I wish I could say that love between a person with chronic illness and a person without chronic illness was something that fit together like peanut butter and jelly (I mean they say opposites attract right??). Sadly, it's more like an oil and water situation - even though my boyfriend is a patient saint about it all.
I have had chronic illness for a long time, but I was in much less of a flare when I met my boyfriend (common-law husband). I warned him about what he was getting into, but I fully believe he did not see it getting nearly as out of hand as it did. Chronic illness isn't pretty. It can kill any semblance of romance really quickly. It is important to channel some of your tiny energy supply into keeping the relationship alive.
Here are my tips, even though I sometimes (more rarely now...) get lost in the occasional pity party:
- Make the effort to shower, put on decent clothes, and some make-up at least twice a week. I can't say I look very pretty when I'm sitting around in 3 day old pajamas (although my boyfriend just said none of this matters so perhaps I'm doing it to convince myself...).
- Communicate! Whenever we don't talk to each other minus life's distractions (TV, Internet, video games, etc...) we get really cranky. And cranky doesn't translate well into the bedroom.
- Try to find enthusiasm for the other person, even if you feel like you are being run over by a truck. Relationships can't be maintained when they are that one-sided (as I feel like I'm being run over nearly every day!).
- Snuggles (unless your skin hurts!). Sometimes just constant physical contact can say more than words.
- Keeping a daily journal - it really helps you go back and look at the problems you are having in a third-person kind of way.
- Be considerate. This is the one thing I have found with all of my relationships. These are people who go out of their way to help you when you are down. Do and say things that make them feel special (especially your mom and boyfriend - as they work above and beyond!).
- Avoid falling upon bitterness. It doesn't help you, and it doesn't help your relationships.
Obviously, I don't have all the answers. This is the first relationship of my life where I didn't entirely push the other person out of the picture. I want your suggestions - how do you keep your relationships afloat in prolonged times of crisis??
(Image from WeHeartIt)