Managing diabetes can be a challenge. It impacts various areas of your life. It can shape your schooling, work life, and how you approach sports. However, there’s one area where diabetes management can have its most damaging impact: relationships.
You’re under stress already. You must manage your blood sugar levels, consider any potential insulin injections and medications, and confer regularly with your doctors. Therefore, adding a relationship on top of this is often too much for some. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to take control of both.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Relationship
In any relationship, the foundational step is to build an environment of understanding and trust. Moving forward from this foundation can help you create a robust connection that can withstand any challenge.
Start by asking your partner if they have any questions about diabetes and how it affects your life. They might want to know how often you require insulin shots. Or how your condition impacts your mood on a day-to-day basis.
This process can help give them an insight into the steps you have to take to manage your diabetes. Discuss any concerns you have about your health with your partner. Try to be as open and honest as you can.
The Emotional Impact of Diabetes on Relationship
There’s no getting around it: Diabetes can significantly affect your mental health. A study in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics outlined that almost 25% of those with diabetes suffer from depression.
Additionally, research published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that 40% of patients with diabetes experience anxiety.
To navigate the ups and downs of a relationship, your partner must understand the impact of diabetes on your mental health. And you both have unique coping mechanisms for handling the additional stress this might cause within your relationship.
Discuss the Practical Elements of Diabetes Management
As you build your relationship together, you will establish a routine and learn to understand one another. Moving forward, make sure that you discuss the practical elements involved in effective diabetes management. These elements might include:
You may pay out of pocket for some additional forms of diabetes treatment. Ensure that you and your partner discuss finances and how any further treatment might impact your financial health.
You might wish to speak with a financial advisor together to go over your plan and consider strategies, such as building a monthly medical savings plan into your budget.
When planning time away with your partner, you will have to consider how best to manage your diabetes during this time. Ensure that you both know where to find the closest medical care centre. Discuss how you plan to manage your diabetes on the trip.
For example, you might have to take additional medical supplies with you, and you may have to organize your vacation activities around your medication and meal schedule. However, remember that vacations can be a time for some small indulgences. So, bring some treats with you. Dark chocolate, for example, may be a great choice for that upcoming lavish vacation. Plan with your partner and choose a few treats for your vacation. Your partner’s active role in this process can help them to avoid becoming the food police and ensure you retain autonomy over your vacation indulgences.
There are many long-term health challenges associated with diabetes. Make sure that you two discuss these potential health challenges. Your partner should be comfortable with the road ahead and in taking on a carer role while helping you navigate your health needs.
As your partner begins to understand the practicalities of diabetes management, you can strengthen the connection between one another. Letting them into your world can open new avenues for your personal growth.
Seek Outside Support
Remember – you don’t have to face this issue alone. There are many outside resources available to help you both move forward as you manage your diabetes and hone your connection to each other.
Turn to a Health-Coach
A health coach is an advisor. They will listen to your challenges and provide you with guidance for the road ahead. Health coaches usually have a background in medical care and can help you understand your diabetes care needs while also discussing your relationship. They can provide you with clear strategies for navigating complex relationship issues and ensure you remain focused on your personal and health goals.
Connect with Friends and Family
Your support network will be vital in managing your diabetes and establishing a framework for success within your relationships. Your friends and family know you best. They know when you’re simply in a bad mood and when there’s more to the problem. Family and friends can also speak with you and calm you down when a relationship problem impacts your mental health.
Build Your Lifestyle Together
Managing your diabetes involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating a healthy diet. Your partner can play a pivotal role within this process and take the journey with you.
To involve your partner in your healthy lifestyle, you might craft delicious and nutritious meals with them at home. Or you could take up a new physical activity together.
Optimize your schedule by including activities that are both interesting and beneficial for managing your diabetes.
For example, you might go running together after work or take a long walk across the city. Give your partner an active role in this process so you can make decisions about your exercise routine together.
Consider a healthy cooking class. You can take your partner with you to a local restaurant and take on a series of classes together. The process will help you learn more as you discover how to create delicious meals that will form a central element of your diet at home.
Communication Helps Retain the Connection
Take the time to communicate and help them understand your life with diabetes. You can then build a life within which diabetes management is just one element of a much broader and more rewarding everyday living experience.
Penckofer, Sue, Quinn, Lauretta, Byre, Mary, Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, “Does Glycemic Variability Impact Mood and Quality of Life?” April 2012, Accessed: August 20, 2021.
Grigsby, Allison B., Anderson, Ryan J., Freedland, Kenneth E., Clouse, Ray E. Journal of Psychosomatic Research December 2002, “Prevalence of anxiety in adults with diabetes: A systematic review”, December 2002, Accessed: August 19, 2021.