My boyfriend, Chris, and I have been together for 3 years this November. Through these 3 years we have developed an amazing bond and I truly don’t know what I would do with out him. He has been with me through everything. All of the changes in medications, the surgery, the recovery, and all the mental and physical pain that I was put through for years. I am so thankful that I was able to have him and my parents with me through all of my issues with chronic illness. (Shout out to my Mom and Dad for all of their help with everything, they truly deserve the world for all they have done.)
Like any relationship, they have their ups and downs, and I would be lying if I said that my chronic illness never affected our relationship. Yes, it did affect us. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way that made us compromise, grow stronger, and work together. Over the past year especially, my Crohn’s disease has been particularly bad. This left me in pain almost every day from stomach distention and bloating. But, it also left me with sadness and anxiety. The mental aspect of my disease was very difficult because before this time, I was relatively stable and happy. But, through time as my symptoms got worse, I become more angry with life and was loosing hope in medicine. Through this difficult time, it was Chris and my parents that helped me to see a silver lining.
Need less to say, I have learnt a lot of lessons about how to navigate a relationship while living with a chronic illness and today I want to share 5 of the biggest lessons I have learnt over the years. But before we jump into it, make sure that you subscribed to my blog to get email updates every time I post, and follow me on Instagram @GutsyFeeling and Facebook @Gutsyfeeling to get more updates from me on my day to day life.
Lesson #1: They Are Trying To Understand
Although Chris may never fully be able to understand the pain that I go through with my chronic illness, he tries his very best to grasp it. Therefore, it is important to have compassion for your partner. One of the most hurtful things you can say to your partner is “You Just Don’t Get It”. I know we all get angry, and we lash out. But, it is important to realize that they are TRYING their best to understand what you go through, and you can’t fault them for not having a chronic illness.
Lesson #2: Compassion is Key
While it may seem that you are fighting this battle alone, it is important to consider how your family and friends may be effected by your condition. Now, I am not telling you to apologize for your condition. Rather, I am telling you that your family and friends will also be affected by your condition. Just like you may be sad by another failed drug, or bad news, they will also be upset by it. The closer someone is to you, the more likely that your illness will affect and upset them. Try to be compassionate about their feelings and try not to get defensive about your condition. Yes, your chronic illness affects you the most, but that does not mean it does not affect others.
Lesson #3: Your Discomfort Does Not Bring Them Pleasure
In a relationship, all we want to do is make the other person happy, no matter what. However, when living with a chronic illness, making your partner happy could lead to discomfort for you. For example, say that your partner wants to go out for drinks one night, but you are extremely fatigued and have stomach pain. You have two options, you can be honest about how you feel, or you could hide it and push through the night to make them happy.
If you pick the first option, you have the option to now pick something that will work better for both of you and compromise. But, if you pick option 2, you will bring your partner pleasure for a short while, but after a bit they will see your discomfort and they will feel terrible for making you go out when you were not feeling well. In option 2, neither of you ends up happy because your partner has regret, and you are feeling more sick than before. Therefore, it is clear that option 1 is the best option. Your partner does not want to see you in discomfort, even if you are tying to make them happy. So, moral of the story is to be HONEST.
Lesson #4: Us Vs. The World
When dealing with chronic illnesses it’s easy for stresses to lead up and cause tension in a relationship. However, it is important in times of tension to remember this one rule. It is not me vs. my partner, rather it is us vs. the problem. Meaning that when fights do arise, and trust me they will, try to approach the problem with a mentality that you are working together, as opposed to against each other. When you understand this concept, it is easier to approach any tension or problems that arise.
Lesson #5: Love is Love
At the end of the day, your partner loves you. This love is unconditional, and that means that they will love you through it all. Through all of the good days and bad days, through all the pain, through all the failed drugs, through all the missed opportunities, and through all the imperfect moments. They will hold no judgement, and will keep their promise to stand by you through it all. Love is what makes the world go round, and what holds us all together. So, in the end, your partner would do anything for you, and trust me they would take ALL of the pain away if they could. So, don’t forget, love is love, and love is all we need.
Well that’s all I’ve got folks. I hope you enjoyed this post, and you got a better insight into the highs and lows of a relationship, when a partner has a chronic illness. Next week, my boyfriend Chris will be sharing 5 things he has learnt from dating someone (aka me) with a Chronic Illness.
So, if you enjoyed this post and want to see more, make sure that you subscribed to my blog to get email updates every time I post, and follow me on Instagram @GutsyFeeling and Facebook @Gutsyfeeling to get more updates from me on my day to day life.
Your Trusty Gutsy Gal