“Maybe it’s OK that we’re struggling. Maybe it’s enough that we’re committed. Maybe we need to celebrate that we’ve survived together for more than twenty years…that we’re committed to trying to make it better. ” (Cindee Snider Re)





Our marriage is a redemption story. We weren’t unfaithful. We didn’t stray physically or emotionally – but we did lose our way, releasing hands and hearts across the years, my husband to his job and me to our kids. We forgot to hold on and reach for one another when the winds began to blow and the waves started to roll. We forgot to stand together, hold on, and lean in. So we drifted apart, wondering whether we’d made a mistake in marrying, wondering if we’d each chosen the wrong life partner.

Over the years, we stopped dreaming together, lost our ability to communicate, and survived as a couple only because we were both committed. We didn’t feel love. Some days, we didn’t even like each other, but we were committed.

So we slogged on, trying to communicate, slowly trying to give each other grace. We were buried under a tremendous amount of stress with four seriously ill kids in their teens and early twenties. and me, a seriously, chronically ill wife and mom. Most days, we were just trying to survive.

Maybe it was OK that we were struggling. Maybe it was enough that we were committed. Maybe we needed to celebrate that we’d survived together for more than twenty years through incredibly difficult circumstances. Maybe it was enough that we were committed to improving our relationship.



Somewhere along the way, Tony and I lost sight of each other, his life consumed with work, mine with all the medical needs of our family: monthly appointments with dozens of specialists, coordinating medications, treatments, and procedures, managing prolonged hospital stays, insurance appeals, and homeschooling five kids through high school amid all the chaos.

The kids and I lived a life Tony knew increasingly less about. He didn’t understand many of our medical conditions and attended few appointments. The more difficult our home life became, the more Tony poured himself into work. As our kids became more outspoken about his absence, the distance between Tony and me grew. Along the way, bitterness seeped into my soul.

With our marriage crumbling and our kids’ lives spinning out of control, Tony retired early, coming home to help. Six months later, he pulled me aside and said, “I knew our kids were sick. I know that you’re sick, but I had no idea what you were all going through. I lived here … and I had no idea.”

But I, too, needed to accept my role in our broken relationship. I had stopped communicating, stopped trying to explain, and stopped asking for help. I had learned to figure things out and do what needed to be done, but I had cut my husband out of the equation. The more self-sufficient I became, the less he felt needed, and the less he felt needed, the more he poured himself into work. It was a vicious cycle. Before our marriage could heal, we had to learn to forgive.



Time became a non-negotiable in our healing journey. With our marriage at the breaking point, we committed to dinner out (in the same booth in the same restaurant) every Thursday for a year. Those dinners started off painful and uncomfortable. Sometimes, we barely spoke; sometimes, we argued; sometimes, we left the restaurant frustrated and angry. Often, I cried. And sometimes, it took everything in me to stay in that booth all the way through dinner.


Slowly, things changed. One Thursday, we talked without tears, impatience, or frustration. Another Thursday, we reminisced about the early years, the good times, the days before sickness tossed our world into chaos. As the weeks grew into months and spring warmed into summer, we persevered, stumbling through all kinds of conflicting emotions. But we also began to laugh, talk about the things that hurt, and bravely share our hopes and dreams. We began to ask each other questions about this incomprehensible life we were living. Some Thursdays, we left the restaurant smiling, and some nights, the tears were good.

One month, we braved an overnight getaway. We couldn’t leave for long (just 24 hours), but it was good. A few months later, we scheduled another overnight, looking forward to the time away – 24 uninterrupted, unhurried, and unscheduled hours spent celebrating our marriage.

Time together is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for a strong and healthy marriage.



I wish I’d understood the importance of intimacy so much sooner in our marriage because intimacy is holy ground. After three decades of marriage, I’m still not sure I can describe exactly what I mean, but for us, intimacy facilitates trust and authenticity. Giving ourselves wholly and honestly to one another is a vulnerable and deeply beautiful experience, fostering greater forgiveness and more grace toward one another than any other aspect of our relationship. We enjoy one another more after three decades of marriage than we did as newlyweds. Intimacy is a gift we offer each other, and when we unconditionally accept one another as-is, it becomes a precious and holy experience.



This is something we are still learning. We bring different gifts to the marriage, and those differences are GOOD. My husband sees the big picture. I see the small details. Sometimes, Tony leaps with limited information; sometimes, I’m trapped in the minutia. Tony is spontaneous. I need time and space to process. Tony is excellent at small talk and making people feel welcome. I am comfortable behind the scenes. My husband loves food. I eat to survive. We need each other; we need our different gifts, skills, and perspectives.

Together, we are better.

Together, we bring a breadth and depth to our relationship we wouldn’t experience apart. The ways we solve conflict, handle money, use our time, deal with pain, handle illness, work through stress, celebrate holidays, dream, eat, clean, and care for friends and family are different – but those differences, while sometimes challenging, are also really good.

We are so much better together.


To redeem means to buy back, to free from harm or distress, to renew. It has taken years, but my husband and I have found our way back to each other. Our circumstances haven’t changed, but we talk and laugh together again. We lean toward one another when the storms roll in. We dream together, walk together, and pray together. We also still misunderstand each other, miscommunicate sometimes, and feel the tug of old hurts. Sometimes, I still interrupt and “talk over” my husband. Sometimes, he still retreats, gets quiet, and checks out – but the frustrations are more moments than days. There is more laughter than impatience, more compassion than criticism, more standing together than going it alone.

We will always be imperfect people, living in an imperfect world, committed to an imperfect marriage, raising an imperfect family, surrounded by imperfect friends and loved ones. Illness will always be part of our story this side of the veil. Grief will continue to add its shadows to our story – but right here, amid all this imperfection, we are also leaning in, laughing together, and (in the wild eye of the struggle) celebrating.

Happy Bubbles
Cindee Snider Re

Cindee Snider Re

Author, Designer, and Co-Founder of Chronic Joy®

Cindee is married to the man she loves most in this world, Mom to five adult kids plus a son- and daughter-in-love, and Lolli to an adorable grandbaby. She and four of her kids have Ehlers-Danlos and myriad co-existing conditions. While a life steeped in illness is not what she would have chosen, through it, she’s learning that the deeper the valley, the greater her capacity for joy.

Cindee is the author of Discovering Hope, Finding Purpose, Embracing Worth, and I Take You in Sickness and in Health.

I TAKE YOU IN SICKNESS & IN HEALTH: Marriage with Chronic Illness

Cindee Snider Re

Rejuvenate, revitalize, rekindle, and reconnect with this insightful and enriching 10-chapter study (designed just for couples) that offers you and your spouse a safe place to grieve, heal, grow, dream together, and thrive as one – in sickness and in health.


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Lessons from Biblical Couples

Marriage is a gift, a holy weaving of two imperfect people into one through a lifetime of difficult, beautiful, exasperating, and amazing mountain-top moments of God-ordained sanctification.

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