Help in the house
I was struck by Eric and Kim's blog in December about the course of her RA and the level of involvement that Eric has as the well partner. He is a strong advocate for her best care, and a real believer that things can improve if they take the right steps. That makes all of the difference in the world.
There are other online friends I have made over the years and through looking back to our conversations day by day I have an appreciation of how much their husbands do as well. It really does take a toll on the spouses and it affects so many areas of your relationship even while it is done with love.
Honestly some days I feel like the queen in the parlor, eating my bread and honey while my husband does all of the work. It's not so much what you can do that bothers you - it's what you feel that you should do.
Eating her bread and honey
And then there are the drawbacks of relinquishing our independence when we must. In my friend June's words "The way that my John acts, he enables me and causes me to feel like I can't or shouldn't do anything. I tell him he is making an invalid out of me, even though I do need and appreciate his help. He does smother me sometimes with his good intentions. I have told him that he needs to let me do what I can do."
"One of my friends commented on how he took such good care of me and was so protective. I am one lucky woman!" (And many of us are happy to agree)
It's great when things work out like that. Some couples make it look so easy.
We go together likeI asked June if John wanted to comment and here's what she said: "We were eating dinner last night and I asked John if he would write something for your Blog about being a Spouse of a wife with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
He asked me "How do you spell - Living in Pure Hell" - Then he started laughing. He said it really wasn't so bad. I said "what about all the doctor's visits, hospital stays, helping me with splints, bandages, housework and pushing me around in a wheelchair sometimes". He said he liked to read so it wasn't so bad waiting and he really liked to push the wheelchair."
No, not really.
"This paper about women with RA and their healthy spouses sums up worries of the spouse. "Husbands were most affected by their own perceived vulnerability to disease and coping inefficacy." So in addition to all they do, there is the worry about being able to continue to do it.
And here is a paper about social supports and how they help both spouses in chronic illness: "The effects of chronic illness on the spouse. Social resources as stress buffers".