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5 Tips For A Good Relationship With Chronic Illness

All relationships experience ups and downs and chronic health can significantly add to this. The chronic illness doesn’t just impact upon the person who has the condition but also on their relationship (or the ability to develop a relationship in the first place).


Having a chronic illness doesn’t often provide the ingredients that allows a relationship to grow and thrive but using and recognising some of the suggestions below can help.


1. Communication

Good communication is essential especially if your illness falls into the category of an ‘invisible illness’. You partner isn’t a mind-reader and unless it is visibly obvious it will be hard for them to know what is going on for you – whether you are having a good day or bad day with your physical symptoms or emotional wellbeing, then communicate this. This goes for the person who doesn’t have a chronic illness, you can struggle too with the impact the illness has on you and/or your loved one. It is essential that you communicate this and share how things are for you too.


2. Honesty

It is fantastic if you are communicating with your loved one but it is equally important that this is honest communication. There is no point saying that you are fine if you aren’t. This doesn’t help either of you to move forward that day, week or month. It isn’t just about being honest with each other but also be honest with yourself. Different emotions are allowed and it is important to be honest with yourself about these. Happiness, sadness, jealousy, guilt, sense of loss and grief, fed up, angry, acceptance and so on. All emotions are acceptable and it is important to be able to acknowledge and accept these within yourself and communicate this to your loved one if you can.


3. Adaptability/Creativity

We all know that having a chronic health issue can affect making plans together which can be tough. Plans don’t have to be wild, frivolous, jam-packed occasions to have fun and spend time together. It’s about being creative and adaptable. If you plan a day out somewhere or a date night and just aren’t well enough to go, then adapt. Be creative! Order a takeaway and catch up on a boxset you enjoy watching together or switch the TV off and snuggle on the sofa for a chat. If the weather is nice, sit outside and enjoy the moment together. It becomes a fact of life when living with a chronic illness that plans have to be changed at the last minute – learn to adapt to this together and it will help.


4. Self-Awareness

It is important to be aware of yourself as much as you can when living with a chronic illness or you are the partner of someone with a chronic illness. Sometimes you might express behaviours that you don’t realise you are doing or you consciously do because you think it is the right thing to do. For example, if you have an illness that flares up worse than usual from time to time, you may think the best thing to do is pull into yourself, wallow and push your loved one away because you think you are protecting them. Or if you are the partner of someone with a health condition, you may stop inviting them to events because you think it is the best thing to do to protect them. However, this doesn’t help at all. Being pushed away can result in feelings of anger, guilt or rejection and not being invited to events can cause a feeling of being left out or forgotten about.


5. Seek Some Help

This applies to both parties. Both the sufferer and their partner may need additional help at times to live with the health condition. This could be confiding in a friend or other family member, attending a local support group or community well-being activity, visiting the GP or accessing counselling. Asking for extra help is nothing to be ashamed of and can make the difference in a relationship where chronic illness exists.

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