How Illness in the Family Can Affect Your Relationship

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How can you stay in a loving relationship when you’re upset by a serious health condition of someone in the family? Maybe your time and energy are being redirected by helping your family member get through their illness. At first, there’s the initial shock and possibly grief – almost like you just got news of a death. How can you support one another, keep the love flowing, and do what needs to be done to help those you love who need you now desperately? Tension is building. You’re in uncharted waters

If an illness in the family isn’t going on in your life now, it probably will some time down the road. It happens to just about everyone. Don’t be blind-sided. Be prepared.

 

Helping Out

So here are a few scenarios. Maybe his mother is elderly, close to end of life and needs ongoing care. Maybe you just discovered your best friend has stage 4 lung cancer and needs help getting chemo therapy. Or maybe your single brother had a mental breakdown and you’re concerned about his ability to cope with daily activity?

When you’re in a relationship and someone in the family or a close friend is ill, you’re emotionally entangled – both with them and with your mate. How can you give proper attention and support to both?

 

 Coping Strategies

·         It’s important to stay positive and upbeat and not let fear, anger, or anxiety ruin your life or the life of your relationship.

·         Can you take sick leave off of work? Can you rearrange your schedule so you can fit in more time to help your relative or friend and still have time for your mate?

·         It’s also important to stay healthy. You can’t help anyone or be a good partner if you’re sick too. Keep your immune system functioning and energy level up by eating healthy food, getting enough restful sleep, and keeping a positive attitude.

·         Be honest and open with your partner. Talk to him/her about your worries, fears, and anxieties.

·         Discuss how your family member’s illness might affect your relationship with one another.

·         Decide how you can provide comfort and care without neglecting each others’ needs and desires.

·         Be understanding if the ill person is your partner’s relative or friend.

·         Try not to add stress to the situation by making demands on your mate, by being self-centered, being argumentative, throwing temper tantrums.

·         Quality time goes a long way. If you can’t spend the amount of time you normally do with your mate, make the shorter time more meaningful. Plan activities, intensive talk sessions, or just find ways that will make you both feel more at peace.

·         Be mindful that accusations and resentment are poisonous. Whether it’s anger at your brother for not helping out with a sick mother or finger-pointing at another relative or friend whose behavior you find upsetting. Spill-overs can occur into your own relationship.

·         Are you acting impulsively? Work out in your head or on paper how certain thoughts are non-productive and even destructive. Negative feelings can also lead to negative actions. Stop and think about the results of reacting emotionally. Think carefully before you act.