Difficulties in marriage are opportunities to grow.

It’s just like the Lord to take something difficult and turn it into an opportunity to grow closer in your relationship as man and wife. (Carey Dyer)




It took time for Carey to understand I wasn’t making up the fatigue I felt when we were first married. His family grew up healthy as pack mules (They went to the pharmacist instead of the doctor on the rare occasion one of them felt sick.), while my bout with severe mononucleosis during our engagement began a downhill slide with my health. It left me tired all the time and seeking medical help from multiple doctors and specialists. I’ve simply never felt the same as I did before that lengthy illness.

I’ve sometimes cried hot tears of frustration because I am not as energetic as I’d like. “I wish I were stronger,” I have said to Carey more than once when my body betrayed me – again. He’s sweet and understanding, but I know it can be hard for him. I’ve also been mad at God more than once for not snapping His fingers and healing me in one fell swoop, as I know He could. The problems I have been saddled with have no immediate cure, at least not yet.

However, I’m thankful for His strength in my weakness. I’m also grateful for good food, the right medicine, caring doctors, and exercise (all of which have helped me immensely). It is also a huge gift that Carey has learned to listen to, support, and help me in practical ways.



I can’t relate firsthand to what it’s been like for Dena to experience her debilitating symptoms, but I have learned what to do and (maybe more importantly) what not to do as the spouse of someone who is suffering. If you have a sick spouse (especially when their illness is prolonged), perhaps what I’ve learned will encourage you. Maybe your marriage will be strengthened.

1. Don’t be dismissive.

I usually have fuel to spare, and Dena has spent much of our time together trying to keep up. Early in our marriage, I thought Dena should be able to shake it off when she felt ill as if her symptoms were something she could turn off and on at will. I was unknowingly making her feel “less than,” like she didn’t have what it took to make me happy. I learned that slowing down and trying to be a more understanding husband was good for what ailed her.

2. Do be sensitive.

This probably goes without saying. However, looking back on times when Dena dealt with her illness for months and even years on end, I would sometimes (Dare I say it?) get used to it. I would forget that she was physically and emotionally dealing with pain or fatigue day in and day out. In my busyness, days would sometimes go by before I acknowledged what she was going through. In my more sensitive moments, an extended hug, a knowing glance, or a quick text let her know I cared and wanted to go through this with her.

3. Don’t forget the simple things.

Never underestimate the power of a cup of fresh-brewed coffee waiting for her when she wakes or getting up 15 minutes earlier so she doesn’t have a pile of dishes greeting her first thing in the morning. I discovered things I could do to bear Dena’s burden (whether great or small), which went a long way in keeping her on the path to wellness.

4. Do pray.

It’s just like the Lord to take something difficult and turn it into an opportunity to grow closer in your relationship as man and wife. We have never had a quiet, candle-lit house full of Billy Graham-style, inspired intercession – but there have been moments I’ve sidled up to Dena, kissed her on the cheek, and began praying for her unannounced. Other times, while tucking the boys in for the night, I asked, “How about we pray for Mommy?”

5. Depend on God.

Finally, know that God never leaves us for a second. While He may (or may not) heal our loved one here on earth, He IS always working to transform us into His image. In the valleys, be deliberate about fixing your eyes on Jesus and leaving room for supernatural intervention. God is always with us in our marriage, in sickness and in health.

Click here to read Part One.

Excerpt from Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples. Published with permission.

Happy Bubbles
Carey and Dena Dyer

Carey and Dena Dyer


Carey is a husband, father, worship minister, comedian, and musician who lives near Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife, author/speaker Dena Dyer, and their two sons. When he’s not acting silly, he’s probably watching “Andy Griffith Show” reruns while drinking a Mountain Dew.

Dena is a wife to Carey, a mom to two boys (her two favorite roles), and an award-winning author, musician, and speaker. She loves encouraging readers and audiences to laugh at themselves and lean hard into Jesus during tough times. She enjoys cooking, watching British television, and reading in her free time.

Build a Healthier Marriage

As spouses, how can we pray for one another? Where can we intentionally invest in one another? How can we creatively carve out a little one-on-one time? What could we do together to help us bond and share a little more of our lives with one another?

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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