What to do when your partner has chronic fatigue? Tips from a supportive husband!
When your partner has chronic fatigue?
When your partner has chronic fatigue it may be due to many reasons. As a partner of someone who experiences it daily, I have very plenty of tips for those who care for their loved ones.
I am not talking about chronic fatigue syndrome but chronic fatigue. People mistake fatigue with chronic fatigue, and chronic fatigue syndrome, which we’ll discuss later.
Among millions of women, my wife suffers from chronic fatigue that is caused by endometriosis and fibromyalgia, two chronic illnesses that she was diagnosed with after many years of battling with doctors.
Symptoms of either of these chronic conditions make her feel tired, and in addition, chronic pain that always accompanies both conditions is really exhausting.
Chronic fatigue is just a consequence of living with a chronic illness, but having multimorbidity, fatigue becomes a major problem.
So, what can you do when your partner has chronic fatigue?
- Learn about the condition!
- Acknowledge the seriousness.
- Be supportive and open.
- Listen to your loved one…
- Set boundaries and own needs.
- Expect changes and unpredictability!
- Do less tiring things together.
- Be flexible with your support.
- Create a “new normal”…
- Improve communication.
- Get intimate when possible.
- Start a blogging business.
First, you have to learn about the condition and acknowledge the seriousness of it and learn to expect changes and unpredictability. Always be supportive and open while listening to your loved one.
At the same time, talk about your own needs and set boundaries not to burn. Be flexible with your support and do less tiring things together to help create a new normal. Try to improve your communication, and also get intimate when possible.
Lastly, start a blogging business, as it will give you freedom, time, and money.
Learn about the condition!
When your partner has chronic fatigue, the first thing you should do is learn about the condition because there is a difference between common fatigue, chronic fatigue, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is a feeling of constant tiredness and/or weakness that can be either physical, mental, or even a combination of both.
It refers to a sensation of exhaustion during or after daily activities or a lack of energy to begin these activities. Most people experience fatigue at some point in their lives.
Fatigue often results from doing too much, from a lack of sleep, or illnesses such as the common cold. It’s not extreme or persistent, it generally goes away after getting more rest or recovering from cold.
What is chronic fatigue?
Chronic fatigue occurs when exhaustion or lack of energy lasts over 6 months. Chronic fatigue is a symptom of many chronic conditions, such as the ones my wife suffers from – endometriosis and fibromyalgia.
The exact cause of chronic fatigue, however, is unknown, but often may result from infections, hormone level changes, stress, disturbances of sleep, and a combination with chronic pain and depression.
In addition, there are other factors that may contribute to chronic fatigue, including:
lack of exercise
What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
In order to be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, a person must have severe chronic fatigue for 6 months or longer. At the same time, that person must have at least four of these symptoms:
- problems with short-term memory
- problems with concentration
- tender lymph nodes
- sore throat
- muscle pain
- multiple joints pain without swelling
- discomfort after activity
Four or more of these symptoms must persist for 6 or more months, and must not have predated the fatigue. When there is no explanation or cause of chronic fatigue, such as cold, chronic fatigue syndrome is diagnosed.
Acknowledge the seriousness.
you have to acknowledge that chronic fatigue can be serious because when develops into chronic fatigue syndrome, people often stay in bed for months, even years, without getting up. Since the illness lasts for many months or years, only a small percentage of people can fully recover.
Your partner may feel tired a lot of the time and seek help from doctors, however, if they experience long-lasting fatigue, it is not chronic fatigue syndrome, so don’t get alarmed!
By validating and acknowledging the seriousness of this disease, you should know that even though healthy people experience pain and exhaustion from time to time, they don’t experience it as frequently and severely as people with chronic fatigue.
People often judge by saying things like “I get tired too”, which may cause your partner to feel that they aren’t being taken seriously.
Try to support your spouse by saying things such as “I wish I could make it better for you” or “you are handling this so well, but I know it gets you down.”
Be supportive and open.
When your partner has chronic fatigue, she/he might feel like giving up sometimes. Physical conditions impact mental health, and psychologically break the person who suffers from them. Be as supportive and open with your partner as much as possible.
Discuss your feelings with one another because you both need to be supportive of one another. Make sure that your loved one understands that you recognize how serious their illness is.
Some people think that chronic fatigue is all in the head, quite commonly doctors belong to such a bunch, such an attitude can devastate those who experience stress and fatigue.
I found that the best way to show your partner support is by going with them to doctor’s appointments and listening to what the doctor says. Always confirm your partner’s symptoms and fight neglect and ignorance. I found that being a man by my wife’s side, changed their tune immediately.
Use your judgment and ask “what can I do”, even if you know that you can’t help. The very question means a lot to your partner.
