When we get married, we vow to stay with our partner until death do us part. We may agree to this at the altar, but later on in the marriage, when our partner does become seriously ill, we may have doubts. Some couples are able to successfully navigate through serious illnesses while others become dissatisfied with their marriage and even divorce. Why are there such big differences?
There are a few reasons why. Whether or not a relationship will survive depends on several things, including the couple’s emotional well-being, survival concerns, and coping style. That’s why seemingly happy couples cannot keep their marriage alive when one partner is suffering from a serious illness.
A study shed light on these issues. There were 92 women in the study, all with a diagnosis of cancer (primarily breast cancer). All had been with their partners for two years or longer. The study assessed the coping style of the diagnosed partner as well as the couple in relation to how the diagnosed partner felt about their emotional well-being and satisfaction with the relationship.
The ill partners experienced a higher level of emotional well-being when they were positive about their situation. Maintaining a positive outlook and using problem-solving skills led to better outcomes than avoidance, denial, and hopelessness.
The coping style of the couple was just as important. When the partners of patients were emotionally supportive, the couples experienced greater relationship satisfaction than those who were not as supportive. What this means is that a more positive individual outlook results in a better response from the partner. When the diagnosed individual had a negative coping style, the couple’s coping style was also negative.
The results of this study can be applied to all sorts of adverse life events. They may serve to guide therapists as they interact with couples and help them develop positive coping skills. Both the life of the patient and the future of the marriage are at stake, so knowing how to cope and interact is of utmost importance.
Couples should know that when one partner is facing a major illness, changes will need to be made. They should decide together on how to renegotiate roles, responsibilities, plans, physical needs, emotional needs, and intimacy. It can be overwhelming, though, so it’s important for both parties to stay connected to each other for support. Focusing on your relationship can provide enjoyment and pleasure and be a welcome distraction from dealing with the illness.
Not all couples follow their wedding vows. When one partner has a serious illness, it can wreak havoc on a marriage, as not everyone is fit to be a caretaker.
As sad as it sounds, an illness can easily lead to divorce. A Columbia divorce lawyer from The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. can help you navigate through the process. Call (410) 774-5987 or fill out the online form to schedule a free consultation.
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