In Sickness Or In Health: Medical Crisis and Marriage

Any couple will tell you that marriage presents unique challenges, and the key to surviving any of them is communication. Health concerns create complex issues though, and a combination of communication, care, and patience will get the family through healthier and happier than ever. Here are some common medical problems that can cause stress and impact your marriage.

Sexual Health

This is a sensitive topic but sexual issues can cause problems for two reasons – feelings of inadequacy for the partner with the problem and concern of lack of desire or self-worth for the other. Men may experience erectile dysfunction or women female sexual dysfunction, which is challenging because causes aren’t identified and treatment is based on symptoms so the underlying problem may go unresolved.

Sexual health problems can mask other more serious problems — for example, erectile dysfunction may be the result of prostate cancer or diabetes and other serious problems – so medical care is urgent. In the process of coping with it and the treatment though, communication between partners is vital. This is not caused by a lack of attraction or love for the other person; it is a genuine health concern experienced by a large percentage of the population.


Most households deal with snoring problems, even a non-habitual snorer will find they have this problem on occasion, due to colds or particularly deep sleep. Many people don’t take it seriously and fail to seek treatment. This is problematic for a variety of reasons. Regular snoring can actually be indicative of a serious health concern. It brings with it a lack of oxygen flow to the brain which can result in anything from sleep deprivation symptoms to death. The most common causes are deviated septum and sleep apnea; both are treatable.

But how does snoring create marriage problems? Imagine sharing a bed nightly with someone who creates such a racket. You’ll become more irritable yourself as sleep deprivation becomes more and more severe, and eventually, it will likely create animosity. You’ll rush to sleep before your partner does, ruining any intimacy and losing quality time together. One partner may even sleep in another room. Snoring must be taken seriously and treated within ability not just for the affected party’s health, but out of respect and concern for the other partner, who deserves sleep, too.

Untreated Depression

Depression affects everyone at some point to some extent, and for many, it’s very serious. Mental health issues are not understood, not acknowledged, and generally stigmatized, so few know the resources to properly seek help. A person dealing with depression is more or less not themselves, and a person who feels this way can’t be an effective partner. There’s no energy for it, and the depressed person isolates and shuts loved ones out. The partner of a depressed person needs to show patience and concern during this time and do everything to ensure that medical attention is sought. Communication is important but it’s delicate in this situation; the depressed partner will likely not communicate, at least effectively. The healthy partner must communicate and work hard to not take behaviors personally until treatment begins to work or the bad period has passed.

Understanding depression can be the most difficult part for both partners. The healthy partner will often desire an explanation and the affected usually won’t understand their feelings well enough to explain them. It is very common for both partners to blame the affected of what transpires. It is important to view it for what it is; an illness. According to Gregg Henriques Ph.D., “…depression is as real of a biological disorder as is juvenile diabetes. And you don’t sit down a diabetic and say, oh, come on, what’s with this insulin stuff? Stop babying yourself. Pull it together. You will see this is just as much a biological disorder.” Although skepticism is understandable, treating it as an illness can help both partners cope with the depression and learn to move forward and handle it in a healthy and productive way. In recent years, there have been many successes with innovative TMS therapies, so that’s something to consider, for sure.

Injuries that affect mobility may seem mild on the surface but they can weigh heavily upon a relationship. When a spouse can’t help with the house, errands, or children because of it, and may require extra care themselves, it can cause a lot of extra stress. These injuries often also take a long time to heal, as people put themselves back to work and play before they’re ready due to a lack of patience.

Soon there may be a treatment that helps sufferers recover from these injuries faster. For example, platelet-rich plasma therapy increases healing time and continues to be developed. Injured parties should continue to seek medical help while waiting for the miracle cure. They should also go through the rehabilitation process slowly, while the healthy partner should show patience and support.

Final Take Away

Marriages come hand in hand with many challenges, and a couple will inevitably face health scares together. Through the highs and lows, minor illnesses, and uncertain futures, the key to maintaining the relationship is communication and patience.


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