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When Your Wife is Ill and Romance Ain't Happening
by Lisa Copen
When your wife has a chronic illness, though you may love her no matter what, it can be hard for her to get into a romantic mood. Physical pain from the actual illness to weight gain or loss, bloating, and less-than-fun symptoms of medication can all be a deterrent to some romantic moments.
It's important to know that you are not alone. Nearly 1 in 2 people live with a chronic illness in the U.S. which means that a lot of marriages are disrupted by this uninvited third party of illness, often including mental illness as well. Sadly, seventy-five percent of them end in divorce.
Is it possible for you to make a difference and let her know you want to romance her? Of course! With a few simple ideas, you can get the spark back into your marriage.
Buy her food that she can eat without guilt--even if you have to hunt it down. Did you know chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a chemical that produces the feeling of "being in love"? Look at your pharmacy for Russell Stover's sugar free chocolate. Starbuck's just introduced a heavenly new drink, a sugar-free Cinnamon Dolce'. Now that's romantic!
Hold her hand. Yes, I know. You're hoping for more than just holding hands. But if it takes a woman without an illness awhile to get in the mood, you can imagine the affection she needs in order to forget her physical pain. Rub her back carefully, use an endearing name you haven't used in five years, and don't pressure her for more. Snuggle, cuddle, snuggle as if you will never let her go.
Talk to her about how much you admire her and how she copes with the daily-ness of living with a chronic illness. Remind her that you're never going anywhere and you feel blessed to be married to someone who shows so much strength in character when her body is weak.
Buy her something she wouldn't buy herself like a $20 bottle of lotion, a CD she's mentioned or a rocking chair for the patio. What is something that she could enjoy when she isn't feeling well? Pamper her.
Schedule a day of rest for her. Get the kids out of the house, give her a new pair of pjs, and let her know she has he day to do whatever she wants.
Hide romantic notes in places she will find them. Stick a note in the fridge that says, "I know it's hard for you to go grocery shopping. Please know how much it means to me that you keep this box stocked just for me!"
Being romantic at home isn't hard. Purchase a fondue pot and tell her that you will bring home something to dip every Wednesday night so you two can sit and have a conversation over candlelight (and cheese, chocolate, marshmallow, etc.)
Are you having troubles starting up some romantic conversations? Buy a book about conversation starters or fill a jar with topics. Do a search online for "romantic conversation starters."
Take the time to create the atmosphere. The new flameless candles that operate on a battery are great for a romantic environment. Make up a play list on your ipod that will take her back to simpler days. Bring a big bouquet of roses into the bedroom when she isn't looking.
It's no surprise that women are complicated beings and rarely can you read her mind to know exactly what she needs and when she needs it. So be sure to just ask her outright. "What is on your mind most these days? How can I help you around the house more? What can I do to communicate just how much I love you?"
The good news is that perfection is not a requirement. Just by making the effort to increase the romance in the relationship will score you some big points. And she may not let you even have a chance to finish reading that book on romancing your wife, because if she sees you reading it, your willingness to read it may be all the romance she needs. One last piece of advice, doing the dishes or the laundry really can be the best way to your wife's heart.
Get an instant download of 200 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend from "Beyond Casseroles" by Lisa Copen when you subscribe to HopeNotes invisible illness ezine at Rest Ministries. Lisa is the coordinator of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and founder of Rest Ministries, Inc.