How Eczema Hurts Marriages

couple-breaks-up1

I was eating dinner the other day, picking at my bland millet and disgusting chicken breast (getting acclimated to eating meat regularly is the hardest part of the Candida Diet for me, I was used to getting my protein from plant sources) when in comes my husband.  My beautiful husband, with his smooth skin and athletic good looks, like the kind of guy you see on the Abercrombie shopping bags.  We’re an ill-matched looking pair right now; let me tell you – Mr. Handsome and Ms. Rashy Little Red Lobster.

Fixing me with a serious look, I could tell immediately that something was on his mind.  After almost 10 years of being together, I know his ways so well that I could tell this exact look meant he was about to say something very serious, yet something that I wouldn’t want to hear.

He opens, “I’ve been having some stupid thoughts lately…”  What are they, I probe.  “I don’t know”, he says, which is My-Husband-Speak for saying that he knows all too well but doesn’t want to come right out and say them.  My mind immediately, yet surprisingly calmly jumps to the worst-case scenario.  He’s leaving me!  He found another woman…one who’s beautiful all the time and not afflicted with eczema.

Through careful conversation and encouraging him that I want to hear what’s on his mind, no matter how bad or hurtful it might be, the truth comes out:

The winter is getting him down.  It’s very depressing.  I talk about moving south to a warmer climate all the time and he doesn’t want to hold me back.  Maybe I should just do that if I want to, without him.  Our routine has become stale.  Get up, go to work, come home, and spend the weekends just getting by from surviving the hectic work-week.  Every day is the same.  We need a radical change.  The most radical change he can think of is separation.  That’s right, going our separate ways.  Not that he wants to do that, but he thinks about it sometimes.  We have all these separate neuroses and we’re so closely linked that they are rubbing off on each other.  If we parted, he would always love me and be my best friend, and we could talk whenever we wanted, but life is a funny thing.  It’s not like he’s found another woman, but maybe we’re ill-suited together.  Please don’t hate me for saying these things, he says.

By this time I have grabbed the nearest Kleenex and filled a good half-dozen of them with anguished tears and sniffles.  In a twisted way, it feels good to cry and be sad.  I’ve felt numb for so long that I actually welcome these despondent emotions.  But even though I kind of suspected he was going to say something like this, hearing it in the open still hurts terribly.  I understand, I say.  I know you had to be thinking these things.  You’ve become secretive when you’re on the phone and I KNOW you’re talking to your [male] friend about us and our relationship or maybe lack thereof.  I can’t stand that you’re married to someone with a seemingly uncontrollable disease that’s taken over her whole life and stealing all her confidence.  I hate that we haven’t had any intimate contact in months because of my very un-sexy eczema having me in a constant funk.  You’re too good to let my chronic condition drag you down.  I hate that you might want to split, because I love you more than anything in the world – I would give everything for you and die for you in an instant – but if you feel you have to go, I understand.

We sit there for a while, tears falling silently (by this time even he is getting misty-eyed), as I let that sink in and ponder the magnitude of what’s just been said.  “Wait a minute honey.  Where would we go – live back with our parents??” I ask.  We start chuckling through tears a bit, realizing just how ludicrous it would be to split up.  As we talked more later that night and again the next day, I grasped further the concept that we truly are so tied together that we experience almost everything jointly, the good and the bad.  They really did mean “in sickness and in health” when we recited our marriage vows; not just staying together with the person during those times, but deeply feeling their own pain, ambivalence, or joy.  When he had his own demons with devastating anxiety, sleepless nights, and panic attacks, I stood by, feeling helpless and depressed myself.  Now that I’m battling the demon of eczema with no seeming light at the end of the tunnel, he’s feeling the same way.

Are my husband and I really going to split up –I pray that we never would.  The conversation between us wasn’t meant to be a reality, but to bring these issues out in the open with the hopes that hearing and acknowledging them will help us on our path to healing.  I’m a strong enough person independently that it wouldn’t frighten me to be without a partner, but I don’t want to have to face the world with just myself and my own introverted, eczema-riddled neuroses.

I can’t help but think that we would never have had this conversation without my eczema, though.  I’ve tried not to buy into its selfish ways, like a needy child demanding “Look at me!  Itch me!  Pay attention to me!”  I’m not writing this post for sympathy, or relationship advice, or even attention.   This post isn’t even unique to eczema – it could be written from the perspective of someone with ANY chronic illness or condition – lupus, depression, cancer, fibromyalgia, etc.  I just wanted to get it out there that eczema and other chronic conditions can not only hurt your body, your psyche, your confidence, but the relationships with the very people that you need by your side to help you get through them.

 

 

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15 thoughts on “How Eczema Hurts Marriages

  1. Amanda says:

    I’m glad you wrote this and I know you don’t want advice or sympathy. I just want to say that I think it’s really good that he put those thoughts and feelings out there. A lot of people just it fester and it turns into something it didn’t need to. I think everyone has these feelings from time to time, in a relationship, and as long as you can work through them, you’ll be in a better place.

