Physical health conditions can create a variety of problems for a relationship. If one partner is diagnosed with a health condition, it can be devastating for the individual as well as the couple. Despite marriage vows that usually mention “in sickness and in health,” for many people, physical illnesses can place a strain on the relationship that can lead to a divorce.
Physical health conditions that create a need for diet restrictions, such as diabetes, can change a person’s lifestyle completely. A partner’s response to the diagnosis can have a big impact on the relationship. For example, a partner who continues to make unhealthy meals or fill the kitchen with tempting foods can cause a lot of problems. If your partner has a health condition that is going to cause major changes in diet, educate yourself. Learn what foods are okay and which foods are off limits. Try to be supportive of your partner. Even though you might not need to change your own habits, making some changes to your diet can certainly be helpful to your spouse.
Chronic pain issues can be difficult for a marriage as well. A person with a health condition such as fibromyalgia, may not be able to do a lot of physical activity. This might mean your spouse isn’t able to go hiking or ride in a car for long periods of time. It may also mean that your spouse’s ability to do a lot of the household chores may be limited. Learn to talk to your partner about his/her limitations and solve the problem of how to get work done together as a team. This might mean switching chores or asking for help from others.
A variety of health conditions can lead to sexual dysfunction as well. This can be devastating to a marriage. Medications, such as some antidepressants, may have side effects that cause sexual problems also. Communicate with your partner and discuss strategies to meet your needs. Also learn about your partner’s health condition and find ways to be supportive.
If a physical health condition is impacting your relationship, it may be a good idea to seek counseling. Physical health conditions definitely impact mental health as well. Marriage counseling can help couples learn to work together as a team and to overcome barriers caused by health conditions.