Last week I had a tonsillectomy. It was no fun. It is still is no fun.
When someone gets sick, it forces us to look outside ourselves a little more. And when that sick someone is your spouse, it creates an opportunity for a little extra service in your marriage. Magically, this selflessness can bring you closer together than perhaps you've felt in a while.
With that being said, here are five things you will want to try the next time your spouse is feeling a bit under the weather.
1. Show a little empathy
Empathy has been defined as "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another." Your spouse needs to know that you care about them, that you hate seeing them suffer, and that you will stay by their side and take care of them every step of the way.
Your empathetic words and actions will lift your spouse, encourage a bit of hope, and help them endure through long (and sometimes very boring) days. Ask them, "How are you doing?" and then just sit and listen. Offer words of encouragement, such as, "You are so tough. I'm proud of you. You're going to get through this." Try asking if there's anything you can do that will make them more comfortable.
When your sick spouse feels like you understand their challenges, that you will take care of them, and that everything is going to be okay, the burden they feel will suddenly become much lighter. Your empathy won't magically make your spouse better, or make the pain go away, but it will change how they feel in here (I'm pointing to my heart, here). It will let your suffering spouse know they have a true companion and best friend who will be with them through any challenge that may come their way.
2. Be their greatest strength
It can be hard to stay strong (emotionally and spiritually) when you are physically sick, weak, and in pain. Although your spouse may appear to put on a strong front, inside that may not be the case.
You can be your spouse's greatest strength through this sickness. You know them better than anyone else. So, be their shoulder to cry on, their chef to fix fancy chicken noodle soup, and their lover to offer hugs, kisses, and plenty of cuddles. You are the one who can hold your spouse and tell them everything will be okay. You can offer hope and encouragement. You can be cheerful, optimistic, and strong - so they don't have to be. When you are strong for your spouse it is empowering. It can re-energize your spouse and give them strength to carry on.
3. Show a little more patience
It's true. Your spouse may be a bit grumpy. Or bored. Or tired. Or, in the case of a tonsillectomy, hangry (people, I can't eat!). Sometimes sickness breeds a bit of moodiness, and tempers may be a bit more short than usual. Give your spouse a break. They don't feel like being their normal, perky self. So, remember, supporting your spouse includes showing a little more patience than normal (or a lot more!).
Have you ever heard the saying, "patience is a virtue"? Well, it's true. Patience is a virtue. It's a virtue that can be cultivated with practice and more practice, and more practice. Don't snap at your spouse if they are grouchy. Don't complain that you are doing so much for your spouse and they aren't showing much gratitude. Just be patient, very patient, and give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Put yourself in their shoes, and be grateful that you are feeling as well as you are!
4. Do a little more
It takes a LOT of work to keep a family going - especially when there are young children involved. And unfortunately, when your spouse gets sick, the amount of work that needs to be done seems to grow exponentially. If your spouse is sick, step it up and do a little more.
Play the role of super-hero and forget about yourself for a few days. Try and serve your spouse in any way possible. Think to yourself, "What will make their life easier? What can I take off their plate? What will make them more comfortable?" Make dinner (or maybe go pick it up!), fold the laundry, put the kids to bed, run to the store and grab some medicine, write a love note, change the sheets on the bed, etc. Doing a little more will will help your spouse a lot - and it will show them how much you love them.
5. Remind them how much they mean to you
Whenever I'm sick, I quickly remember how much I need April and how much I appreciate having her by my side. It's interesting that I also feel the same way when she's the one not feeling well. It's then that I realize how much she does and what big shoes she fills. In either situation, my appreciation and love for her grows. That's the magic of service - whether we're on the giving or the receiving end.
So, if your spouse isn't feeling well, give them a little extra love and let them know how much they mean to you. Tell them you love their eyes, or that they look a little more alive than they did yesterday. Be positive, be grateful, and be happy. Hug them, hold their hand, rub their back, kiss their cheeks, and let them feel how much you love them (sick and all).
Oh, and a quick word to the sick spouse...
Sorry you are sick. That really stinks. You probably have noticed your spouse doing an inordinate amount of little things for you. Be sure to express appreciation for all they are doing.
With all that being said, sickness doesn't have to be such a negative, discouraging thing. Rather, it can be seen as an opportunity to nurture your marriage, express appreciation, and grow closer together as husband and wife. Now, go wash your hands and try not to spread any germs!
“Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.”
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