Marriage is all about compromise. It isn’t easy to live with a partner. It’s essential that you balance responsibilities around the house so neither partner feels like they’re shouldering too much of the work.
Living with a chronic disease like asthma can impact this balance.
My mom and dad had a bargain. He worked and made money. She stayed home and cared for the kids.
It worked great for them, but my wife and I both have jobs. She’s a nurse, and I’m a respiratory therapist.
We aim to evenly share tasks around the house. She’d like me to deal with a few things that she doesn’t have the interest or skills to handle. However, I, unfortunately, can’t take on these responsibilities due to my asthma.
This situation has caused some tension in our marriage.
Fortunately, I’ve also come up with a few compromises to restore the balance.
Here are a few of the ways my asthma has caused challenges in my marriage and the solutions we’ve found to overcome them.
How my asthma caused tension in my marriage
I can’t fix things
Young couples often buy fixer-upper houses. We bought an older home in need of lots of repairs. Unfortunately, I was unable to repair anything that needed fixing.
It’s not that I didn’t necessarily have the know-how. I knew how to fix drywall, for instance. But there’s lots of dust exposure when you strip the plaster off of old walls, and dust triggers my asthma. Yet, hiring someone to do the work is expensive.
Unless your partner is knowledgeable about house repairs, some things probably won’t get done if you buy a fixer-upper house when you have asthma. This can cause tension after a while, and it certainly did in my marriage.
I don’t clean certain areas of the house
My wife wasn’t interested in cleaning the garage or basement. She expected me to, since she didn't like that job and also takes care of plenty of other things around the house.
There are times when these areas get messy. Stuff collects, especially since we have four of the most wonderful kids in the world.
We amass boxes at Christmas from all the new toys. Then the old toys get shoved into the basement or garage with the boxes from the new toys.
Over time, this mess collects dust mites and mold spores. It fills the basement and garage with allergy and asthma triggers. And because of those triggers, that mess doesn’t get cleaned.
This leads to moments of tension. Sometimes they’re caused by my own guilt, but at other times, my wife forgets I have asthma and thinks I’m just being lazy.
I can’t do yard work
And my wife can’t do yard work either. It's a dirty job that takes a lot of time. She already does most of the shopping. So that leaves the mowing to me.
I’m allergic to pollen and mold spores, which are triggers you can find outdoors.
Add in a large yard, lots of weeds, and areas where grass won’t grow along with dust and pollen that blows into the air when you mow the lawn.
Once we got a quote from a professional landscaping company, but the estimate was far over our budget. We could’ve hired a professional lawn care service to mow the grass, but that costs money, too. This kind of money is typically better spent elsewhere when you have a family.
Usually, we end up with a crappy-looking yard that gets cut two to three times in the summer. And yes, this did cause some tension with my wife.
How I’ve found compromises that benefit my marriage
There are chores that my wife would like me to take on that I simply can’t because I have asthma. But I am able and do like to take care of a few tasks that I hope help make up the gap. I think we’ve found a few trade-offs that work for us.
I like doing the dishes
I think I make up for not cleaning the basement or garage with other indoor chores. I started doing these tasks when I was a kid.
My brothers gathered wood and cut the grass with our dad. I felt guilty just sitting around due to my asthma and wanted to stay industrious, so I started helping my mom inside.
This meant I was exposed to fewer asthma triggers like dust and mold, and my mom enjoyed the help. She taught me how to wash dishes and do the laundry.
I continue to take care of these jobs in our marriage. My wife definitely appreciates it.
I love taking care of kids
My dad loved kids but cringed when it came time to change diapers. So he didn’t. That worked out fine for them because he was usually at work and mom was at home with us.
My wife and I both work, so we take turns caring for our kids.
I spent more time with my mom than with my dad when I was a kid and became adept at helping with my younger siblings. I even did the diaper thing.
This prepared me to be a great dad. My wife values the assistance big time.
I make extra cash writing
My asthma has given me the opportunity to be a freelance writer.
I like to write when I’m not working and when other chores are finished. This allows me to make extra money on the side.
I use it to do repairs, go on dates with my wife, and go on family vacations. Sometimes it also results in giving my wife presents and flowers. All of these extras are much appreciated and benefit our relationship.
Having asthma can definitely cause tension in relationships, but it’s definitely possible to find solutions.
I like to focus on the ways that asthma makes me a better partner.
For more information on how to manage asthma, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-US-NP-00612 APRIL 2020