17 Tips for caregiving husbands: chronic illness and marriage.
17 tips for caregiving husbands.
Tips for caregiving husbands aren’t common because the majority of blogs focus on those who suffer from chronic illness and which are written by them.
Caring for someone with chronic illness can be a stressful experience, let alone more than one condition. You always take on extra responsibilities, may miss work, and experience financial strain.
You may feel frustrated and resentful towards your wife, facing uncertainty about the future of your marriage. You need assistance that seems nowhere to be found.
Luckily for you here is your answer!
Here are quick 17 tips for caregiving husbands:
- Take care of your physical self.
- Take care of your mental self.
- Accept help.
- Consider counseling.
- Grieve your losses.
- You and your spouse are still partners.
- Communicate your needs to your spouse.
- Create new shared activities.
- Use humor and shared history to live well.
- Listen to music.
- Take a twenty-minute walk.
- Talk to one friend or family member a day.
- The same goes for your spouse.
- Keep your own tastes in mind.
- Learn to argue if you need to.
- Find one person to talk to.
- Embrace a nightly ritual.
Why do I care?
Hi, I’m glad you’re here because you and I have one thing in common – you are the husband whose wife has a chronic illness, so am I…
Actually, my wife suffers from multimorbidity.
M was diagnosed with endometriosis and what followed after – fibromyalgia. Both syndromes caused her to develop severe OCD, general anxiety, panic attacks, and severe depression.
I am pretty sure that if your wife has a chronic condition, she also suffers from anxiety and maybe even depressive states from time to time.
I decided to write these 17 tips for caregiving husbands because I am one, and I struggled to support my beautiful wife in her struggles.
These are my accounts from a male perspective. We need more of those because spousal caregivers are often forgotten and marginalized. Our voices need to be heard!
So, without further ado, I describe in more detail my 17 tips for caregiving husbands…
Take care of your physical self.
You need to maintain your health. This is the golden rule of caregiving. To well serve your loved one, you have to take time to get proper rest, eat well, and exercise.
You have to understand that you must stay healthy to be a good help to your wife. If you get ill, she’ll be in trouble!
That means taking care of your own medical issues as well as exercising. You also need to cut on these fatty chips and bacon. You don’t have to cut them completely, just eat less of them.
Eating well is going to help you prevent heart diseases, strokes, and fatigue called in your case “caregiver burnout”.
Letting your own health deteriorate will not help your wife for whom you are providing care. In fact, you would be even taking away her lifeline. So take care of yourself for yourself, as well as for your partner.
Take care of your mental self.
The same applies to your mental well-being. Your mental health is as important as physical health.
Visit friends, talk it out, exercise, have a cold one! Do whatever you like doing to stay sane.
If you’re interested, you will find helpful activities such as meditation, reading, going to church, seeing a therapist, joining online support groups, or even attending them in person.
Do what you need to do to stay emotionally healthy. Sometimes you need to take a fresh look at your caregiving routine.
What I found most helpful is blogging.
Blog my friend!
Why? Here’s why!
- It keeps you occupied.
- You help other people.
- You learn from them too.
- You have a goal…
- You create a business!
- You can make blogging a living!
- Ditch your 9 to 5 and be with your wife.
The third of the 17 tips for caregiving husbands is accepting help.
I tried to suck it up for 14 years now. There will be a time when you have enough of this vicious cycle… but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are struggling, accept help!
There is no shame.
When people offer to help, accept the offer. You may even suggest specific things that they can do.
If your wife allows it or you take full control, consider paying for help in such areas as meals, house cleaning, and transportation.
You don’t have to do everything alone, sooner or later everybody breaks! Don’t be a hero. You already are!
Another way of asking for help in counseling. Not only your chronically ill partner needs it, but it can also definitely benefit you too.
My wife had three separate cognitive-behavioral therapies. I was invited to some of these sessions. It helped me a lot, I never refused.
Be sensitive to signs of stress and consider seeing a therapist if you detect them. I wrote a fantastic guide explaining 17 symptoms of caregiver stress and preventing caregiver burnout.
When you have a chance, take a look.
Signs that counseling might be appropriate include feeling anger, resentment, exhaustion, feeling burned out, or even simply over-reacting.
Don’t go alone, consider counseling.
Grieve your losses.
Not only do people with endometriosis, CFS, or fibromyalgia experience many losses, so do those around them.
For every person who suffers from chronic conditions, there is an army of partners who support them. They are deprived of part of the relationship they used to have.
