Q&A: Keeping cancer from harming our marriage

Q: We just learned my spouse has cancer, and we’re shocked. We have the best possible medical care, but there’s one area where doctors can’t help us: what can we do to keep the disease from harming our marriage?

A: Your world’s been turned on its head overnight, and our heart truly goes out to you. We know your deepest need is beyond any human act or offering.

As you’ve wisely anticipated, medical crises can present a challenge to any marriage. We’d encourage you to prepare yourselves for potential threats by keeping the following thoughts in mind.

  1. Adjust your expectations. Life is changed for the moment. How you respond as a couple will depend upon your willingness to set aside your earlier hopes and dreams and roll with the punches of your present circumstances.
  2. Become adaptable. A medical crisis requires compromise and sacrifice for the sake of the patient and other family members. You may have to learn different medical skills, exchange previous roles and responsibilities, and find new ways of enjoying life together.
  3. Count your blessings. Make a determined effort to look for and find things for which you’re grateful. While admittedly tougher to do in the midst of deep water, you both will reap the emotional, physical and spiritual benefits that result from an attitude of gratitude.
  4. Nurture your faith. Perhaps the biggest challenge you’ll face is making sense of and finding meaning in all this. Feelings of doubt are normal during crisis, so don’t sweep them under the rug or feel guilty for having them.
  5. Ask for help. Practical assistance, prayer, medical or legal advice, or a meal shared with a listening ear are things you may need at different times. Don’t be shy about making your needs known. Friends will want to support you, and the experience will be as good for them as it will be encouraging to you.    

Finally, don’t hesitate to give our Family Support Services a call at 03-7954 7920 or write to support@family.org.my.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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