What happens when one spouse has a medical illness?

What happens when one spouse has a medical illness?

January 12, 2015 Couples Therapy Marriage Therapy 0

old couple sleepingA medical illness is not only something that affects your physical state, but also your mental and emotional well-being. This is especially true when one spouse becomes seriously ill, and the other spouse has to take care of them.

This can sometimes cause serious emotional problems as well. In some cases, serious signs of depression can occur to either the ill spouse or their caretaker. To try to prevent this from happening, here are a few steps you can both take together to help remedy the situation.

Open and Honest Communication-First, and foremost, nothing can happen without clear, open, and honest communication between spouses. A medical illness affects both spouses. Therefore, make sure that you have an open dialogue about the illness, and about the care of the spouse.

Things as small as helping them move from one room to the other, or getting out of a wheelchair could turn into flash points of division. To help you work with each other, make sure that you calmly explain your feelings on the situation.

When the other side understands what you are experiencing, then they will respect those feelings, and act accordingly.

Watch for Signs of Depression-According to a recent Harvard Health Study, nearly a third or more of those with illness suffer some type of moderate to severe depression. Understanding the signs of depression is important, because you will want to report this to your doctor so they can help your spouse or you overcome it.

Care for the Caregiver- Being a caregiver can be stressful. That is why caregivers need a way to relieve that stress. Every week, a caregiver should take some personal time for himself or herself. This could be for exercise, shopping, enjoying a hobby or even just alone time reading a book at a cafe.

When a caregiver ignores their own quality of life in favor of the ill spouse, problems often follow.

Social Networks-Being sick can be very isolating. A friend of mine has had Multiple Sclerosis for the past 30 years. However, he is a very personable individual. Partly because he has a wide network of friends who visit him personally on a regular basis, plus a number of friends he has made on the internet over the years.

These friendships help him stay connected to reality, and allow him to feel like part of the world around him. This is an important part of healing for most people with serious illnesses. The isolation can sometimes be worse than the disease.

Doing Something Special for Each Other- Finally, you want to do something special for each other on a regular basis. While the affected spouse might not be able to do as much as they did previously, they should still make an effort and try to make their partner feel special.

The same goes for the caregiver. They need to be able to do something special for the other person each week, so they can increase the solidarity of their relationship.



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