Listen to your loved one…
Honestly and truly listen to your loved one. Be as patient as the moment requires, be as caring and supportive as possible. Always keep the lines of communication open and be willing to truly listen.
I keep saying “truly” because it matters. Give your partner full attention, make them realize that you are actually listening. Avoid interrupting, even if you know the answers, as it may be perceived by your partner as insensitive and hurtful. I made that mistake, hence my advice.
Try not to get angry or let chronic fatigue-related issues control your discussion. Remember, your loved one may be experiencing at the time “brain fog” – memory impairment.
If you notice frequent distractions, suggest that your partner write down notes during such conversation.
Set boundaries and own needs.
It sounds drastic and rude, well, it isn’t. It has to be done because when your partner has chronic fatigue due to chronic illness, it is ongoing, there’s no cure to conditions such as endometriosis or fibromyalgia, hence you will be eventually affected by their illness.
If you don’t set boundaries and tell your loved one what you and your partner need to do to make it easier for you, you’ll give up, have a breakdown, or have caregiver burnout.
So, state your own needs. You should have your own time to do whatever you need to recharge your batteries. If you become ill because you do everything, you might become run down yourself, and that won’t help anyone. Take care of your needs.
I used to give my all to make my wife happy. I neglected myself totally. I stopped working out, which I love so much. It made me feel grumpy and easily irritable, which didn’t help either of us.
Only when I discussed my needs with my wife, things got better.
Expect changes and unpredictability!
When it comes to endometriosis, my wife is in pain, when it comes to fibromyalgia, my wife is in pain. Sometimes they blend together, making her feel dizzy, clumsy, forgetful, fatigued.
There was a period of time when M got up, ate breakfast, went across the street to the shop, and such a meaningless, short trip made her exhausted by 1 pm. At the time we did not know the reason why that used to happen. And it was often.
After a year or so, we realized, that my wife was iron deficient, and had severe anemia.
That was so unexpected since she ate well and took supplements, however, endometriosis and heavy, painful periods were to blame. She tried eating red meat, took iron pills, sprays, etc. She did lots of things she was supposed to in order to lift the iron levels.
Nothing helped. Only the iron infusion, that general practitioners were so against, helped. In a matter of two weeks, her energy level spiked up. She felt herself again.
So, when your partner has chronic fatigue due to endometriosis, I strongly advise she checks her blood and fight for an iron infusion. Remember, as a man, be there!
Do less tiring things together.
Look for less tiring activities and do them together. Modify such activities if necessary to accommodate your loved one’s chronic fatigue symptoms.
You can always watch Netflix or television, play board games, cook together. You may even read aloud to one another.
Play word games, listen to music, do whatever helps as long as both of you are part of it. Just be sure to keep plans and expectations flexible in order to accommodate the unpredictable symptoms and all the changes.
Your family may rent movies to view at home, you can spend that time in a larger group of people, without even going to a movie theater. Chronic illness and fatigue may reduce the time he or she can spend with other people, and that leads them to focus less on physically and mentally demanding activities.
Always remember to enjoy one another, even when your partner has chronic fatigue at the time.
Be flexible with your support.
Be flexible. Your partner will have good days and bad days, that’s how it goes. However, you never know in advance which it will be. Try to be flexible with your plans whenever possible, and try to create a backup, to have a plan B just in case.
You have to be prepared for flexibility and last-minute adjustments, which include redistribution of household tasks, increasing the load on you as the caregiver.
Because your partner will have significantly less energy than before they became chronically ill, people with chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia have less time for relationships than they had when healthy. That creates a loss of companionship and grief over that loss.
When your partner has chronic fatigue, it will present many challenges in your relationship. Try to provide comfort and support, as they are most important. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Be patient.
- Helping with chores.
- Do shopping.
- Go to their appointments.
Don’t feel that you have to “fix” problems or give advice. Many men do just that! They try to fix their partner’s health. They simply can’t. Instead, they should focus on being flexible and working on themselves. Just being there, listening, showing compassion is enough.
Be grateful for whatever your loved one gives you, and ask how you can help your loved one. Express admiration for the strength and courage they have despite the challenges of the illness.
Your loved one will definitely have mood swings due to the stress and challenges of having a chronic illness, and chronic fatigue.
Do not react to their emotional reactions personally. Try to be sensitive to your loved one’s feelings and needs and they will acknowledge it, and apologize for their reaction.
Create a “new normal”…
You will most likely have to modify goals, plans, even expectations. Both of you will try to compare the way things you used to do with your present situation. As the disease varies in severity from person to person, avoid such comparisons, especially with other people.
Adjusting expectations to a “new normal” can be difficult, as both chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia impose any limits. People with either condition (or both) typically function at 50% or less of their previous level, oftentimes, much less. Trying to do more than their bodies allow them leads to more intense symptoms.