Giving one another a personal space is important to your marriage. But it’s even more important when to give yourself space to grieve.
Chronic illness doesn’t change the fact that only the affected one has to grieve. The caregiver needs to do the same to relieve accumulated emotions.
Self-care for caregivers must incorporate some alone time for them to have a chance to do something that he/she wants to do alone. This rule applies to both of you but may be the hardest for you.
You and your spouse are still partners.
As the caregiver, you need to be very careful not to cause a severe loss in the dignity and respect for your ill partner, when you provide care for her.
You need to have mutual respect for each other because that will keep your marriage healthy, it must stay intact.
One way you can do this is by remembering that you are partners for life, and each one of you has something to give.
You, as the caregiver, may have to gradually take over more responsibilities, depending on your wife’s condition, but you should always remember, it is the person you fell in love with.
If you are just starting a relationship with a person who is chronically ill, you will have to be prepared for fact that it won’t be easy.
It will be a life with a lot of ups and downs. You may need to have a patience of a saint, and mental strength, because there will be more health issues and more worry than with a healthy partner.
However, you should never forget that you can rely on your wife, despite her illness. She’s still your best friend and loving partner who cares about you.
Communicate your needs.
Communicate your needs to your spouse, help her understand that other activities and even people can refresh your relationship.
For me, it’s blogging. I have an escape from it all, time to breathe and recharge my batteries.
In the beginning, my M thought of me as obsessed with it. But I explained to her the importance of blogging and how it has a good effect on my mental state. It keeps me sane when I get overwhelmed.
Also, find out if a friend of your spouse can spend some time with her too while you go out. You can always swap stories with your spouse when you return.
Communication is a big part of any partnership and it will take work but can be done.
Whatever problems may arise along the way of your caregiving journey, just communicate with each other and you will be okay.
Create new shared activities!
For me and my wife, it was always dancing. We’ve met on the dance floor – she was my teacher, I was her student…
14 years later, we still dance together. W may not teach and perform like we used to, because her illnesses prevent her from planning, but we still compete.
Latin-ballroom dance is our passion. We share it together and do it for fitness and fun.
Aside from that, we go for long walks into the woods. We also love to travel. We both love my wife’s country – Italy, and try to go there twice a year.
Overall, traveling is our passion. We love little things like visits to cafes, garden centers, gardens, castles, etc…
We always had some things in common. If you don’t have it, you can always find it. Sharing some things together will bring you closer.
Do more of what makes you both happy!
Use humor and shared history to live well.
I’m an optimist and it comes easy to me. I smile naturally, and a positive mood keeps me going.
Even in the most difficult situations, such as my wife’s suicidal attempts, I knew it was going to be okay. My mind is just optimized that way. I cannot help it.
I try to make my wife smile. Sometimes I have to hold my horses, whenever M is in terrible pain, but as soon as the flare-up goes away, I try to joke and lift her spirit!
We often go back into our happy past by looking at holiday photos and planning more for the future.
That keeps us going. We also read all those wonderful comments we used to get when performing dancing. It is nice to know that our passion made other people smile.
Humor is essential to maintain a good relationship. Remember the good times to help each other manage these difficult times.
Remembering what is possible instead of the constant thinking about what is lost, is vital to getting the most out of life. Laughter is a big part of that dynamic.
Listen to music!
Music is uplifting, we cannot deny it. Music can be a powerful tool, especially when you hear a specific song, it can awake very nice memories.
Think about when you hear a song from your childhood or teen years you used to love. It takes you right back to that time and feels extremely familiar.
It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t feel a strong connection to music. We all love it.
Music can make you feel motivated and ready for action. It can definitely help you to relax. It’s a great tool for stress and anxiety.
If you feel angry or stressed about your situation, you can put on a calming song and really take notice of how that affects your mind and body.
If your partner listens to music, endorphins are released in her body and these are hormones that interact with receptors in our body, interrupting pain signals and relieving pain.
They work in a similar way to opioids, but without any side effects. After all, endorphins act as the body’s natural painkillers.
Take a twenty-minute walk.
Well, I mentioned this briefly already. Take a twenty-minute walk with your partner, or even longer if she can get away with it. The more time spent outside in the fresh air the better.
We live with my wife in a place that is very pretty, filled with woods, animals, and beautiful wild sounds. We even see parakeets!
I found that just getting outside, and noticing these little things, helps me take a break and my wife forget about her pain and struggles. Her pain literally goes away when she focuses on something else.
