Caravan Sonnet: 12 Things to Pray for the Spouse of Someone with a Chronic Health Condition

10/23/14

12 Things to Pray for the Spouse of Someone with a Chronic Health Condition

I am so excited to continue this seven part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to "What to Pray for Someone who is  Struggling with a Chronic Health Condition or who loves Someone struggling with a Chronic Health Condition"! In this series (when dealing with the word chronic) I am addressing anyone who has had an illness or pain for more than six months that has affected their life. 

This is a series that I have been praying about and asking the Lord to give great wisdom as I hope it will be helpful for someone! I am often told by very dear and well-meaning people, "I am praying for you" but am also told "I don't really know how to pray for you" or am asked just as often "How can I really pray for you?". While this series won't address every idea of what to pray and is not a "formula" I do hope and pray that it is a good "jumping off point" for you to be praying for those that you love who struggle with chronic health issues and their loved ones. 

If you are interested in seeing the complete list of the topics for the series you can find them by clicking on the links below:


12 Things to Pray for Someone Struggling with a Chronic Health Condition
 12 things to Pray for Yourself as you Struggle with a Chronic Health Condition
 12 things to Pray for the Parents of a young child with a Chronic Health Condition
12 things to Pray for the Parents of an adult child with a Chronic Health Condition
12 things to Pray for Caretakers of someone with a Chronic Health Condition
 12 things to Pray for the Spouse of someone with a Chronic Health Condition
 12 things to Pray for the Children of Parents with a Chronic Health Condition

** Thank you to  several married couples who are in this situation and who graciously shared their hearts, hurts, hopes, fears, and joys about this subject with me.**

1. Pray for their marriages  
Did you know that having a spouse who is chronically ill increases the divorce statistics by 80%?!?? These odds are scary but completely understandable as the stress, frustration, fear, anger, and all of the other emotions are usually taken out on each other because you can not "get mad at a disease". Pray for the strengthening of these relationships, the protection against the temptation to cheat, and that the Lord would bind these two people together despite the difficult circumstances that they face.

"Therefore what God has joined together let no one separate."
-Mark 10:9-

2. Pray for compassionate and "steady" people to join them on this journey
These couples (and these spouses who have someone who is struggling with a chronic health condition) need compassionate and "steady" people to join them on this journey that they are on. By "steady" I mean friends who will not get caught up in the emotions of the moments or the difficulties but will support these spouses and these couples as a WHOLE reminding them of the love that they have for each other, the courage that they have to face these difficult circumstances, and the hope that someday (even though it might seem far away) things can get better. These spouses need friends who will lovingly not let them wallow in self-pity but will encourage them to be courageous.  Pray for friends who will also help take the burdens off of these spouses by volunteering to "give them a break" to get out of the house while they sit with the person who is sick or support them in other ways. Pray for friends who will stick closer than anyone could imagine.

"...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
-Proverbs 18: 24-

3. Pray for the right words to say 

Spouses often take on the role of caretakers (and the role of interim nurse and doctor) as patients look to them for answers. While down deep patients know that their spouse (unless they have a medical degree) most likely does not know the answer, they still ask questions. This is incredibly exhausting. Most of these times the questions hold incredible weight for the spouse as they must navigate the tricky waters of determining if the spouse needs to just "talk things through", go see the doctor, or if the situation is an emergency. All of this is incredibly taxing on the spouse. Most of the times this is also highly emotional as the patients are looking for words of encouragement and hope. Pray that these spouses will have the right words to say to meet each unique situation.

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say." 
-2 Thessalonians 2:16-17-

4. Pray for EXTREME patience
As mentioned in number three, spouses are often asked the same questions again and again and again and again. It can be scary and difficult to understand as a patient what exactly is going on in your body and also scary to know what the future will hold. These fears and questions are often asked repeatedly- even daily and hourly- and after a while this can drain even the best spouse. In addition to this spouses can be (understandably) frustrated as their lives are often dictated by how their spouse is feeling. This is incredibly confusing as with a lot of Chronic Illnesses (and even chronic pain) symptoms can flare or subside with little to no warning. For example a couple might be planning for a night out of the house and about two hours before  (or even minutes before) the sick spouse can be all of a sudden bedridden. To navigate this situation and a thousand others that can happen everyday these spouses need lots of patience (seriously they are heroes!) so pray for their patience. 

"Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love."
-Ephesians 4:2-

5. Pray for their resilience 
Webster's Dictionary defines resilience as: "the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens... the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc." Spouses need prayers for resilience EVERY SINGLE DAY. These spouses are watching the people they love most on earth struggle with something that they can not control or stop (no matter how much they wish that they could). These spouses have to watch the people that they love the most deal with incredible pain and sickness every single day. Many times spouses have had to give up their own dreams and plans due to these chronic health conditions. These dreams and plans could mean giving up the dream of a certain job (because they can't work the hours required), the dream for kids (as some chronic health conditions make this difficult- even for fostering and adopting in some states and countries), the dream for a certain lifestyle, the dream of travel, the dream of a more "easy life", and the list goes on and on and on and on. These spouses pour their hearts and souls into their loved ones and there is no "leaving" at the end of the day. Its exhausting and tiring and requires resilience so pray for this daily.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 
- John 16:33-

