|May 17, 2007|
There are many times that I go into self-pity mode and think that my husband would be so much better off without me. The guy is rarely sick, and when he is he’s over it within a day, and he’s stuck dealing with me. In the 7 years we’ve been together I’ve been well a total of maybe 2 years (maybe). Even before we were married it was one thing after another, we spent 6 months (during our first year together) with me having strep throat once a month, culminating in my tonsils finally coming out. After that we were good for about a year (which included the first year of our marriage, luckily), before we started dealing with one thing after another, almost constantly for the last 5 years. The one good thing about all the bad times is that it really makes you appreciate the good times. Even so, it only takes a few months to forget how bad it was and start taking things for granted again. So, as I sit here on Valentines Day thinking about my awesome husband and all we’ve been through. We’ve both learned a lot about what it meant when we said “In Sickness and in Health”. I’ve learned that no matter how bad I feel, I still have to take the time to show him that I love him and that he’s the most important thing to me.
5 Ways to Show Your Love to Your Partner… even when you feel like crap.
1. Communicate – Communication really is the most important thing in any relationship. Unfortunately, when we are sick it’s all too easy to retreat inside ourselves. We don’t want to “bother” our loved ones with how bad we feel. We feel like we are just “whining” or have nothing positive to say. A few years ago when this all started with the TMJ migraines and gallbladder pains that were so bad all I could do was lay on the couch and cry, we stopped talking. At the same time I was dealing with so much pain, he was going through a really bad time at work. I couldn’t talk and honestly, I couldn’t even listen at that point. He did his best to be there for me as much as he could, making sure I ate, taking me to the ER every other week. But, we didn’t talk. It was several months after I’d recovered before we realized that we still weren’t really talking. We took a road trip and as we hiked through the woods we finally started talking, and realized what had happened. I wish I could say we’ve communicated wonderfully ever since, but it’s not true. We’ve had bad patches. Along the way, at one point I suggested a couples retreat. That freaked him out, he thought something like that (counseling) was for couples that were on the brink of failure. I was looking at it as more of a tune-up. We never went to a retreat, but he did head out to the book store and come home with a wonderful book that really helped us both learn a lot about communicating with each other, as well as understanding each others needs. Communication Miracles for Couples is a book I still refer back to when I feel like I need a “tune-up” in my communication with him.
2. Be Honest – It’s easy to get frustrated with the question of “how are you?” or to do what we are all conditioned to do and answer with “I’m fine”. Don’t do it. Understand that your partner loves you and when they ask how you are or how you are feeling, they want the truth. Give it to them, even if it’s bad. If they don’t really know how you are feeling they can’t help you. With that, don’t forget to let them know when you feel good. And, do your best to make the most of those times when you do feel good.
3. Ask for Help – This is something I’m terrible at. During my recovery from surgery last month, I wouldn’t ask for help. It wasn’t about being independent so much as not wanting to be a bother. Add to that, that I really didn’t know what to ask for sometimes. I’d sit there starving but I wouldn’t ask him to make my juice because I felt like it was just too much trouble. If he was cooking for both of us, I’d eat, but I wouldn’t ask him to do for me. This is an area I really need to improve on. As he told me, he can’t help if he doesn’t know what I need. He can’t make me food if he doesn’t know I’m hungry.
4. Show them You Love Them – Sometimes we can’t handle being touched, and that alone can create a barrier (especially if your partner’s Love Language is touch), but we can show them we love them. Let them know they are appreciated, thank them for the things they do to help you. Tell them you appreciate them, and touch them when you can. I know sometimes when I can’t handle actually being touched, I can still touch someone (it’s not my fingers that are bothered, it’s the skin on the outside), so in those times I try to hold his hand instead of letting him hold mine. Leave them little notes around the house that they can find. Find small ways to do things to show them how much you love them even if you can’t do the big things.
Remember, love isn’t always about being a provider, cooking dinner, making the bed, doing the dishes (although I will so say that when I feel bad and he does those things it is a HUGE deal for me), sometimes showing someone you love them is about the smallest things.
5. Listen – When I’m really hurting I don’t feel like talking at all. There will be things in my brain that I need to tell him or want to tell him but I just don’t feel like talking. During those times, however, I can still listen. As much as we may feel alone sometimes in our pain, our partners often feel alone simply because we aren’t fully there for them. No matter how bad we feel, we can still take time to listen to them, to let them share their day, their troubles, to let them vent and unwind from a hard day. Rather than making their day harder by coming home to a sick partner who they have to take care of, they can come home to partner who will listen. Simply listening allows them to get rid of some of their stress. And with a little less stress they can take a lot better care of us.
While relationships have to go both ways, and both partners must give their all, that does not mean that we each have to give the same things, or that we have to fill the standard relationship roles. Due to our medical conditions we may not be able to do what society expects of us, but we can create a happy and fulfilling relationship with those who love us.