Adjustments to the new normal include redistribution of household tasks, often increasing the load on you as the caregiver.
Your partner will have less energy than before, Long story short, the unpredictability of chronic fatigue symptoms, the energy limits, and overload, suggest the need for such adjustments.
Limited energy may force a reduction in the length or the type of shared activities. Such reduction may be replacing hiking and camping with dinner and a movie.
Your ability to understand and accept the limits brought to your life will have effects on both of you.
Improving communication is vital when your partner has chronic fatigue because serious illnesses put you both under great stress.
Good communication is one of the main casualties here, but good communication solves the issues that arise. A good strategy for nurturing your relationships is to set aside time regularly to discuss your relationship.
I often do this in a cafe, where the atmosphere is natural, or in the evening, when we often discuss life in general.
We openly listen to each other without being defensive or interrupting, we really try to put ourselves in the other’s place, trying to figure out what we feel. Such communication has worked exceptionally well for us, it may work for you too.
Pick a time when your partner will be at their best. Find a time when you can give good attention and the person you love, as they are ill, in order to avoid being distracted by pain or brain fog.
Listening, as I mentioned before is extremely important. Good listening leads to successful communication. Your goal is to fully understand your partner’s point of view.
If you are not clear about what your loved one says, you can respond after they finish by asking for clarification. You might say something like, “I’m not sure if I understood, can you tell me more?”
Get intimate when possible.
Chronic fatigue will often make your partner refuse sex. It doesn’t mean they don’t want it. It simply means they can’t. They may be exhausted or in pain. Discussing the issue will help.
Your loved one may experience reduced interest in intimacy for a number of causes. One is fear of pain or an increase in other symptoms. Quite often meds are to blame. Pain and reduced energy, affecting your intimacy, creating challenges for couples like you and your partner.
But if you experience pain, it makes you fear sex, which leads to avoidance of sex in the first place, out of fear that pain will return or worsen. It’s a vicious cycle. When sex is avoided, couples lose an important source of pleasure and intimacy, experiencing feelings like guilt, fear, and even resentment.
People in pain may feel guilty because deny pleasure to their partner. At the same time, you may feel fearful, worried that your partner may do something to intensify their pain, which ends in resentment at the loss of intimacy, and guilty for feeling resentful.
Some people find that pain interferes with their enjoyment of sex.
My wife has the most severe stage IV deep infiltrating endometriosis. This brutal chronic illness makes her anticipation of pain lead to avoidance of sex altogether, which always creates guilt for my wife who is ill.
If pain in intercourse is a major concern, you and your partner might focus on touching and cuddling. By focusing on giving mutual pleasure while in comfortable positions, you can make your intimate time together last longer and be very satisfying.
At the same time, a good warmup makes pain be minimized, so concentrate on foreplay and sensuality rather than intercourse.
The person with pain may want to avoid narcotic pain medications and even tranquilizers, all of them dull the senses as well as reduce pain. Do some stretching and massage instead.
Pain can also be reduced by changing positions that are comfortable. Comfortable positions will differ from couple to couple and are best found through experimentation.
Changing positions during sex makes controlling pain easier, especially for fibromyalgia patients, who are susceptible to greater pain when they stay in one position too long.
A final pain control approach is meditation.
The common method of reducing pain by placing attention elsewhere can be applied in sex, my wife is great at it! By focusing on sensations, and concentrating on mental images of making love keeps the mind focused on pleasure, not on pain.
Get intimate when possible.
Start a blogging business.
The very best thing you can do when your partner has chronic fatigue is to start a blog, and make it your job, a business!
Like in my wife’s case, when your partner lays in bed, fatigued and guilty of you being bored, you can kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, you have a goal, you’re not bored. Secondly, having in mind the future financial harvest from blogging, motivates you, makes you happy.
Not only will you help gazillions of people solve their problems, but it will also help your wallet when done right.
Having financial security from blogging will allow you to provide private health care for your partner, more free time to spend with each other, and pure happiness as you can retire young.
For more information about how to start a blog from A to Z, make money, and thrive, I invite you to my blogging blog part of Worry Head. You will find there everything you need to succeed as a blogger.
Wrapping it all up, remember, when your partner has chronic fatigue, it can be difficult to understand exactly what they’re going through unless you experience it yourself. Luckily for you, you don’t. But the lack of knowledge creates many challenges.
Remember rule number one – educate yourself.
Your partner may require much more time sleeping or resting than you, and may not feel up to going out often. Chronic fatigue can also inhibit your partner’s ability to work, which again, blogging solves. It can also stop them from accomplishing simple household chores, or even doing everyday things such as showering and eating.
I hope that helps, see you at the next one!
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…