chronic illness and marriage


It can also be an opportunity to learn patience, forgiveness, tenderness, humility, and sacrifice –
gifts of a love forged by fire, a love to celebrate and savor.

Marriage and Chronic Illness

About Marriage and Chronic Illness

When one spouse has chronic illness, 75% of marriages end in divorce.

Chronic illness is defined by conditions that last at least one year, require ongoing medical attention, and limit daily activities.

Chronic illness within marriage is hard on both spouses. As a caregiver, one spouse feels the weight of being leaned upon by the sick spouse. The spouse living with illness often feels guilt and shame about being dependent on his/her spouse and financial issues arising from medical costs.

Both spouses often feel isolated, alone, and forgotten about which increases the likelihood of anxiety and/or depression arising in both spouses.



Marriage is challenging at the best of times; adding chronic illness, mental illness, or chronic pain brings a whole new level of complication to consider and work through. There are no easy answers. Chronic illness affects each person differently and will in turn affect each marriage in unique ways. Our prayer is that here you will find encouragement for both you and your spouse. There is hope for a strong and united marriage as you seek a ‘three-strand’ relationship: you, your spouse, and God.

We have much for you to explore, read, talk about, and share. Browse through our printables, book lists, devotionals, and posts. Do it together as you face this challenging journey when the unwanted third wheel is illness and pain.




Do you have a wedding album? I was looking through ours the other day – the beautiful pictures, the joy on our faces (our younger faces). We included our vows in our album and I’m so glad we did. I love what they say. One line stands out and makes me smile, “Loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know – through the present circumstances and the uncertainties of the future …”

“Trusting what I do not yet know” … “the uncertainties of the future …”

All marriages face uncertainties. Many things can throw a wrench into our plans for our marriage – chronic illness is a challenging one. The statistics say that in marriages where one spouse has a chronic illness, three out of four unions will fall apart.

Our wedding vows went on to say: “… with the help of God, I choose to encourage and uphold you, to pray with you and point you to God, serve, forgive, and listen to you … and above all, love you, as we grow together in Christ.”

“ … WITH the help of God ….”

We can’t take God out of the equation. Who better than our Maker to walk us through our weaknesses – which are often made more evident because of illness? When we are weak, then He is strong.


My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.
(2 Corinthians 12:9a)

What a gift that we get to help one another grow into more of who God wants us to be! As Timothy Keller says, “Love is the effort and desire to make someone else everything they were created to be.”

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