Lupus is a pretty tough cookie. It can be equally tough on your significant other. I’m lucky to have a life partner who has supported me every step of the way. I have many friends with chronic illness who haven’t been that lucky. How do you keep a relationship going through chronic pain and debilitation? It isn’t easy, for sure. Luckily, I chose the right guy to be with. On the other hand, it isn’t all luck. There are ways we both work to keep our relationship strong. Here are some tips that might help you do the same.
We use laughter to get us through bad days.
Lupus is a big bummer. It also gives us a lot to laugh about. For instance, there’s the little dance I do to pull my pants up because my hands don’t work right in the morning. Or the way I thought I made coffee this morning. He jokingly poured an invisible cup to demonstrate my absent-mindedness. We choose to laugh through our struggles with this disease because it beats the heck out of being miserable.
I don’t try to be his everything.
I have more than a few limitations with this illness. It’s not a matter of positivity sometimes. There are simply things I cannot do, no matter my attitude or determination. When those limitations impact my partner, he has a great way of looking at it. He says I shouldn’t try to be everything for him. I should just be who I am and concentrate on the things I do well, because those things are a big part of what makes our relationship so great.
He pauses before being critical.
I’ve noticed something about my partner lately. He actually does make an effort to understand something that a lot of people don’t. He knows that decisions, thought processes and actions are different for those with chronic illness. Whether it’s the meds or the disease, Lupus has a way of changing people. So, before being critical of my actions, he stops to think about whether he is dealing with me or Lupus right then.
I remind him about role reversal.
My partner is not perfect. When he’s having issues with the impact “my” Lupus has on “his” life, I do call him on it. I remind him that this is our life, not mine or his. I assure him that if the roles were reversed, I would have his back without question. Our relationship is strong through Lupus, because we’re honest with each other. We calmly state the facts without losing our tempers. We admit when there’s a problem and discuss it rationally.
We really do concentrate on “can dos.”
Isn’t that the secret of many good relationships? With Lupus, that’s important, because there are a lot of can’t dos. I can’t go skiing. I can’t ride a bike for long distances. That’s OK, because there are a lot of things I can do. I can sled. I can bike short distances. I can work out, if I don’t overdo it. In fact, there are a lot of things we can do together as a couple.
And the revelation?
We enjoy those “can-do” things more than “normal” people because we know first hand how precious they are and how easily they can be taken away.
More from Jaipi:
Finding New Hobbies When Chronically Ill
5 Ways to Encourage Hair Growth when Toxic Meds Cause Hair Loss
Gardening Closer to the Sun with Lupus