How My Marriage Survived Fibromyalgia


How My marriage survived fibromyalgia marriage survived fibromyalgia How My Marriage Survived Fibromyalgia mccullough wedding photoMy Marriage Survived Fibromyalgia

“In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in good times and in bad…”  The reason those phrases are part of the marriage vows is because those are some of the top reasons people break up.  So when people are experiencing sickness, lack of money, and are in bad times, how do they stay together?  How did my husband, Carl, and I stay together and still get along during the years of me being ill

If you are not aware of my story, I’ll tell it here briefly.  I started to feel the effects of fibromyalgia in my early twenties.  A year before I met my husband, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which was over seven years after I started experiencing symptoms.  At that time I was able to work and carry on a fairly normal life, but I was in quite a bit of pain and sometimes the fatigue was overwhelming.

My husband and I had been engaged to be married for only a week when I was injured in an accident at work.  That was the start of me becoming disabled from working.  That was about fifteen years ago now and I have not worked at a “nine-to-five” job since.  For the first eight years it was because of necessity, fortunately now, it is by choice.

At the time, even before we were married, I actually had to resign from my job.  It was one of the worst days of my life.  I felt defeated.  Some “well-meaning” relatives, in an attempt to buck me up, I supposed, said hurtful things to me like, “Carl doesn’t want to marry a sick woman.”  How did they presume to know what Carl did or did not want?  Fortunately, Carl wanted me and the feeling was sincerely ret

I know that being ill breaks up marriages and relationships.  When I was sick I pretty much lost all my friends and it strained my relationships with my family.  Really the only person I had in the whole world was my husband.

I felt like a modern-day Job, from the Old Testament of The Bible.  In that story he lost everything, his children, money, health and all of his possessions.  The only things he had left were his wife, a few judgmental friends, and his faith.  Some theologians suggest that the reason he still had his wife was because she was there as a mirror to reflect and magnify his suffering.  I can identify with this because when I imagined myself through my husband’s eyes, it made me feel even more depressed.

I give my husband all due credit for keeping our marriage intact through the years of my illness.  He is a person of high integrity and very little ego.  He is a mellow sort who takes life as it comes, but even he would get frustrated at times and feel helpless.  He really is very agreeable and the nicest person I have ever had the pleasure to know.  He is consistent and nurturing.  Getting to know one human being on such a deep level has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life.

1. We are nice to each other – We really try to be as considerate as possible to the other.  We still say “please” and “thank you.”  We always kiss each other hello, goodbye and goodnight.  We say “I love you” every day.  This may not seem like an astounding secret, but I have seen many couples lose their spark due to this.

2. We are Cooperative – My husband and I strive to be cooperative with each other.  If one wants something done a particular way, the other tries to respect that.  We also support each other’s goals.  You will NEVER hear me say anything negative about my husband to anyone.  Period.  It is not a topic of discussion.  If I have an issue with him, I speak only to him about it and no one else.  I also strive to tell him as soon as possible, before it escalates into a big deal.  However, I will sing my husband’s praises to anyone who will listen.  In this way I minimize the negatives and maximize the positives of our relationship.

3. We take time for Intimacy –  is more than sex and it is an important part of a marriage.  When a person is sick, sex may not only seem like a hassle, but painful as well.  People may start to resent their partner.  This is poison for a marriage!  First, find a way to forgive yourself, then find a way to forgive your partner.  Make time for yourself and for each other.

If it has been a while since you have been intimate, take it slowly.  Start with holding hands or gentle hugs.  When there are times when you feel less bad than others, this is the time to try to initiate or accept intimacy.  Let your partner know that you want to have an intimate relationship with him/her, but you don’t know what you can and can’t do.  Let the partner know you will just have to go by how you feel.

There may be times when a person is in so much pain they can’t even hold hands.  Try to have a conversation by candle light together.  Do things to connect with each other.  Intimacy doesn’t have to include sex, just take the time to make the connection with your partner.

4. We respect our Commitment – For people who are married or in a long-term committed relationship, it is important to realize that illness not only affects you, it affects everyone who lives with you.  That thought may make you feel worse at first, but remember, you hitched your star to your partner’s wagon too.  You are in this together, come what may.  So when you share your burdens they become lighter.  When you share your happiness it becomes magnified.  Celebrate the smallest victories!

5. We love each other deeply –  I take that as a given if you are married.  Life can be so hard sometimes that the only thing left to cling to is the love.  Always, always, always turn to each other; there is strength in two together that is not present in two separately.

So there you have it:  our marriage survived fibromyalgia, because we were nice to each other, we cooperated, we kept intimacy at the forefront, and we stuck to our commitment to each other.  And all along the way we have truly loved and still truly love and appreciate each other.  When I recovered from fibromyalgia we had a great foundation to build the good times to come.  We know we can depend on each other forever, and that is a prize worth pursuing.

In the month of February we celebrate love, and it is my sincerest hope for you to have all the love you want in life!

Yours in joy and health,




  1. Well said Leah! What an awesome gift for you, your husband, your son, and future generations!!!

  2. Thank you for this beautiful blog. It is timeless and well written. Kudos to you both for your dedication to kindness and your love of your commitment to one another.

  3. Susan Sole says

    What a beautiful story of unconditional love. Although I am 68 my husband 74 we have survived 24 years of fibromyalgia. With severe vertigo my husband had to be my cater. I can see a huge light at the end of the tunnel. I am following Leah’s protocol and I am excited. Unbelievable I never came across her site before. Now my husband and I can go for a coffee, small but like gold to me – also walk along the Bay with our two Mini Schnauzers. Love can survive Fibromyalgia, however you have to understand and appreciate how hard it is for your partner. Love to all. Susie

  4. Leah, I noticed you said When I recovered, did you recover?

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