Keeping Your Marriage Strong After a Diabetes Diagnosis
My husband and I began dating on October 9, 1998, during our senior year of high school. Twenty-three years later, we just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, and we have three children ages 7, 9, and 11. Though we've been through a lot in our relationship, nothing prepared us for the challenges we faced nearly three years ago.
My diabetes diagnosis in 2019
After a routine check-up in 2019, I learned I had type 2 diabetes. This new diagnosis radically changed the dynamics of my marriage and family. After my diagnosis, I suffered from depression and isolation, which affected our family, especially our marriage.
Dealing with difficult emotions
My husband has supported me since the moment I received my diagnosis. While he tried hard to stay strong for me, I knew that he struggled with difficult emotions, too. Some of his frustration arose from not knowing how to help or getting anything to work. When I became hopeless, he felt helpless.
How we keep our marriage strong
We could have easily destroyed our marriage if we continued down this path. But we continued to reach out to each other for comfort, love, and support even amid the turmoil.
Complex diagnoses and chronic illnesses can even put a strain on the strongest of relationships. However, you and your partner can get through diabetes and marriage together with proper tools and support.
Helpful tips to support your marriage
Here are some ways that my husband and I have maintained our strong marriage throughout my journey with type 2 diabetes.
Education and understanding
Learn more about diabetes, how it affects your spouse, and other relevant information to better prepare for the challenges that will arise. To better understand type 2 diabetes, connect with diabetes organizations and support groups, consult with a certified diabetes educator, read and watch content from reliable diabetes communities.
Manage diabetes together
A 2017 study found that people with type 2 diabetes reported greater adherence to their diabetic diet if their spouses understood their diets better.1 When your spouse knows the details of your diabetes management plan, they can better support your health.
To manage diabetes, spouses can commit to healthy diets and physical activity, managing stress, quitting smoking, and working together to achieve results. Following the same lifestyle choices with your partner makes managing diabetes easier.
Communication is key
Keep in constant communication with your spouse and regularly check in with each other. Don't be afraid of speaking about challenging topics. Communicate openly and honestly with your spouse, so nothing is left to chance.
Practice patience and understanding
Living with diabetes requires patience and understanding. Emotional support can help your partner feel seen and heard when they are struggling. Marriages that remain strong are reliant on the same kind of understanding and patience.
Find your support system
Although your spouse may be your primary support person, do not overlook gaining support from other family members and close friends.2 If you do not have relationships with supportive family or friends, many diabetes support groups are also available. Social connections are important to coping with your diagnosis.
You can also share your story or use the community forums to ask questions or share about a topic. There are also plentiful caregiver resources for your spouse to explore if they need more support.
A strong marriage takes work
Watching the person you love suffer from an illness can be incredibly heartbreaking. Despite illnesses, you can stay close to each other when you remain flexible, open to each other, and communicate effectively. Above all else, do not give up on your spouse; continue to love them unconditionally. After all, love conquers all.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month! Want to learn more?
Do you have a family history of diabetes?