After over 6 months of dealing with seizure disorder, MS, and all the complications that have come with it (the emotional struggles and juggled responsibilities), Adam and I were both exhausted. Even the most loving couples have their limits – and we’d hit ours.
So, being the spontaneous kind of girl that I am, I hit Hotwire and wanted to see if their 4 star hotel at a 2 star price ad campaign was real. It *so* was. We went to the San Diego Hilton Resort for one night for less than $100, and we reconnected. We went to the beach, to Balboa Park, and all along the bay. I got to walk around and feel like my old self, and I didn’t have any seizures the whole time! (yay!) We remembered why we got together in the first place, and left feeling relaxed, refreshed, and with romance rekindled. (Come on, how often do you get to use alliteration? Besides, “R” is my letter. 😉 )
I know we can’t possibly be the only couple that is challenged by the stress, frustration, and sadness of chronic disease. I think we’ve got a good system though for making things better, and I think they’d be applicable to anyone in our situation.
1.) Remember that this disease is not your fault. Because of that, you can’t be sorry for something you can’t control. Constantly apologizing makes people think that you somehow *do* have control over the situation. Don’t make them think that when it’s not true. It’ll only make you AND them think less of you. (Not good for either party involved!)
2.) Remember that you are a TEAM, and that it’s both of you vs. the awfulness caused by your disease – not them vs. you. If your partner is having to support you in a way you’ve never needed support, you don’t owe your partner anything other than love and appreciation. Love is not a tit for a tat.
3.) Recognize and admit when you’re not feeling well or when you need help. A good partner will want you to stop doing whatever’s affecting you LONG before stubborn people like me would be willing to take a break. Taking a break when they suggest it lets them relax more too. If you fall in a public place, they have a lot of work to do. Being sensitive to your condition is also being sensitive to your partner.
4.) Focus on what you can do and not on what you can’t — both of you. Your partner hurts because they can’t take away your condition. You hurt because you see your partner hurting… oh, and you have that condition too… It’s important to remember that you’re not causing your partner’s upset in either situation. When compassion becomes a spiral of sadness for the both of you, it ceases to be a virtue.
5.) Remember that you are not defined by your physical condition. Being caught up in awfulness for a time (short or long) where you have to focus constantly on your body can make you forget that there is more to life. (omg for realz!) You have to take time every day to remember what makes you special – what brings you joy. Life’s too short to dwell in the negative, and if you forget who you are, you cease to be the person who your partner fell in love with. Even the best relationships can suffer in this situation. It’s everyone’s responsibility to themselves to live in integrity with themselves and to honor their individual gifts, ill or not.
6.) Be honest! Just because you’re depending on someone else doesn’t mean that you should constantly defer to their desires. If you have an opinion on something, voice it! The last thing you want to do is build up resentment because in your own effort to not feel like a burden, you feel like they have total control. Such a power imbalance can wreck a relationship that’s based on respect and equality – not to mention that true emotional intimacy can only exist where there’s a bond of trust built off of honesty.
7.) But more than anything, the most important thing you can have with each other is a commitment to stay together through thick and thin and to truly appreciate one another for the roles you play in each other’s lives.
I love my boyfriend to the ends of the earth and then some. I love how much I’m learning about myself, about life, and about love through my relationship with him. I feel so lucky. 🙂