Partner and family distress is to be expected when there is a serious illness. Recognizing the disruption and stress in your life is an important first step to taking meaningful action. It is essential to recognize that we all have limits, even machines break down occasionally.
When partners are able to get the help and information they need, the patient benefits by feeling the commitment and love that only a partner can provide.
Most people have concerns about having to depend on others when they are confronted with a serious illness. It may be hard to ask for or accept help. After all, you are used to taking care of yourself and perhaps others. Maybe you think that asking for help is a sign of weakness or will be a burden on others. Perhaps you do not want to let others know that some things are hard for you to do. All of these feelings are normal.
When caregivers and people with cancer seek and receive help from others, they often find it easier to cope with their illness. When you accept help from your loved ones, you are allowing them to feel connected to you during a time when they need to express how much they care about you.
Your loved ones may not know how to best support you and may say, “Let me know how I can help." This is a great opportunity to tell them in specific ways how they can help. People want to help those they love. It is important for you and it is important for them to allow this to happen. In accepting help, you will also role model that it is OK to ask for help when dealing with challenging times. This is an important lesson that you can give to them.
Meet with an expert such as a psychologist or social worker. They will listen to your concerns and assist you setting up a plan. Sometimes, just talking to a neutral party helps couples put things into perspective and opens up a dialogue. Psychologists and social workers have an arsenal of tools and skills to help people communicate better and become stronger as partners.
When someone asks, “Is there anything I can do?” say “Yes!” Then give them a specific task or ideas, for example:
Relationships may suffer when we are under stress. Dealing with the demands of illness, busy schedules and financial pressures causes people to have less time and energy to communicate effectively and support each other.
Fear, anger, emotional distancing and blame are common and unhelpful. However, despite serious illness, many couples grow closer and feel connected in ways that they never thought possible. In fact, feeling distant from your partner can be a signal that the relationship needs some healing and attention.
You now have the opportunity to practice open and honest communication to develop the relationship you always wanted and would be proud to have from this moment forward.
Be honest. Share how you feel with your partner. Use words that will help bring you closer to each other. You can start feeling connected again by: