JAN - FEB 2004
t feels like I'm laying
on thumb tacks," I tell my husband as he crawls into bed beside me.
"But there is nothing there! I feel so bruised."
For many of us, our spouse is our best friend. If our relationship is good, we want to share our feelings with them. Even if our relationship is hurting, we feel that by explaining our pain, they may sympathize and be more loving towards us. Although we don't want to burden them by constantly sharing about our aches and pains, when we are hurting there is a desire to be heard and have our feelings validated. By talking out loud about what we are feeling, it somehow makes the pain real- it's no longer "all in our head."
Be a team with your spouse. It's you and your spouse "up against" the illness. You may feel like your spouse is merely a spectator, but make him or her a part of your team fighting the battle of pain. Gently educate your spouse on your illness. Allow his or her presence at doctor's visits and provide answers to his or her questions about your illness. Acknowledge that your roles may be changing. Connie Kennemer who lives with multiple sclerosis shares, "I am not as mobile as I used to be and often ask more of my husband. 'Can you work at home this afternoon? Why do you have to go to another meeting?' etc. How much should he accommodate me because my body is changing? He doesn't always know when to stop and encourage me to try things myself. This is a constant challenge."
Have reasonable expectations. We often marry someone who has our opposite personality style. If you need to read every article about your illness, but your spouse doesn't, it may simply be because your spouse has a more laissez faire attitude, not because he doesn't care. Or perhaps you take things as they come and put off digging up information. Your spouse may accuse you of being in denial and not caring about your health because you don't research the illness with the same passion he does. An excellent book to smooth out your communication is Personality Plus for Couples: Understanding Yourself and the One You Love by Florence Littauer.
Have information available. If your spouse is a book-worm he may want to read books on your condition; perhaps the most effective way to share something is to place sticky notes. . .
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