Diabetes and Relationships

Having type 2 diabetes significantly changes your life and most certainly affects relationships, whether you’re single or married. Proper diabetes management requires a lot of attention and focus, not only from diabetic individuals but also from the people around them. Diabetes will surely have some effect on the relationships —In some cases, the effects may be small —but for others— diabetes can be an impending source of friction. It is important as to how we deal with the pressures of diabetes —that can make a real difference to the relationships that diabetics share with others, be it their spouse, friends, family, work colleagues or any of their acquaintances.

Emotional Impact of Diabetes on relationships

People diagnosed with diabetes may experience a wide range of emotions, including fear, anger, depression, denial and guilt. The emotional aspect of diabetes is just like a roller coaster with significant mood highs and lows. These emotional outbursts may significantly affect their relationships with their near and dear ones. For example—

  1. Being diagnosed with diabetes can be a traumatic moment and coming to terms with it can be a long process. Sometimes, even years after being diagnosed a diabetic might be asking him or herself —“why did this happen to me?” Such people often tend to become depressed and may turn abusive or otherwise totally introvert and reserved by limiting their acquaintances.
  2. The emotional strain of dealing with diabetes can cause stress and anxiety, as well as communication difficulties that can lead to dysfunction in relationships.
  3. Then there is the fear of complications of diabetes as the diabetic person may feel vulnerable at times. They can be tempted to withdraw themselves from reality and get isolated from others.
  4. Some people are very sensitive to hypoglycemia and may not know how to react. Sometimes they may react absurdly during and after episodes. I consider that —–patience and healthy communication is the key to vent out the emotional burden. Whether one or both partners in a relationship have diabetes, there are things that both of them can do to remain open and loving and strengthen their emotional bond, which in turn will help them navigate the changes that diabetes requires.

Physical problems that may affect a relationship

Diabetics face a wide variety of problems affecting nearly every major body system. For instance — it raises the risk of developing high blood pressure, which puts further strain on your heart. There are kidney damage or vision damage possibilities if diabetes is uncontrolled. Constant fears may lead to stress and anxiety which may lead to sudden anger outbursts. People with diabetes tend to experience a decreased libido or the inability to be aroused, or be unable to have an orgasm. These problems can be caused because of circulation problems, medications, hormone imbalances, or nerve damage. Problems with intimacy can cause strife in a relationship. Women can get vaginal dryness with diabetes around menopause. This can result in painful intercourse. Men can have erectile dysfunction. In such situations— this may affect the level of desire a couple has for each other—– leading to many problems in the relationship.

For the solution—-I believe that—the best thing to do in this case—is to talk about it to each other and to get help. Sometimes it is good to discuss these issues with your physician as he can definitely suggest remedies. There are many medications on the market that can help men and women to make sexual intercourse more enjoyable. Hormone replacement therapy may help, and a woman can discuss these issues with her doctor or gynaecologist. Managing diabetes can help to keep the complications in check and such individuals can have a perfectly normal life and relationships.

The Financial Burden of Diabetes:

Other relationship issues can be the finances—-due to the high cost of medical care for a diabetic. Just like any other type of chronic illness is expensive, diabetes can be pretty draining on the pockets. It is a lifelong disease that will always have costs associated with it. The earlier the disease occurs, the more spending is associated with it. Also, the longer you have the disease, the more complications that you may develop from it. Again—If diabetes is out of control, then the financial burden can become great as health deteriorates and the complications of diabetes set in. The long term complications can indeed be devastating to patients and families and pose an undue financial burden.

Though managing diabetes is a costly affair—and can lead to frustrations and stress regarding money management—-these are for your own good. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping sugar levels in control and getting regular check-ups can help to keep complications—-and their costs—away. Sometimes generic medications are also available which are of significantly lower costs. Ask your physician about it—-they will definitely help with such low-cost options.

Living with Diabetes: How to Maintain your Relationships:

See—Diabetes is a difficult and frustrating disease—and it is bound to have hurdles. Just remember that having a good support system is the key to success. You must always remember that your disease affects your relationships—-so—to make constructive progress there should be constant positive support between the partners. Having a positive foundation of support in your relationships is a crucial component of taking care of your health.

Now—the question arises—How can you be supportive without being overbearing? Any chronic illness can be a stress on a relationship. Diabetes is no different. So what are some of the ways that we can be supportive for our partner with diabetes without making them feel like we are constantly nagging—– One thing that we can do is that we can let go. We can accept the things that we can change, and at the same time, we should also accept the things that we cannot change. We can be there for support of our partner with diabetes, but we cannot make them do anything that they do not want to do.

In this way, one should understand that we cannot control the other person, and respect that they are a human being capable of making decisions. Even if those decisions do not necessarily go along with what may feel correct, we should allow them to make their own decisions with respect to their diabetes.

Tips to Maintain Healthy Relationships while Dealing with Diabetes:

Apart from the sturdy support system—I would like to summarize some other coping techniques to maintain healthy relationships initiating right after diabetes diagnosis and for years afterwards:

  • Firstly, talk to each other

Adjusting to life with diabetes is difficult for the patient and partner. Talk about what you’re afraid of, what you’re angry about and what you need from your partner — and be sure to answer your partner’s questions. For people with diabetes struggling in their marriage or relationship, I suggest —educating the partner and talking openly about your needs is important. Sometimes a small chat can just show him or her– ways to resolve the relationship issues.

  • Secondly, have a support system for yourself

Having someone to talk to —who is experiencing the same challenges as you are — can be relieving and a great way to exchange ideas on how to cope. At-home support to people with diabetes or their family members can be a valuable help for both partners in a relationship. They can help them in getting time while adapting to a changed lifestyle due to diabetes.

  • Then, find ways to relieve stress

Dealing with diabetes can add a complex level of stress to a relationship, so find time to relax. Choose an activity or hobby that you enjoy, together or alone, and regularly make time to forget about your troubles and have a little fun.

  • Visit your physician–It is important to know about diabetes

As this helps to better understand diabetes and adjust to the new reality. People in a relationship with diabetics can learn about what their partners are facing and what they both need to do to manage diabetes.

  • Lastly, commit to lifestyle changes together

This is another important step in adjusting any relationship to accommodate the need for a healthier lifestyle. When you alter your lifestyle as well, it makes it easier for the diabetic person to stick with their improved habits.

 Concluding Remarks: 

In the end, I would say that relationships are precious—don’t let diabetes make you lose them! It is always beneficial to work on a commitment that you have made to another person. Though I would not deny that — chronic illness and all the stress that goes along with it—-can strain any relationship. But the main thing is to keep the lines of communication wide open and have mutual respect for one another. I hope that with these tips and advice, you will definitely feel less stress on your relationship due to diabetes of your loved one, and enjoy a satisfying life.

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