Yesterday I discussed my struggle with maintaining a balance with my relationships and current chronic pain relapse, so – just like every nerd does – I did some research and came up with EIGHT (8) tips.
Feel free to comment below and add your own tips on maintaining healthy relationships when you have Chronic Pain or Endometriosis for now, here are mine:
Love Yourself First.
You cannot love anyone until you love yourself, first. We’ve all heard this saying before, right? Well, it is true. You will need to practice a little self-love before you will be able to work on maintaining your relationship with anyone else.
If you have been following along, you know that I struggle with guilt. This is something I am working on because it affects my ability to connect with my husband fully. If I feel guilty for being in pain, then somehow I am saying that there is something wrong with me. Or, that I should be ashamed of myself. That is not what I should be portraying! Yes, my body may need to be healed but I am far from broken!
Take time each day to practice self love. Whether it is taking a warm bath, enjoying a good book and lighting a candle, or just sitting in a quiet room sipping a warm cup of tea. Do something each day that makes YOU happy. Take care of YOU.
“Finding ways to talk openly about challenges,” she says, “is the first step toward effective problem-solving and the feelings of closeness that come from good teamwork.”
Keeping the lines of communication open is more important now than ever. You will be experiencing many stressful moments, learning how to deal with new challenges, and facing unexpected obstacles; if you do not stick together as a united team, it will be impossible to continue forward together.
Sit down together and have honest conversations about how you are feeling. Be careful, though, not to become consumed by the illness. Your relationship should not be defined by the illness. It is simply a new part of your relationship that you must confront – it is not who you are.
Make an actual “appointment” with each other.
Get ready for a crazy idea… make a scheduled appointment with your partner and at that time turn off your phones (and any other distractions). Focus on the two of you and whatever activity you are doing in that moment. BE PRESENT.
Acknowledge the loss of the way your relationship used to be.
Let’s be honest => chronic conditions will change your relationship. It will not be the same as it once was. You may not be able to do the same things you once were able to do, and your personalities and/or priorities may change. Your dream of becoming a gymnast may no longer be on your list of practical options, because those Lupron shots caused you to gain twenty pounds and you no longer fit in your cute little outfit. Or, those long walks along the lake you both loved taking may need to be shortened now because your energy levels just are not as high as they once were.
It is important that you both acknowledge that your relationship is going to change, it must change. If you are both willing to be flexible, then you will be able to brave this storm and more. The changes may be progressive over time, or may be bad at first and get better over time – discuss expectations. See number two.
Be Aware of your Partner’s Needs
Are you starting to see a theme here? Most of these tips revolve around communication! For this one, it is important for you to know your partner’s needs, and for you to communicate what you expect from your partner. Needs may change based on pain levels or the stage of the condition. For my condition, it depends on the day and pain level. Some days I am fine and can function like a normal human adult, others, I practically need to be carried to the toilet. It will be important for you to communicate to your partner what you expect from him in advance of these moments so that he is not caught off guard when you are yelling at him for forgetting that you needed a half-pint of cappuccino fudge blitz ice-cream every fifteenth day of your cycle at 5:00 PM because it “just helps”.
When you have a good understanding of what you or your partner is going through, it can increase your compassion. Be sure to educate yourself on the condition, symptoms, or injury you are experiencing in order to know what to expect. By educating yourself on the condition, you are putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and sympathizing with the pain he or she is feeling.
Address Financial Strain
Chronic Illnesses are expensive! Making a budget before it gets out of hand is the key to avoiding a financial headache later. You will have increased medical expenses and may need to leave your job for sometime if extended care or a surgery is required.
Being open and honest with each other about expenses and cutting costs where possible will help you in the long run.
Reward Each Other
No one said this journey was going to be easy. In fact moments of it are gong to flat out S.U.C.K. The upside, though, is that you have a support system. You have that amazing partner by your side! This step is one you need to not take for granted. Your partner loves you and you need to remember to show your love is a tangible manner every so often.
As mentioned in #7, financial strain is going to happen (because medicine is expensive) so you do not have to buy a Rolex to say “thanks, you rock my socks!” but a cute homemade card, cooking his favorite meal, a night of video games, a Star Wars video night, etc there are plenty of cost-sensitive reward ideas.
If your partner is anything like my husband, saying “Thank you” goes a really long way.
Do you have any additional tips?
Post yours in the comments!
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