Saturday, September 06, 2008

Chronic Illness and Divorce

Not the most uplifting title, is it?

They’re not my favorite words, either. But they are not mine. While I’m often amused by the search terms that bring people to my site, the phrases that pop up the most aren’t wacky or laughable; they’re sobering:

“Chronic illness and divorce.”

Or some combination of the words “spouse” “illness” “sick” “want to leave” “can I leave” and “marriage.”

See what I mean? Fairly sobering…and yet not unexpected, either.

(But another combination of words comes to mind: unconditional love.)

As I wrote in an older post, it isn’t easy being the healthy one in a marriage with chronic illness, and it obviously isn’t easy being the sick one, either. I won’t repeat what I wrote in that post, but no one likes needing to be that vulnerable, and constantly being a caregiver for a spouse can be draining on so many levels.

And, as someone I interviewed in Life Disrupted pointed out, the literature out there on younger couples dealing with chronic illness is scarce. While there are many universal challenges of chronic illness and marriage, being young has its own unique ones.

Why do I mention all of this?

It’s been on my mind lately because next week is Invisible Illness Week, and nowhere are the complications of invisible illness more apparent than in personal relationships, particularly romantic ones. After all, this is the time when life is supposed to be coming together, not the time when your body feels like it's falling apart. As part of Invisible Illness Week I'm speaking at a virtual conference about friendship, dating, and marriage when you’re young and chronically ill. It’s on Friday, Sept. 12 at 3pm Pacific Time, and I hope many of you will attend!

(Because, you know, the Q&A portion will be a lot more interesting if there are questions!)

I'll also be blogging for Invisible Illness Week this coming week, so stay tuned.


Barbara said...

And the information for young single women who are chronically ill is even harder to find. Also, I've noticed that the information on chronic illness seems to be compartmentalized. It's hard to find books that deal with work, healing, dealing with doctors, or housework, but most books don't seem to tie everything together.

These would be some interesting topics to blog on for Invisible Chronic Illness Week too.

Anonymous said...

...and even harder for those of us that are young and then decided to have children along with our chronic illness.

It's been amazing, and exactly what we wanted, but much much harder on my body than I wanted to realize. Choosing to have children has meant choosing to have even less capacity than the chronic illness left me with.

Maybe I'll write about that... :)

my pink toes

Laurie said...

Thanks for the comments!

Barbryan, I couldn't agree more, especially having seen both sides--the single life and the relationship life. The challenges in each situation are different but equally complicated and equally pronounced, and neither get enough exposure.

Leah, I hear you! Great point. From what I learned interviewing patients with children and discussing the possibility of children with other patients in Life Disrupted, having children brings about so many other conversations, considerations, and challenges.

Jared At The Doctor Job said...

Good luck with the conference tomorrow!

themigrainegirl said...

Hi lady: My boyfriend and I have the occasional sobering discussion on how my illness (and his less frequent illnesses) effect our relationship. It's a really tough subject to deal with, and I appreciate your opening the door a bit.

I also think it's awesome that the first link you have in the "buy my book!" section is the Powell's store and not Amazon. (I mean, you include Amazon, too, but Powell's is first! Woohoo!)

Anonymous said...

This is so tough to deal with. I wish that they had more womens divorce lawyers. I have a friend, male, who was in a similar situation. He used one of the better San Diego divorce attorneys in the area and they really took care of him. Of course it was a "male specific" lawyer but I think that might have been what made all the difference.

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