It’s been said, Cleavers, that the only thing that should take place in your bedroom is sex and sleep.
Well, recently I brought the dreaded “S” into our bedroom for a good 10 days: Sickness.
Due to physical exertion, I triggered pre-existing nerve damage causing a flair up of sciatica. Plus, since I always want to out-do myself, I also pulled a major muscle in my left side.
Fortunately, this is not our first rodeo with sickness. We have switched roles between patient and caregiver several times during the marriage journey. I can hear my husband saying “you are a walking accident waiting to happen; you know you’re too fragile to keep up with me. I am the brawn, stick to being the brain.”
There’s a little truth to all he said, whether I like it or not. Now, the doctor’s orders are 10 days of bed rest to decrease the swelling to get back to 100%.
For many of you reading, we know how we usually pick which parts of the doctor’s orders we will follow. That’s why my good caregiver is going to ensure I am obedient to 100% of the doctor’s recommendation.
The Word of God tells us:
“To do what is right is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverb 21:3
Likewise, if we don’t want to sacrifice our health, we must learn to follow ALL of the doctor’s instructions.
How’s Your Relationship Bedside Manner?
Are you able to receive instructions as the patient? Are you able to administer the instructions as a loving caregiver?
In order for the marriage to stay healthy while one spouse is ill, both the caregiver and the patient have to carry their weight.
Within your marriage, you want more good days than bad, right? Well, the bad days are promised, but the key is how will you work through the bad days together.
The Patient’s Role
As the patient, you have the privilege of receiving the desired bedside manner you need, but also the duty to receive and carry out the instructions given by your caregiving mate. Patients have to be DOERS of instruction (James 1:22). What’s the ideal way to interact with your spouse?
Even as much as your mate knows about you, s/he is not a mind reader. Be clear about your needs, limitations, and what you are expecting of them during your period of illness. It may be a new situation for them; give them time to adjust to the new arrangements with a good attitude.
Don’t be Selfish or Self-Centered.
It is not all about you! Yes, you are the patient, but you are still a part of a relationship. Don’t become so absorbed in your needs and wants during this period. Be sure to take time to encourage your mate to continue self-care so they will have the strength and stamina to take care of you.
Do What You Can for Yourself.
Allowing or requiring someone to wait on you hand and foot is tempting, but not expedient. Zero movement on your part puts increased, unnecessary responsibility on your mate. After a period of time, this could possibly turn them into a patient. And you wouldn’t want that, right? Try not to become an unnecessary burden (2 Corinthians 8:13).
The Caregiver’s Role
The caregiver is given the opportunity to be nurturing and serve their mate. Even if it’s a stretch for you to be nurturing, see this season as a growth opportunity to step up to what the new situation requires. How can a caregiver maintain a helpful attitude?
Put on the Patient’s Shoes.
“If this was me…” Well, it’s not you. Caregivers have to step out of themselves and have empathy for the patient. Treat your spouse as the individual they are, not how you would want to be treated, or how you would handle the situation.
Don’t Judge Your Spouse’s Pain.
You may have had or been through the same diagnosis, but it’s important to remember that everyone does not have the same thresholds or tolerance as another. Allow the patient spouse to establish the schedule of medications that fit their pain needs, as long as they stay within the guidelines of the doctor’s orders.
Do More Than Asked.
To eliminate feeling annoyed with a barrage of requests, think ahead of all upcoming needs and group them together. For instance, when bringing medicine, go ahead and bring water and food to coordinate three steps into one.
Be careful, patients and caregivers. Do not to get stuck in these roles! Allow yourself to recognize the transition back into the good days, and not become stuck in the behaviors and role play of sickness.
So, What’s the Play Call?
In sickness and in health, continue to show love. This is the time when your actions should speak even louder!
Recognize the limitations of your mate to reduce re-occurring damage. Be their keeper and help them not to endanger themselves.
Recognize if you need outside help. This situation may be beyond your ability to nurture them back to health alone. Seek experts to deal with mental or physical disabilities that require a lifetime of re-adjustment. Get the assistance and skills needed to cope with the change.