Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Keeping a Healthy Relationship When Chronically Ill

A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be devastating not only for the patient, but for loved ones as well. There is a saying that when one person lives with RA, the family lives with RA. Disease is not a considerate member of the family and will often interfere, and seems to do its best to inflict harm on any relationship if given the chance. Here are eight ways that you and your partner can maintain a healthy relationship despite chronic illness.

Create a safe environment

Create a safe environment for your partner and be willing to ask that your partner create a safe environment for you when you need it. Each member of the relationship needs to know that their partner is committed to a future together. A sense of emotional safety comes from the ability to express your thoughts and feelings openly and to accept each other’s differences. As physical needs change, make alterations at home to assist the person with physical limitations to stay as independent as possible. Working with a financial planner who has expertise in handling chronic medical conditions may help to improve financial security individually and collectively.

It is also very important that each partner knows that he/she is free from the threat of physical harm. If either member feels that he/she is the victim of any form of abuse - physical, sexual, emotional, economic, medical, or psychological - he/she should reach out for help and may contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Create a culture of positivity

Protect your relationship from difficult times by creating positive connections. In the book “7 Principles for Making Marriage Work,” Dr. Gottman and Nan Silver list 62 activities that foster positive sentiment in a relationship. The list includes things such as eating together (without distraction), reuniting at the end of the day and talk about how things went, and calling (text/email or send positive thoughts to) each other during the day.

Research indicates that successful relationships have five times more positive interactions than negative ones during arguments, and up to 20 times more positive than negative exchanges in regular interactions. Words of appreciation are important in any relationship but perhaps more so once chronic illness has entered the relationship. Speak of hope and a future, even when you have to talk about grief and loss. Focus on us and we, rather than I and you. Remember, you are in this together!

Read this post in its entirety:
8 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Relationship Despite Chronic Illness

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