6. Pray for their Loneliness
There is a loneliness so deep that it cuts to the soul for those that are the spouse of someone with a chronic health condition. I think that this article from the NY Times said it best: 
For three years, Mr. Paradise's life had centered on his wife and her illness. He visited her every day during her numerous hospital stays, gave her body rubs, helped her take her medications and comforted her. At home he did the laundry, housecleaning, shopping and cooking. And that day at the hospital, while a nurse comforted him, Mr. Paradise said he felt overwhelmed. "She used to do everything," he said. "I'm a confused person. I'm going several different ways at the same time." Mr. Paradise, who has no children, also talked about some of his relatives who no longer keep in touch with him. "People should get closer," he said. And as he reminisced about the reunions the family used to have, he broke down and wept. Alone and devastated by his wife's illness, Mr. Paradise is one of nearly a dozen husbands and wives interviewed who share a common experience in caring for an ill spouse. They agreed that theirs was an experience few people who have not been in their shoes could appreciate. "The forgotten group," "the silent army" and "the hidden role" are terms they use to describe themselves. The spouses said that even close friends and family did not know what it was like to live in an endless round of medical tests, hospital visits and round-the-clock care; to be married and at the same time feel the loss of a companion and lover, and to feel ignored as family members, friends and medical professionals focus their attention on the sick partner. " 
(You can read the rest of the article HERE)
Pray for these spouses and the loneliness that they face.

"...behold I am with you always..."
-Matthew 28:20-
7. Pray for the times when they want to say "ENOUGH is enough"
We are all human and the reality is that there are sometimes where these spouses want to say, "enough". These spouses carry an incredible amount of responsibility, emotional baggage and financial fears and sometimes want to say, "enough". In our day and age it is common to hear of people walking out of marriages for less things than these circumstances and it takes a courage and a warrior's heart to say that "my enough" is found in nothing or no one but Christ. Sadly often times well-meaning friends, family members, or co-workers encourage this behavior by not just sympathizing with the well spouse but encouraging the well spouse to find their complete unhappiness with life in this situation. Often times this leads to resentment of the sick spouse (unintentionally or intentionally), a decimation of character of the sick spouse, a question of motives and actions regarding the sick spouse (some examples are: "well they felt good enough to go to _______, surely they could have cooked a healthy dinner for you" or "she never wants to make love to her husband but she seems friendly enough with other men" or "I thought I saw your spouse out earlier today at the grocery store (or the shopping mall) why couldn't they come to the work party tonight... are you sure that they are really sick"  or "you are such a nice person and always doing so much for others it seems like your spouse would be more happy with all that you do" and the list goes on and on and on and on.) These comments and others do NOT help the marriage and these well-meaning people are doing a huge disservice to this couple. Instead these spouses need a "safe place" to vent and people that will encourage them to continuing living with honor and courage and NOT to get wallowed in self-pity. These people need friends who understand that while they might not understand the actions or the motives of the sick spouse they can lovingly support these people who are hurting and struggling with their words and their actions by supporting the marriage.

"... Be Strong and Courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it... all of it... "

-I Chronicles 28: 20-


8. Pray for their Strength to meet Each Day 
Pray for their strength to meet each new challenge and each day.

"O Lord, my might, and my strength, and my refuge in the day of tribulation..."
-Jeremiah 16:19-

9. Pray for their tenderness and compassion.  
The role of a spouse who is a caregiver is one of hourly tenderness and compassion. Pray that they will have the strength to meet these needs each day.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."
-Colossians 3:12-

10 Pray for the return of their joy. 
Illness can steal so many different things from people including joy. While a well spouses' role is difficult, lonely, and sometimes very depressing, there are many couples who can and do thrive in this situation. Pray that this well spouse will see the incredible opportunity before them of not only what they feel has been lost or stolen from them but the opportunities in front of them. Pray for their joy!

"They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
-Isaiah 35:10-


11.  Pray for their Hope
This role of caregiver may appear hopeless but our God is a God of hope - even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. Pray that they will not lose hope for their spouses, themselves, or the situation. 

"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."
-Psalm 27:13-

12. Pray for peace. 
Many times these families are in the state of "chaos" where everyone involved is just trying to do the best that they can. This can create a host of tension, awkwardness, and also unrest. Pray for the peace of their household and for peace to reign in every area of their lives. 

"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way."
-2 Thessalonians 3:16-

Extra Resources:
On such a sensitive and needed topic I would be remiss if I did not offer some resources that might be helpful to those who are in this situation:

Organization:
The Well Spouse Organization

Books:
God On Mute

And these books came, while I have not personally read them, came from highly respected sources and might provide some encouragement and help for these extremely difficult circumstances:

In Sickness as In Health

Mainstay: for the Well Spouse of the Chronically Ill 

I hope these ideas have been helpful y'all! Sometimes when you are praying for someone with a chronic health condition you may feel that you are not "seeing" any results or doing anything, but the truth is you are!! God promises that He hears our prayers and He does hear yours! Keep praying for your friends and loved ones!! You are a blessing!!

6 comments:

  1. This is incredibly sweet! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your sweet comment Jess!!
      :) Rebecca

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    1. Thank you so much Cassie for your sweet comment and for stopping by!! Thank you for encouraging me about this series! It had been on my heart and in my prayers for over a year before I have written it and it is so close to my heart! Thank you again for stopping by and thank you for taking the time to leave such an encouraging comment!
      :) Rebecca

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  3. Wow. You've covered so much here and I am so grateful, thank you. I'll not only be praying, but I'll also be mindful of these things as I try to care for caretakers!!

    <3 Daisy

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    1. Aww thank you so much Daisy for your sweet comment and for taking the time to leave a comment! What a blessing you are with your prayers and for being mindful of caretakers!! Thank you again for your sweet comment!
      :) Rebecca

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