When Your Spouse Doesn't Believe You are Ill


The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with her, despite her complaints about pain and extreme fatigue. He left the room and her husband came back a few minutes later.

“Hi, Honey,” she replied to her spouse, as she carefully reached out for his hand. But he didn’t reach out to take her outstretched hand; he just let it sit there empty on the scratchy hospital blanket. He looked at her with tired eyes, full of frustration.

“The doctor said that there is nothing wrong,” he said. “I think maybe you’ve just been making all of this up the last year.”

She was heartbroken and pulled her hand back. He was her lifeline, the one thing that was getting her through all of this. He was the only person who she trusted would always believe her, understand and offer love and sympathy. And now he thought she’d been deceptive, lying about her pain.

Unfortunately, this scenario is a true story… and all too familiar for many couples. Illness can have a devastating effect on relationships, especially when it is invisible, difficult to diagnose, and hard to even understand. So what’s the answer if your spouse doubts that you have an illness? While there are no easy answers or tips that will guarantee results, here are a few ideas to make the journey easier.

  1. Pray. Rather than praying as a last resort, start praying first. Ask God to give your spouse wisdom and discernment, especially regarding your illness. Pray that God will send people into your spouse’s life that can be a godly influence, such as other spouses of people with illness. Pray for a diagnosis so that you can have the benefit of the medical world on your side.
  2. Allow your spouse some time to see that the illness is real. Don’t expect him/her to be convinced by what you say. Let him/her see how you are over a period of time.
  3. Surround yourself with supportive people who do understand that you have an illness and it’s implications. Join a support group or a womens bible study. Ask for prayer for your marriage. Let others encourage you and stand by you when you need the emotional support. See a pastor if you need to talk to someone about your marriage and the effect his or her doubts are having on the relationship.
  4. Refrain from trying to do more than you should physically. Every time you do too much you are sending signals that you are able to do more, even though only you will know how much you will pay for it later in pain.
  5. Do the research on your illness or symptoms and continue to fight for a diagnosis. If you already know what your illness is, get as much information on it as possible and keep well-informed.
  6. Invite your spouse to accompany you to a support group meeting, a workshop or conference on your illness. Explain to him that you just want to find out more information about this illness, and that he might find it interesting.

Reprinted from …And He Will Give You Rest, Volume II, Issue 9. © *Now called HopeKeepers


  1. says

    Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain is Definitely a Invisible Illness

    A blogger on your site commented that people will notice a cast on a broken leg, but do not see his TMJ disorder. This blogger probably feels misunderstood and rightly so. Others are unaware of his disorder because it's invisible.

    Many of my patients have the same experience. They come to me hoping to resolve a lifetime of chronic muscle and joint pain. Because my patients' appearance looks 'normal' and medical tests results frequently come back normal, their family and friends do not appreciate the depth of their suffering and disability and may easily think 'it's all in their head'.

    However, it is not all in their head. We are currently in the midst of a pandemic of chronic muscle and joint pain. More people in the United States are suffering from chronic pain than all those with diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined; truly a staggering number. We need a solution to end this suffering; a solution that does not entail invasive surgery or dangerous drugs.

    September is National Pain Awareness Month. In order to spread the word that a solution exists to eliminate chronic musculoskeletal pain without drugs or surgery, 500 copies of my e-book, Forever Free From Chronic Pain, are being given away by the group, Citizens for a World Free from Chronic Pain (CWFCP), absolutely for free.

    For more information, go to Facebook at:

    With regards,
    Prof/Dr Brian A Rothbart
    Author, Forever Free From Chronic Pain

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