Navigating my marriage while I was also navigating my newly diagnosed chronic illness was a, let’s say, interesting experience.
I’m lucky in that my marriage is quite strong. After more than 13 years together, even with the ebbs and flows that are natural to any relationship, we’ve managed to stay close. But that doesn’t mean it was easy when I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
It was hard to communicate exactly how much I was struggling with my diagnosis and the physical and mental symptoms that went along with it. We faced quite a bit of stress surrounding my diagnosis, much of it stemming from my huge lack of energy, and my fear in communicating just how much I was struggling and how I was feeling about everything.
So, what are the main issues that affect our relationships when we have Hashimoto’s, or any chronic illness?
A big factor in navigating your relationship through your autoimmune journey is a potential lack of understanding. Oftentimes, it can be hard for someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness to be able to understand exactly what you’re going through. But just because they don’t understand what you’re going through on a day-to-day basis doesn’t mean that they aren’t still supportive of you. They may just not realize the full toll that your illness is taking on you.
As part of a lack of understanding, you may have a fear of admitting just how bad you actually feel, which could further exacerbate the underlying lack of understanding. You might think, as I did, that they’ll think you’re defective. You might fear that they’ll leave you for someone who is healthier, or that they won’t support you if you stop putting on the exhausting front that we tend to rely on, to hide our true suffering.
This then leads into a lack of energy, which can also have a huge effect on your relationship. This could manifest as a lack of energy for talking or having long conversations, lack of energy for going out on dates, or even a lack of energy for intimacy or sex. This lack of energy, however it presents itself, can feel like it is driving a wedge through your relationship, and could ultimately lead to disagreements or arguments.
As these three factors continuously pile up, you may start feeling as though you’re losing your connection with your partner. You’re so involved in trying to get healthy that you neglect or don’t focus enough on your relationship. It can turn into a vicious circle if we’re not careful to address these issues.
There are ways to start addressing these underlying factors that bring stress to our relationships, and I did a training on this over in our community
. I hope you’ll join us over there to learn more.