The people you love live with your pain too. Although they can't feel your pain, they watch you suffer and then they suffer too. They may feel inadequate when they can't help or frustrated when their suggestions don't make a difference. They may miss the “old you” and feel depressed. Your loved ones may sometimes feel annoyed or even angry; sometimes your pain may feel like it is in charge of both of you. Sometimes they feel lost too.
Take Care of Love
A reader recently wrote:
“So much of the focus of daily life is on me and my pain problem, I forget about how hard it must be for my wife. I try to make a special effort to let her know what she means to me. I guess I try to take care of our love. That matters more than anything.”
What does it mean to “take care of love”? That is a difficult question. I have listed a few strategies that seem to be helpful. My ideas probably won't surprise you, but they may remind you of how you have loved your people in the past. Take stock of your relationships. If some of them need special care, these suggestions may get you back on track.
- Kindness and warmth – sometimes it is easy to skip this part of a long-standing relationship. But, a kind word, a gentle tone, a touch, or taking the
time to listen shows that you care.
- Taking the other person's perspective – try to understand your loved one's point of view, how they see things, what they feel, what worries them, what makes them happy, what triggers depression. Show that you care about who they are and what they need.
- Communication – direct communication is generally the best. Try to convey ideas as clearly as possible and work to understand what is being said to you. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions, reading people's minds, or assuming you know what was “really” meant.
- Show affection – we all love to receive affection and giving it feels good too.
- Have fun – do some fun things every week. They don't need to be expensive or elaborate or even time-consuming. Having fun is mostly a state of mind.
- Be respectful – saying “please”, “thank-you”, and “I am sorry” shows that you care and respect each other.
- Give top priority to your relationships. Love matters.
About the Author. Dr. Linda Ruehlman is a social/health psychologist and researcher, co-founder of Goalistics, and Director of the Chronic Pain Management Program, an interactive site that helps people with chronic pain to manage their pain and live richer, more effective lives.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is provided as an educational and informational resource only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional psychological or medical advice.