I have another marriage-building guest post for you today from a dear friend who started Lupas Sistas. (Check then out on Facebook!) “Through sickness and health” is a vow this couple knows all-too well. Like, comment and share!
FROM THE MR: LUPUS & MARRIAGE
When I was first asked to write a blog about how Lupus has affected my marriage I was hesitant. I didn’t know if I wanted to really face the reality of what Lupus, an auto-immune disease that millions of people have been diagnosed with (especially African Americans), has done to my marriage. I’m a realist – or maybe a glass half-empty type of girl – so I know it wouldn’t be pretty. Then I realized I don’t really know how Lupus has affected my marriage. I know for sure how it’s affected my life individually, but how it’s changed my marriage collectively – I’d only be making an educated guess. There’s a saying in my church that when someone asks you how your marriage is, you tell them to ask your spouse.
So I thought this would be a great opportunity for my husband Antione to give his point of view through a Q&A – and it was eye-opening in such a good way! It showed me just how gentle, caring, loving and observant my husband is and also how brave he is to share his truth, even if it’s not all becoming.
1. What was your marriage like before Lupus and how is it now?
Before Lupus my wife was just as energetic as I was, more so actually. So, I know that there are a lot of things she wants to do with her day, her weekend, her vacation. However, there are times when it’s not wise for her to do all those things in a short span of time.
Lupus changes plans in terms of things that we do together. There are times when we have a list of things that we want to do together over the course of a weekend, or during a vacation. Oftentimes we need to either minimize or ration out those things because of her energy level. My wife needs time to rest and recuperate, but naturally she doesn’t want that to be a hindrance to whatever we may both want to accomplish or experience in our lives.
That also leads me, as her husband, to not want to make her feel that she’s a hindrance or that she’s causing us to miss out on something because she’s tired. It makes one more empathetic. Even though there may be seven things I want us to do on a vacation trip, I may have to tone it down to say, four or five things, and be okay with that. It’s not her fault that she doesn’t have the energy that she or I would want for her to have. So, it’s important to not make her feel that it’s her fault.
2. What were your initial thoughts when I told you I had Lupus?
Honestly, initially I didn’t think much of it. I had been in a relationship with another woman who had Lupus. The only noticeable sign that she had Lupus was a severe flare that affected her maybe once about every three months. She couldn’t get out of bed. She had aches all over. This may have lasted a day, and she was back to normal (so to speak) until the next one.
The contrast between that relationship and my marriage has taught me that all forms of Lupus are not made equal, and Lupus affects people in different ways. My wife has similar flares, but they seem far less frequent. My wife has Lupus Nephritis, which is lupus that affects her kidneys and was told she’d eventually need a transplant. However, it doesn’t show itself externally. So mainly, Lupus appears to affect her in terms of her being easily fatigued, foggy and experiencing joint pains.
3. What were your ideas about how marriage should be and how did those ideas chance since my Lupus diagnosis?
I think I had what I considered to be normal expectations of marriage. We would spend the first few years of marriage enjoying our time together, traveling, etc. I assumed that we’d become more established in our respective careers, and after a few years of enjoying our lives together, we’d start to have a family.
Lupus has put a long-standing yellow traffic light on my ideas. You’re unsure whether to speed up and just run the light in terms of your life, or come to a complete stop. The timeline for a family has been delayed. It’s changed how we go about planning the future that we desire to have for ourselves. It’s not the straight line that we sometimes expect. Sometimes there are some unexpected curves and detours. All the things that we want to accomplish in terms of a family and a life together are very much doable, but we’re taking the road less traveled.
4. What are some adjustments you had to make when you noticed how Lupus was affecting me?
The expectations that I think most husbands place on their wives (physically and emotionally) changed. As I mentioned earlier, she may have the sincerest desire to do a lot of things, but the fatigue may kick in at a bad time.
A lot of it goes back to curbing your enthusiasm, hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. By saying that, I mean that (for me) it’s hard for me to hide how I feel. My facial expressions usually give me away. So, if I don’t expect much, and we’re not able to accomplish something (big or small), then it’s okay because I didn’t expect much. The other side of that is if I don’t expect much, and we are able to do MOST or ALL of something, it’s awesome.
One of the things that’s paramount (for me) when it comes to my relationship with my wife is not making her to feel to blame for her Lupus. I don’t ever want her to think that she is a hindrance to my life individually or our lives collectively. So, I’ll go through whatever additional mental steps I need to go through so that our relationship is the least of her worries.
5. What advice would you give spouses that have partners with a chronic illness?
LEARN TO SHARE HER! Even though you may feel entitled to spend as much time with your wife as you want because she’s YOUR WIFE, understand that there are other people in your wife’s life. She has friends. She has relatives. She has people whose life she impacts in a positive way. She has people who impact her life in a positive way. DON’T BE SELFISH! If you consider her to be an amazing human being, most likely, other people do too! DON’T BE STINGY!