How Diabetes Can Affect Your Relationships
Relationships are fragile things. Whenever two people come together there will be conflicts, and some relationships are impacted by the health conditions of one or even both partners. Type 2 diabetes is one condition that can make an impact on relationships with your significant other, and even those with family members such as parents and siblings.
Of course, type 2 diabetes is not the leading cause of relationship breakups, but it is something that can take its toll. One of the reasons for this is that diabetes is mainly managed by lifestyle choices. It takes education, understanding along with sacrifice to implement such knowledge in order for the sufferer to maintain an optimal level of health.
Typically, without the support of the well partner, the partner with diabetes will have difficulty in implementing the changes required to take control of the disease. This applies to those who are married, living together or in a serious long-term relationship. Diabetes control centers on healthy lifestyle choices, and changing habits that maybe heavily engrained and this can have a psychological impact on both partners.
Those who have type 2 diabetes are not able to eat whatever they want and whenever they want. They may need to change smoking and alcohol drinking habits. They also need to exercise regularly and pay attention to their blood sugar levels. This can lead to problems in the relationship if the well partner does not understand or support these changes. One small example is when that partner buys donuts and keeps them in the house, even when that maybe a temptation the diabetic partner does not need. Sacrifices have to be made, and the partner without diabetes will have to make them just as the one that is diagnosed.
Alcohol maybe another issue, and if drinking was a regular occurrence in the relationship, then the sudden need to cut down and change those habits will place stress on both of the parties. Partners who do not wish to stop drinking or adjust their habits to meet the needs of the diabetic, may try to use peer pressure, and convince the other that a few drinks won’t hurt, simply because they want to drink themselves. Not only can this type of unsupportive behavior be a cause for anger and hurt from the diabetic, it can cause them to question how much the other person cares. And, since diabetes can lead to serious complications, such as heart disease, amputations, blindness, coma, and death this concern would be well justified.
There is a certain level of maturity that is required in any relationship, but perhaps even more maturity is required in relationships were one partner is dealing with diabetes. Not everyone has the ability to put other’s needs over his or her own, and this type of dynamic can lead to feelings of resentment on both sides.
Understanding and support is key. The one with diabetes needs to understand that the changes they need to make in their life will impact their partner, and of course that partner needs to also understand and support the needs of the one diagnosed. This takes sacrifice, and selflessness that not everyone can deal with and it may scare those who cannot deal with it away.
Fear And Resentment
Another issue that may come up is dealing with feelings of fear, guilt, and resentment. A newly diagnosed person can naturally experience feelings of fear and resentment at the diagnoses itself. Diabetes is scary as it is the 7th leading cause of death. They may be angry towards being the one diagnosed and since human nature typically dictates that we take out our worst feelings on those close to us, the other partner is right in the line of fire.
It really takes a lot of love, and a very astute partner, to recognize that the one with diabetes is struggling with intense issues and not to take such attacks personally. Many times this is not the case and constant fighting and hurt feelings can eventually result in a break up.
Communication is key. Both parties need to be open about how they feel about the situation, and support each other in whatever ways are needed. Sometimes it is helpful to make a list of the changes the diabetic needs to make and to create a written plan as to how both parties will deal with them.
Diabetes does not mean the end of life, and many of the more than 28 million diabetics in existence lead perfectly normal and healthy lives. Education and acceptance of the lifestyle changes required helps tremendously.
Talk with your partner; explain the condition, the complications, and the consequences. Express what you need from them. Then ask your partner what they need from you. This helps to open the lines of communication and may prevent heartache when the going gets tough.
We’re Here for You!
Yes, there’s a lot to learn about living well with diabetes. Getting in control might take some time. It’s going to mean making some changes in your life, but you can start with small changes, and you don’t have to make them all at once. And you don’t have to do it alone. If you aren’t on our mailing list and would like to keep up with what we are learning, sign up below. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and ask. I’m here to help!