How To Tell if You are With a Supportive Partner
Last updated: May 2023
"A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.” – Pearl S. Buck
Marriage isn't easy, as evidenced by the 50 percent divorce rate in America. But managing both a chronic illness and a marriage is even more challenging. According to a study,1 marriages in which the wife is chronically ill are more likely to end in divorce.
This doesn't mean that all marriages with chronically ill people are doomed to fail. Nor does it imply that the end of a marriage is always a bad thing; leaving a marriage that causes your health to suffer is always a good decision. However, maintaining a happy marriage means not only learning to communicate and grow with your partner but choosing a partner who makes an effort to accommodate your illness in the first place. Below are some signs of a supportive partner.
Your partner avoids your disease triggers
A huge part of living with a chronic illness is learning what can trigger a flare and then finding ways to avoid those things. For some lupus patients, triggers can be things like too much sunlight or too little rest. You might need to sleep 10 or more hours a night, or take naps or rest breaks throughout the day. You might have to wear sunscreen or avoid certain inflammatory foods. A supportive partner will recognize these triggers and be careful to help you avoid them. For example, they don't insist on going on a hike when your joints are aching and you're struggling with fatigue.
Your partner attends doctors' visits with you
A partner who stays informed about your illness is a partner who loves you and wants you to stay healthy. Your partner’s desire to learn about your illness may come in the form of reading about your illness or attending a support group with you. Your partner may also attend doctor’s visits with you. This shows that they aren't afraid of your illness, they understand that your illness is a shared challenge and that they will take an active role in helping you manage your disease and stay healthy.
Your partner chooses activities that you can do together
A partner who is empathetic towards your lupus won’t force you or make you feel guilty for being unable to participate in activities you can no longer do. A supportive partner won’t force you to go shopping for hours when your joints hurt or you’re fatigued.
But being a supportive partner also shouldn’t mean giving up activities in which the chronically ill partner can't participate. For example, a wife who loves hiking but who has a husband who uses a wheelchair shouldn’t have to permanently give up hiking. She might plan other outdoor activities in which her husband can participate, such as a picnic. She might also still enjoy hiking with her friends while her husband stays at home or goes out with his own friends.
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?