Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shifting Responsibilities

We live by faith, not by sight--2 Corinthians 5:7.
Love...always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres--1 Corinthians 13:7

One of the toughest aspects of a couple dealing with the chronic illness of one spouse is the changes required in the relationship due to the demands and deficits of the illness. Illnesses do not ask our permission to rattle relationships and shift responsibilities between partners.

Every marriage involves a division of labor, so to speak. This should be based not on preset gender stereotypes, but on skills, desires, and opportunities. This is how good friendships work. But chronic illness scuttles all that, with pieces flying everywhere.

"The strong one" has to take on more; the "sick one" has to give things up and feels terrible doing so. Business as usual becomes a negotiable, ever-shifting puzzle. Grace, forgiveness, and trust are needed. Reliance on God is not optional, but mandatory. Both partners must trust beyond sight, absorb disappointments and frustrations, apologize when needed (as soon as possible), and endeavor to have hope through it all.


  1. Dr. Groothuis, I am just now beginning to journal about a chronic illness diagnosed about a year ago. Encouraging as this post was, may I have your permission to re-post (with credit, of course?)

  2. Dear Laura:

    I am very sorry about your situation. May you find strength and hope in God. Yes, you may repost this, if you think if would be helpful. Best, Doug

  3. Dr. Groothuis,
    Many Thanks for your permission- thank you for your attention to this oft-ignored topic. It's rare to find anything written from a Biblical standpoint.

    Best to you,