So, you have an ill wife who is never in the mood, who says “ouch” when you give her a hug. But she wants to know you care. Now what?
When your wife is chronically ill it can be hard for her to think “romance.” She may be in a great deal of physical pain or also suffer from side effects of the illness or medications, such as weight gain or loss, a “puffy prednisone,” or even feeling sick to her stomach. She may also be dealing with the loss of her career and dealing with grief.
Be assured that you are not alone. Nearly 1 in 2 people in the USA live with a chronic illness and so many marriages are impacted. Unfortunately, nearly seventy-five percent of them end in divorce when an illness is that “third party” in the marriage.
So, how can you encourage her and maybe even get some of that romance back into your marriage? Here are some ideas to add some romance into your marriage.
- Women with a chronic illness are the same as most women. They want their man to hold their hand. Give affection generously, but also carefully to not cause more pain. Rub her back, call her a pet name you haven’t used in five years, and don’t pressure her for more. Cuddle, snuggle, and cuddle some more like you will never let her go.
- Chocolate. Yes, it really can be that simple. But buy her some sugar-free chocolate that she can splurge on without the guilt. It’s amazing how good it tastes! Chocolate has a chemical called phenyl ethylamine that actually produces the feeling of “being in love.” Check out your local Wal-Mart or Target for their Russell Stover‘s chocolates that come in bags. Coconut, caramels, and pecans. . . hmmmm. . . you get the idea.
- Text her a few times a week. It can be romantic, but also tell her you are praying for her or thinking of her. Also text when you know she is waiting to see the doctor or juggling a playdate.
- Tell her all the things you love about her: an ill wife wants to hear how strong she is, how much you admire her strength in coping with illness, how you’re sticking around no matter what. Who needs romantic poetry? Speak from the heart!
- Pamper her by purchasing her something that she wouldn’t splurge on for herself. Let her know you are listening to her by purchasing a CD that she says has one of her favorite news songs on it. Buy her a down comforter for a cozier bed. Brainstorm about item that she could enjoy when she isn’t feeling well.
- Schedule a day of rest for her and let her know she has the day to do whatever she wants. No guilt.
- 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!”
- If she is in a lot of pain, get the kids out of the house, give her a new pair of PJs and a chick flick. Make a quick trip to the grocery store and pamper your ill wife with a few flowers, a magazine, and a snack for her.
- Get romantic at home. Candles, a simple meal, and holding her hand is all she really needs. Oh, and don’t forget to do the dishes too.
- Don’t forget to just hang out and talk about your dreams–not just the bills or the kids. Buy an electric fondue pot and pledge to dip something in candlelight one evening a week and just talk.
- Help the kids make a big deal out of Mother’s Day (plan in advance); same goes for your anniversary and her birthday. She fights hard to have a life and pass on traditions and happy times to her family, so let her know in a demonstrative way that you appreciate her just as much.
- When she is recovering from a treatment and says, “I am sorry the dishes are stacking up. I just have no energy,” don’t way, “Oh, don’t worry about it. They will still be there tomorrow.”
- 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.”
- Tell her, “I would like to read a book that is important to you and then maybe we can talk about it. What would you recommend?” (Then read it!)
- Say nice things about her online, for example, when she posts on Facebook that she is making dinner, compliment her cooking. Women love it when men aren’t embarrassed to be romantic in public.
- Don’t forget to make a few changes in the bedroom to spark some romance. As silly as it sounds, candles, roses, and a great play list on your ipod tells her that you cared enough to set the mood for her.
- Pursue her in little ways all the time. Hold her hand, not because she needs you to keep her balance, but because it’s romantic. Sneak up behind her and kiss her neck. Notice when she gets a new haircut or throws on something uncomfortable because she wants to look nice for you.
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?”
You don’t have to be perfect. By making an effort to create some romance in the relationship, it will bring some romance to your marriage! If she sees you reading a book on marriage or romancing your wife, she may just toss the book aside and grab you. Whoever said the most romantic thing a man can do are the dishes understood women perfectly.
Check out our other articles on LOVE AND MARRIAGE WHEN YOU ARE ILL at our pin board.
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and is far from perfect in the romance area–but trying. She is the author of about 10 books on chronic illness that you can find here and she is currently working on a book for moms who are chronically ill.