Chronic Illness and Keeping the Marriage Thriving

6 years ago

"Dating" your spouse when dealing with a chronic illness or pain can be difficult, and if you are like my husband and I, it often falls pretty low on the priority list of things to do.

Throw a toddler into the picture and it's not likely going to happen on the weekly monthly basis that we'd like.

Photo by Jason Goldman.

Our idea of dating when we were first married (because that's really when we first were able to date since most of our "dating" was intercontinental communication, but that's another story for another day), was going to parks to run/walk/hike, traveling, and eating at various ethnic restaurants. All of which is virtually impossible for me now.

There's not a lot of resources for chronic illness and marriage and unfortunately statistics show that "75 percent of marriages plagued by chronic illness end in divorce."

Jesus is the "flame" that keeps our marriage alive. I once heard a pastor who said he and his wife have absolutely nothing in common but Jesus, so in reality they have everything in common. My husband and I can vouch that even in our short marriage, without the Lord, we could not make it through the trials we continue to endure. My husband really is a special gift God has given me. He is so good to me and never complains. His laid back personality and mild tempered spirit is exactly what this "type A" worry-wort needed.

But even with a strong relationship with God, marriage still takes lots of work. Since my debilitating symptoms began over a year and a half ago, I can probably count on one hand the times that my husband and I have gone on a "date."

Unfortunately it seems like the "date" ideas and planning fall largely on the spouse who is healthy, especially when you are mostly housebound, like myself. So what are some ways you can help keep that spark alive in your marriage when you can't hardly get off the couch? Here are a few of my ideas:

Dessert or coffee date

Go out and get your favorite dessert or coffee together, or have the healthy spouse can make it at home if you can't get out. Dessert and coffee is cheaper than a meal and takes less time which is good if you don't feel like being out of the house long. Also if you have young children the healthy spouse can go get those pumpkin spice lattes without having to get a baby sitter!

Little reminders

Leave notes for each other telling each other how much you love and appreciate each other.

Have a real date!

Plan for a sitter or have the grandparents to pick up the kiddos, and go out or have the healthy spouse bring home dinner from your favorite restaurant. Turn on some music and light some candles and you've got yourself a romantic dinner!


Snuggle in bed and catch up on that Amazing Race episode you missed or sit down to read together.

Get outside

Go for a leisurely stroll, look at the beautiful fall leaves, and talk.

Be spontaneous

Surprise your spouse every once in a while. Bring home a treat from the grocery store when you go shopping or a movie from Redbox that you know they'd like.

What date ideas do you have? We could definitely use them, so share them in the comments!

The Purpose of Pain blogs at, where this piece originally appeared.

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