“In sickness and in health” is a part of wedding vows. The weight in that message, however, sinks deep when a spouse is sick. Now, you get to feel its great impact even when you’ve said it ages ago. Some even experience this early into their marriages. True to the words uttered before your loved one, you owe a duty of care.
Caring for a spouse during a health challenge can be daunting. Worse, some do not know where to start. Hence, we have provided what should serve as a simple guide on how to wing it.
1. Keep Your Ears Open
There will be sleepless nights without a doubt. Most health challenges often are coupled with pain. So, when your spouse calls out to you, they need attention. The first days are easy, but when compassion fatigue sets in, things get harder. It is at this point that you need to listen all the more.
Accompany your spouse during clinic visits and learn more about their ailment. You can go as far as conducting research online. The more informed you are, the better equipped you are at showing support. Listen to your partner and act on whatever can make their lives easier. It is often the small acts that matter most.
2. Separate Sickness From Spouse
With time, feelings of helplessness set in. It is important to understand that it is not your spouse’s fault that they are sick. Yes, there will be days when you get some nagging feeling, but that calls for unconditional love. Where one loves unconditionally, such hurdles are easy to handle.
Picturing your partner in their former vibrant selves and separating them from the illness becomes easy. Symptoms will show and probably take a toll on your partner’s physical appearance. Also, mood swings among other effects appear because of medication’s side effects. Yet, the person you married remains deep inside. It is that simple realization that should keep you going.
3. Touch Works Wonders
Touch is one of the most meaningful ways of relaying intimate connections. Even in times of sickness strive to convey emotions through touch. From hand-holding, hugging, all the way to cuddling – touch works.
A recent study pioneered works into the effects of touch on pain among romantic partners. Researchers found reduced pain ratings among couples receiving romantic touch. Therefore, proving social bonding and partner support is key in regulating pain.
4. Engage in Fun Activities
As your spouse faces health challenges, most of the time is spent indoors. Outings seldom work, so it is upon you to find engaging indoor activities. They can range from things as simple as watching movies and reading a book out loud.
Where applicable, you can take it a notch higher to trying out recipes and workouts. Depending on the health condition, conventional workouts might not apply. However, technology offers novel ways to stay fit, healthy, and pain-free, such as vitamin IV Therapy.
Conducting a simple online search will fill your mind with fun activities that were previously unimagined.
5. Create a Culture of Gratitude
Gratitude is good for your health. Practice gratitude with your spouse in sickness and you will often forget the weight of the challenge at hand. You can keep a list of the things you are grateful for. With time, the positivity levels in your home will increase. That helps you with the situation better, for a merry soul is a healthy soul.
Regarding your spouse, show gratitude for whatever milestones they reach towards recovery. Have they just undergone a touch surgery? Showing gratitude for how they handled things warms up their hearts. If they have been taking their meds as per schedule, get them a gift in appreciation! It will surprise you what such simple acts achieve.
6. Give Your Spouse Some Space
Just as you will sometimes feel helpless, so will they. Being the only one doing things for your spouse may arouse feelings of helplessness in them. So, it is alright to have someone else do the caring. After all distance makes the heart grow fond. Once you are back at it, both of you will appreciate each other all the more.
It is natural for people to build up walls when facing challenges. Often our first instincts urge us to break down such walls. While it is OK to show concern, you ought to show respect when your spouse needs some time on their own.
7. Stay Flexible
Illnesses often come unannounced, disrupting schedules, and plans. Your ability to adjust fast will save a lot of troubles at heart for both of you. Have you planned a vacation overseas? That can always wait. Whatever plans you have, restructure them accordingly.
Since your presence is a must when caring for your spouse, change your priorities. Create new schedules that allow more time for your partner. Also, do not have any rigid expectations, as these can crush your efforts. Offer unconditional support without minding much about when everything will return to normalcy. Accept the new routines as the new norm.
8. Accept and Seek Help
To take care of your spouse in the best way possible, you need to stay healthy too. Thus, any help offered is good for both of you.
There are people who have undergone what you are going through. Reach out to them to understand how they handled it and what lessons came out of such experiences. You can even join support groups and forums if available. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Should you be feeling so drained, professional help is always available. You can find a therapist to talk to. Open up, let out your frustrations. You are human too, and it is only natural that you get overwhelmed once in a while. If communication with your spouse dwindles, you can have a therapist talk to both of you. What ails your relationship could be minor matters that are easily resolvable through talk.
Many are the things we know little or nothing about. Life is a journey of continuous learning and more often than not, we are plunged into the dark. Having a sick spouse is one of those situations, and the pointers above will hopefully help.
Reflecting on the past is fine, but do not linger too long. Looking forward to the future is fine too, but do not get tangled in unrealistic expectations. Focus on the present moment and your journey of care and love will be easier.