Aside from physical benefits, it helps our mental health.
Being stuck between four walls makes people feel dark and depressed. The latest Covid-19 pandemic was clear proof of that.
The vast majority of people got depressed during this global lockdown. There is inside of us a deeply hidden need to be connected with nature, to be with people, and to be outside.
A twenty-minute walk is enough to make you both feel more positive.
Talk to one friend or family member a day.
Since I live abroad, for me it is my mother-in-law. I can always rely on her to listen to me. My accumulated emotions can be released and that helps a great deal!
Additionally, her mother knows her best and she knows what I might be going through more than anyone else could.
However, there are always people who normally would be complete strangers to you, as they live in the other part of the world, but you would be surprised how helpful they can be.
If you cannot meet that person face-to-face, you can always make a call. It never feels like there’s time for a phone call, but don’t get discouraged – it can be a quick one.
Remember, with the latest Zoom or Teams, you can always have a video call with someone. That helps a lot!
The same goes for your spouse.
She has to try not to impose responsibilities on you when you are busy.
Your wife needs to try and encourage you instead to keep up with family and friends, to encourage them to keep up with you.
Whenever she can, she should go out and meet friends or invite them to the house.
You both need time alone, and sometimes you need to see someone else rather than each other.
Keep it fresh!
Keep your own tastes in mind.
It’s a very small thing, but as a caregiver, it’s easy to forget about yourself in many ways. What you love doing can help fight that.
Cook food if you like doing that, and look forward to eating it. Choose a movie that you think you’ll enjoy. Go to the gym, blog if you like it too.
My wife sometimes thinks that I spend too much time blogging. But I love it, it keeps me sane and energized.
I know how much you care, but don’t have to agree to everything she says. Have a say, she’ll respect you for that and realize that if you can make decisions by yourself, she can count on you.
Learn to argue if you need to.
One of the hardest things about being a spouse and a caregiver at the same time is the roles that you have to take.
There will always be some kind of injustice. She’s ill and has lost a lot, you on the other hand lost something too!
She has lost her old self and ability to work, exercise, do what she used to love doing. You gain extra responsibilities and this seems not fair.
A conflict will always arise from time to time, and it may be painful.
As a spouse, you need to be her partner – someone she can share her difficulties with. As a caregiver, you need to be firm and do what you have to do.
Treat the illness like a third party in the relationship – something both you as the husband and she as the wife could be mad at. Not at each other.
At first, it seems silly, but you will realize that there is truth in it. Even though the conversations you may have about that will be painful, I think they will help you know each other better, which helps you feel like you still have a marriage.
Embrace a nightly ritual.
At the end of every night, try to take a few minutes to go outside by yourself. Look up into the stars (if you can see them), and think about how small we are in the scheme of things.
Think what you have – your health! Appreciate it. Think of what and who I care about, what, and who you’re thankful for.
No matter what’s going on and how hard it can get, you still have each other. Find yourself glad to be alive on this earth. Feel that for a while, and then go back inside and snuggle up under the covers.
Enjoy each other. Feel intimate and close to one another. It’s not always about sex!
Adjust your expectations…
Great expectations not only set you up for disappointment, but they will also set you up for guilt, frustration, and resentment.
Set realistic expectations for both of you. Remember that she’s doing her best too, just like you.
Be kind and don’t beat yourself up! When fatigue, anxiety, or aggravation sets in, you should let yourself feel it. Take a nap if you need to, scream into a pillow if you have to, or even write it down in a journal.
Whatever it takes to let that feeling be felt, you should let it go and move on…
Acknowledge your emotions and accept all of them, including anger, sadness, frustration, loneliness, and sometimes guilt. All of them are completely normal. Seek help from a professional if you struggle to cope.
Find support groups for spousal caregivers where you can openly chat about your situation with others who are in the same position as you.
Take care of your physical and mental health. Be sure to make time for your self-care to avoid caregiver burnout.
Maintain friendships and socialize as much as possible. Plan to go out alone or together and enjoy this at least once a week.
Establish reasonable expectations.
Continue to spend time together as a couple as much as possible. Try to keep some normalcy going. Enjoy life together before your spouse become more ill, even if you need to modify your own time.
Maintain a routine but keep a daily schedule that includes time for pleasurable activities.
All the best!
Hi, I’m Lucjan! The reason why I decided to create this blog was my beautiful wife, who experienced a lot of pain in life, but also the lack of information about endometriosis and fibromyalgia for men…