in sickness and in health.

When you vowed for better or worse, you could not have anticipated having fibromyalgia and all the limitations it puts on your life. But this is the hand you have been dealt, play it to the best of your ability….together.

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