When we aren’t feeling well it’s all too easy to take it out on those closest to us. We can let the stress get the best of us and that often leads to lashing out. We can’t take the anger and frustration out on the illness that causes these emotions, so we take them out on the people around us. Most often these are the people who love us the most.
I’ve learned that I need to make a focused effort to avoid doing this. My way of handling it is to retreat inward and cocoon in a way. When I’m in a flare I don’t talk much, unless I need to. But, when those flares last for weeks and months that can be problematic, and can leave my partner feeling ignored and shut out.
I’ve learned that no matter how bad I feel, I still have to take the time to show my partner 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.
When I first began dealing with chronic pain, I was still practically a newlywed. While I was dealing with the TMJ migraines and gallbladder pains that were so bad all I could do was lay on the couch and cry, he was also dealing with a stressful new job. Neither of us wanted to add an extra burden to the stress the other was already carrying, so we stopped talking.
Over our years together, communication was an area we continued to struggle with. After realizing what happened back at the beginning we worked on it, but inevitably stress continued to create conflicts for us, that lead to communication being shut down repeatedly. I’d say that that was probably our biggest issue
It’s something I struggle with. But, I continue to work on. With my current SO, there have been times when I didn’t communicate as fast or effectively as I needed to and that lead to extra stress. But, whether or not chronic illness is at play, I have to remember just how important communication is. It really is the foundation of any relationship.
2. Be Honest – It’s easy to get frustrated with the question of “how are you?” or to answer with the default “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 your partner doesn’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 – I am learning, but I continue to struggle with asking for help. With my ex I felt I couldn’t win. If I asked for help it felt as if it was given grudgingly. If I didn’t ask for help he got upset that I didn’t ask. As a result it became ingrained to just not ask unless I had to.
With my current SO it’s been a different story. I still wouldn’t just ask him to do something I can easily do for myself – he’s not my slave. But, if I’m feeling bad I don’t feel bad about asking him to bring me something to eat or drink. There have even been times I’ve texted from anther room to ask him to bring me a blanket or some other item. Each time he does this without a second thought and without ever making me feel bad. And, each time he does so I gain more confidence in my ability to ask for help.
We all want to be needed, and asking for help is like giving a gift as it shows your loved one that you need them.
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 your partner 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, or send them random texts during the day. 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 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.
Even though they are coming home to a sick partner who they have to take care of, they can also 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.
I think this last bit is one of the most important things I learned during my last stint in counseling. It’s so easy to get hung up on “shoulds” and on societies expectations but we can make our relationships work in a myriad of ways, that can be completely out of the norm.
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.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. Click To Tweet
- Caution: Chronic Illness May Cause Relationship Conflicts
- The Impact of Chronic Illness on Marriage
- How Chronic Illness is Like a Marriage
- How Chronic Pain Affects Sex in New Relationships