Help me help my husband

janey mae
By janey mae Latest Reply 2013-10-28 10:41:44 -0500
Started 2013-10-24 21:18:52 -0500

I'm looking for some advice on how to offer better support to my diabetic husband. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 4 years ago. He was 29 years old at the time. He has also been diagnosed with depression and takes an antidepressant in addition to metformin, Lantus, mealtime Novolog, a statin, and heartburn medications. We have a 4 year old son.

I've been very frustrated because I feel he is not trying as hard as he could to change his lifestyle. He was raised on a typical midwestern meat-and-potatoes diet and is having a very hard time making better choices. My mom is a type 1 diabetic who is also a registered dietitian and diabetic educator, so I've been schooled in nutrition my entire life. I make most of the meals that we eat together, and I feel that we eat fairly well when we eat together, though he almost always refuses vegetables. When we're not together at meals, he tends to eat fast food, frozen pizza, etc. I try not to keep any junk food in the house for his benefit, but sometimes I find empty bags of chips or candy. He has problems with portion control as well to the point where I wonder if he might have an eating disorder. There have been periods when he will join a gym and exercise there, but these tend to last only a few months if that. I've recently been working out more, and I feel great. I've tried to talk him into coming to work out with me; no luck.

He's very close-lipped about drs. visits, and I think he may be skipping some of the recommended follow-up. I went to the initial diabetes education as well as the insulin education with him, and he's just simply refusing to accept their advice regarding diet and exercise. I suspect his diabetes is not well-controlled, and his depression may not be either. He's never seen a therapist or anyone with a psychiatry background, just GPs and internists that have prescribed a series of antidepressants.

His disease has really affected our relationship. I feel like he's not really trying to manage his disease and is ignoring possible serious complications. I worry I'll be raising our son alone in a few years. When I talk to him about it, he always promises to do better, but I've seen no real change.

So…I'd love to hear some examples of ways your spouses encourage and support you. What attempts at support are annoying or counter-productive? If you have been diagnosed with depression, how did that affect your ability to manage your diabetes and what did you do about it?

9 replies

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-10-27 20:34:11 -0500 Report

Hey janey mae,

I see that you have received some really good advice from some real experts in living with diabetes.

What I would encourage you to do is to be quietly and gently supportive with your husband. Show him how much you love him in words and in deed, every day. Avoid scolding him or trying to tell him what to do. As I always say, we can't control how other people choose think, feel, or behave.

But also, quietly and gently, remind him of how much you care about him, and how concerned you are that he doesn't always take good care of himself. Remind him that if he takes car of himself, he can feel at his best, and be there for you and your son in the best way possible.

Have the two of you talked to his doctor, or to a diabetes educator, together? This might be a good conversation to have. Team up with him on his self-care, if he will let you.

I would also encourage you to encourage him to attend counseling, on his own, or with you. He could use some support, and so could you. You might also want to consider getting some support on your own if he won't go with you. Care for the caregiver.

Glad you are here. Let us know how you're doing, my friend.


tinkerbell54 2013-10-28 10:41:44 -0500 Report

WE I am one who has diabetes type2 & my hubby always reminds me that I don't need it . I know the we crave sugar or chocolate at times. U should not treat Ur hubby like he is a child & that he does not need sugar or candy. there is sugar free candy& coco mix to for us diabetics .Ruth Tinkerbell54

kimfing 2013-10-25 20:10:34 -0500 Report

I am so sorry and thank you for trying to be a team player in his care. My husband has been type 1 for 30+ yrs, been married 21 yrs. I am newly diagnosed type 1. For the first 1/2 of marriage, I didn't participate in his care until one day his dr. said if you want to see your daughter graduate HS, then you need to take better care of yourself. That woke him up and we went to an educator together and I went to his Dr. appts with him (I insisted and he grumbled) Now we go to our appts together since we are both diabetic. Keep trying to be a part of his care and go to appts with him so you know what you are up against and not in the dark. Maybe a Dr. will scare him like they did my hubby. Good luck !!!! Keep your head up

