Could Divorce Be One More Pain from Rheumatoid Disease?

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clown-fishI’ve received several emails and messages from people living with Rheumatoid Disease (PRD) who have been divorced by a spouse, sometimes in part due to ways Rheumatoid Arthritis / Disease affects them. It’s sad to hear from a woman who can’t figure out how she’ll provide for her kids, or a mother whose kids were removed by a husband fed up with a wife who can’t “work.” It’s equally sad to hear from a man abandoned when he can no longer accomplish what he did in the past.

One PRD asks: Is divorce one more loss from RA?

I cannot write this in a public forum. You’ll understand in a minute.

I was diagnosed with RA about four years ago, at 54. It progressed rapidly. I had all the difficulties we share. You know how it changes your life. Difficulty walking, keeping up with chores, dressing, washing hair, taking care of the house and garden, the cats, etc. The drugs made me tired and I was fatigued. However, all this time I worked full time at a stressful job and put in more than a normal day’s work. Fortunately, I regained more mobility recently after my rheumatologist added new drugs to my cocktail. I do not have to use a cane anymore.

Mid-January last year, my husband of thirteen years said, “I can not live like this any more.” Five weeks later he said, “I have an apartment, I am moving.” I haven’t seen him since March. It took me totally by surprise. I had no idea. I had been thinking about renewing our marriage vows and then this happened. I love him very much.

He would not tell me what happened or if I had done something wrong. He refused counseling and he refused to talk about what bothered him. He basically left in silence. I only hear from him via email.

I have examined every corner of my life and the only thing that has changed in me is the RA; it made me more dependent. I am careful not to assume that the RA had anything to do with his departure, but if it did I see it as another horrible outcome of this disease. I have read that this is not an infrequent occurrence; men leaving wives who are ill. My G.P. acknowledges this.

This is what I wanted to tell you; about another kind of loss one can experience with a disease like RA.

Perhaps husbands, wives, or partners need counseling to understand and cope.

Does Rheumatoid Disease impact divorce?

The large Strand study on women with Rheumatoid Disease found “22% of divorced or separated respondents indicated that RA had at least some role in their decision.” So it makes sense that patients have brought it up many times. A couple of years ago, we looked at some statistics on divorce and Rheumatoid Disease, but the stories patients share tell the real story of divorce and RD.

Nothing with RD is simple, least of all marriage and divorce. But a challenge like RD can bring out the best in a spouse or make their selfishness and flawed character more obvious. And we have seen plenty of both.

Perhaps marriage is one more area where greater awareness could make a difference.

NOTE: Rheumatoid Awareness Day is just two weeks away – February 2. This year patients and organizations across the U.S. and in other countries are observing the second ever awareness day for RD. For updates on RPF sponsored Awareness Day events – click here. If you have a blog of any kind, please join our special blog carnival – What Would Rheumatoid Awareness Mean to You?

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 at 4:44 am and is filed under RA Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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