  2. Thank you! I wrote this post last week and wavered over posting it or not, but I’m glad you liked it and understood where I was coming from. I feel much better about putting it out there instead of internalizing things.

  3. Girl…. this post really inspires me to open up more about the emotional toll this sort of thing takes on people… Hang in there. Just know that you have us as a support group 🙂 I’m glad that you two are able to have conversations like this without it turning into a huge, gigantic fight with yelling and screaming… This just goes to show how much you care about each other.

  4. Thanks girl! I appreciate the support! You make a good point that we can be rational and calm and reasonable even when we have this emotionally hurtful situation – hopefully we can get through it and emerge stronger!

  5. Courtney says:

    Wow, very honest and brave post. Like the Allergista said, it makes me more willing to talk about this stuff too because LORD KNOWS I have been where you are. Eczema/allergies can totally kill spontaneity and intimacy, it’s something Isaac and I really struggle with. I feel so bad constantly saying things like “oh you can’t kiss my neck I have steroids on” or stopping him before he goes in for a kiss to ask “what did you eat today, any allergens?” It’s so hard. So, so hard. I know how you feel, and I’m thinking about you guys. Hang in there. No matter WHAT issues you deal with, any guy is lucky to be with you.

  6. […] wrote about this in a previous post – the current strain on my relationship with my husband.   So even though we’ve […]

  7. 20112010mo says:

    i totally understand what you go through. i have suffered with eczema my whole life and three years ago up until 3-4 months ago it was so severe i wouldnt leave my house for weeks at a time. it has rrally affected my relationship and the intimacy between me and my partner. she would oftenfeel hurt because i wouldnt want to be touched. i am now in control of my problem and have created a website with all kinds of information on preventing a flare-up and products that are good/bad. you may find it useful at http://www.eczemastruggle.co.uk we can beat this one day at a time

    • Hey there, thanks for visiting my blog! I just checked out yours and I like it as well! This post that you commented on is about a year old, so with the more recent posts, I discovered my ever-worsening eczema was due to topical steroids. Now I have been off topical steroids for a year and my skin is essentially totally healed!! My marriage didn’t last, unfortunately, but I know that eczema won’t be a factor in my next relationship. I appreciate that you shared your own experiences and that your blog is a resource for others! cheers!

  8. saba says:

    so sorry to hear about your marriage. i am pretty much in the same position as you were. i have an insanely good looking husband (not bragging, just explaining the similarity). i have the most stubborn type of eczema (known as ‘prurigo nodularis’), and have had it for years. initially he was supportive, but now he seems to be upset and angry all the time. (not that i blame him).
    i guess this disease takes away alot. it breaks us….our spirit and our relationships.
    how did you wean yourself from steroids? it seems almost impossible for me to do that.

    • Hi Saba, thanks so much for stopping by and it’s especially nice to hear from someone that understands. Sorry to hear you are going through a similar thing, eczema or any chronic disease really has an impact on relationships. I didn’t wean myself from steroids honestly, I just stopped using them one day. I didn’t know how bad things would get, but I knew that I couldn’t keep using them because things would just get worse. Yes I suffered for a few months but now my skin is basically normal and I’m glad that I went through it. You are stronger than you think… if you are thinking about quitting steroids, I recommend it! It will be hard but eventually it will be worth it.

  9. mkm613 says:

    Hello, I know that this is a post from a long time ago..
    But this is happening to me, right now, as I type this. Except you left out the part about my husband finding a girl to replace me during my TSW (8months in now). He denied everything and told me a bunch of lies, and his story keeps changing..
    Now he has decided that I am the crazy one in the relationship, running around and showing everyone my angry texts, pointing the finger at me, basically saying “who could live with someone like you?”

    I stood by him and helped him build his business from scratch. I chose to be with him even though I knew he was financially unstable compared to the other guys. I believed all his lies because I thought he loved me.

    I just want to know – how can people do this to other people..?
    I’d love to know how you are doing post TSW and your dating life too.. After TSW taking away any kind of self-esteem I had, him cheating on me has seemed to kill any future possibilities of it growing back. Can’t imagine anyone loving me again..

    • Hi mkm613 …. I’m so glad you found my blog and reached out to me. There is a special sense of empathy among people like us that have been through this type of thing. Obviously I don’t know you but I DO know that you don’t deserve to be turned on in the manner that has happened to you. There really isn’t a good answer as to how someone can do this to another person that supported them, stood by them, and loved them unconditionally. However, the question must be now – not, “why did this happen”, but “how are you going to use this life event to come out stronger and more resilient”. I promise you that things get better and you are deserving of love again. I would definitely like to communicate with you further over email and give you a few resources if you’d like to email me: nubtorious (at) yahoo.com.

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