Annity 2013-10-25 16:02:41 -0500 Report

Hi, to start with, kudos to you. You are doing everything right. I was diagnosed 3 years ago, was very active prior to that, and could/would eat anything and everything, as little or as much as I wanted.
For me, the adjustment has been difficult, mostly mentally, and enormously bruising to my ego. (Used to be a Ballroom Dance Instructor/Prof Competitor). So yes, I do cheat, take enough insulin, everything will be fine, right? Of course I know that's not true, but we are always our own worst enemy.
Seeing the results of uncontrolled diabetes, (and smelling it) the rotting teeth, body parts, blindness- sorry if I've offended anyone, is vastly sobering. i used to work in dietary in a big hospital, so, yes I've seen it. My first year being diagnosed was in and out of the hospital 8, yes 8 times. Week long stays. I guess I might be borderline depressive- more factors at work besides DM. My mother is not very supportive, and controls the household. (Kitchen)
Hopefully your husband is just going thru the anger and denial thing like I am. What to do? I am not sure. Tough love? Don't know. I know for me, the more anyone tries to push me in one direction, the more defiant I become behind closed doors.
I really like the other posts, all of it's true. And great advice. Bottom line, it is up to us. And, yeah, if he and your Mom get along well, that is a great way to approach the situation. Most importantly, he should think of doing it for your son. It's about your boy, ultimately. Should he have to look forward to a Dad who is really beat up from this in the long run? Hmm. I don't have kids, but I think I'm preaching to myself…
Good luck! Hope he can get on top of this thing!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-10-25 10:43:34 -0500 Report

Janey, you have a hard road ahead of you. First and foremost, you cannot change anyone. Your husband is the only one who can make the change. He has to decide to change his lifestyle to eat a healthy meal. Part of his problem could be is that he refuses to fully accept that he has to change his eating habits and that he is diabetic. This could be a part of the reason that he is depressed. You can keep the healthy foods in the house but you can't stop him from buying the junk food.

You also have to stop being the "Food Police" that alone is frustrating to the diabetic. Food police got on my nerves so bad I had to put a stop to it for my own sanity. Once I got in control, my doctor gave me a "Free from Diabetes Day". One day out of the week, I could eat whatever I wanted. The first day, I had a candy bar and chips. But then I figured, I could eat what I wanted but I noticed it wasn't junk food.

I would have him sit down with your mom. Just the two of them and have her talk to him. She can help him come up with foods he can eat and be healthy and she can add in treats with the understanding that he can have them based on his numbers.

He needs to be motivated to take care of himself. Motivation is the key to being diabetic. Take the focus of the food, the fact that he is diabetic and put it in other interest. If you constantly talk about what he eats, the junk food is his comfort zone. Being supportive can be tiresome for you when he isn't listening to you. It is frustrating to him because he is tired of hearing it. He may be feeling like you are treating him like your 4 yr old. Find things the two of you can do that is fun and exciting. He has to want to life his life and be healthy and happy. He also has to learn what can happen if he doesn't take care of himself.

Over time he won't need as much support and he will be able to become self motivating. Give him the love and support he needs but don't be cloying with the support. Diabetes is only hard on the diabetic if they make it hard for themselves. Good luck to you.

Young1s 2013-10-25 04:32:40 -0500 Report

Hello Janey. Phew…you have certainly got a lot to work with. This disease is so hard on the lifestyle that it does become overwhelming. I don't think that you said that you are a diabetic yourself but if not then look at it from mine and others stantpoint, then maybe you will understand your hubby's as well.

At first we have to come to grips with the fact that we now have this disease. A disease that, no matter what we do, or how we maintain, it will be with us for the rest of out lives. A disease that I had to make my youngest understand that even though it isn't like cancer, it is still a deadly disease if not treated properly.

We also have to come to grips with the fact that the way we enjoyed foods, sans diabetes and then after. Question is are we gonna change? It's a matter of life prolonged comfortably or life lived with complications. Serioisly, one or the other.

Here's my take on the whole thing. I'm a lover of life. Whether it's for my family or myself, because it changes daily. But what ever my motivation, the thing is, I have motivation. Whether it is just to say that I have a new day to start over, whether it is to try to do what it is that I was suppose to do yesterday, etc…, the things is, I wake with a purpose. It's not that hard.

I already have my purpose in mind today, do you?

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-10-25 10:47:40 -0500 Report

Young, very good post. Once you come to grips with the diabetes, things can become easier. There is always a bright light at the end of the tunnel. You have to be motivated and find your niche in life.

People say being diabetic is hard. It really isn't. It is only hard if you choose to make it hard. I don't make that choice because there are so many other things I want to do in life. You have to have a purpose, set goals and attain them. You have to be able to depend on yourself when you don't have a support system. More importantly, you have to want to live healthy and happy. Once you make that choice, everything else falls into place.

ChandaMacall 2013-10-25 02:16:40 -0500 Report

I think if your a type 2 diabetic your really lucky. At Least he has the opportunity to change his life around. I would just remind him that even though life is hard with diabetes at least he has a chance to change unlike a lot of us out there. I'd be grateful.