A hard question: Does your self-care routine ever leave your partner feeling ignored?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2017-01-11 12:05:05 -0600
Started 2016-12-18 11:26:19 -0600

I know the title of my article is kind of blunt. But let me start by saying I didn’t make it up. Instead, it came from a conversation I was having with a couple who needed to talk about what was going on – and what wasn’t going on – in their marriage.

I’ll refer to them as Jack and Laura. Jack was diagnosed with a chronic condition a few years ago. As a result, he has a lot of self-care responsibilities, which greatly impact his life. And as a result, Laura’s life.

During our conversation, Laura described a recent day that had left her feeling especially frustrated. She had picked their children up from daycare on her way home from work. They arrived to find Jack in his and Laura’s bedroom, with the door closed. When she asked him if he was okay, he informed her that he wanted to spend the evening alone to rest and do some research on a new treatment that interested him. The next day, Saturday, Jack had scheduled a session with a practitioner of natural medicine, and wasn’t able to help Laura with the kids.

Laura talked about how frustrated she felt. “I know your health needs to be a priority,” she said to him. “But what about us?” She went on to say that she would be happy to sit down next to him while he surfs the web for treatment information. And couldn’t that Saturday session have been scheduled for another day?

I often talk to clients about the importance of taking responsibility for their health. But I also saw how Laura felt sidelined, and left to do the heavy lifting at home.

Here’s a link to a recent article:


Have you and your partner ever felt like Jack and Laura? Do you find it hard to make your health a priority while still give your partner the attention he/she needs? And do you feel your partner always understand when you need to make your health a priority?

Really looking forward to hearing from you on this one!

26 replies

cmr55 2017-01-10 18:54:22 -0600 Report

I asked hubby your questions. He said No excuse he has even part of the process from the beginning. He went with me to the doctors; the diabetic educator. He researched with me healthy meals. He understands that you can eat the same meals two days in a row and that bs could be different. It can depend on sleep, exercise stress etc. He is a great partner.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-01-11 12:05:05 -0600 Report

Hey cmr55, thanks a lot for sharing this with us. Great to hear you have such an incredible teammate! An inspiration!

ollibbey 2016-12-28 19:19:31 -0600 Report

Hi Dr Gary
My husband is not sensitive to my needs and my illness I just think that he is just sick of me being sick as well as our type 1 daughter. He works long hours and I'm sure it is hard to come home to someone else who doesn't feel well . I must also say he is a type 2diabetic that should actually be type 1 but can't be on insulin because of the job he has so he is not feeling well either…

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-01-09 22:53:21 -0600 Report

Hi ollibbey, I am so glad you checked in. It's really great to meet you, and I am glad you found your way to us. So sorry to hear about your husband's attitude toward the health issues you and your daughter are facing. You bring up a good point, it sounds like he isn't feeling well either. I am sorry you are all dealing with so much. It might help to sit down and have a talk about what you can do to help each other. But I do hope you are getting some emotional support from other family members or friends. Stay in touch with us. You are not alone!

sweetslover 2016-12-24 13:39:04 -0600 Report

With several chronic problems, I have days when I just do not thonk I can function properly. My husband is very understanding and supportive, but I feel a lot of guilt that I am not always bright and cheerie. There are just too many days that are like that. I try hard not to complain, but it seems like I cannot get a handle on my emotions. I know it pulls him down to see me like this, and he always asks me what he can do to help. I need a better answer than "I don't know".

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-12-24 18:03:59 -0600 Report

Hey sweetslover, thanks for sharing here. I know it's hard to put on a happy face when you are having a bad day. Maybe instead of "I don't know" you can say something like "You don't have to do anything. Just be here with me, like you do so well." You husband may be feeling kind of helpless on days like that, when he sees you suffering and doesn't know what he can do. So a little reassurance from you might help. Nice to see you again.

sweetslover 2016-12-24 18:23:43 -0600 Report

Great idea, Dr. Gary. I will give it a try.

sweetslover 2016-12-27 09:23:53 -0600 Report

I am trying your suggestion and it seems to be helping. My husband is responding more positively when I tell him I just need his emotional support.

Maintanenceman1 2016-12-24 09:36:21 -0600 Report

I deal with being Type 2, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Bladder control issues that are seperate from being Diabetic, IGA Nephorpathy, The c-pap therapy has caused problem at times when my nasal mask leaks or it whistles. At times because of bladder control issues I have have to wear adult diapers at night which takes a certain couple activity out of happening. We've had other personal issues, but over all we have an excellent relationship.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-12-24 12:17:48 -0600 Report

Hey Anonymous, thanks a lot for checking in and sharing your story. I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with so much. It's good to know you have a supportive partner. Teamwork makes a big difference when you're loving with chronic conditions.

Kittiebitty 2016-12-21 18:00:19 -0600 Report

Hi Dr. Gary. My husband is actually more proactive with getting me to eat better and work out than I am! I feel I fail him sometimes because I am not as good as a diabetic as I should be. He seems to be better at being one than I am though he is not diabetic himself.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-12-23 10:38:33 -0600 Report

HI Kitty, nice to meet you. And thanks for checking in. Wow, your husband sounds like he is really watching over you. Glad to hear he is such a great support. Hope you will stay in touch with us!

Pegsy 2016-12-20 18:29:13 -0600 Report

My hubby is very patient and understanding. The only time it as been an issue is when we are traveling and need to find a "good" place to eat or I need to eat at a specific time and there are no restaurants in sight. I've learned to pack a box of food for myself, just in case. That has taken a lot of stress off.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-12-20 22:18:23 -0600 Report

Hi Pegsy, haven't been in touch with you in awhile! I can understand how some difference of opinion might come up when making a meal choice on the road. That comfort food goes down good when you are on the road, and traveling is such a great opportunity to indulge. Good idea to keep some food around that you can eat.

Consueloj 2016-12-19 15:19:08 -0600 Report

I think dealing with my kids needs takes alot more sensitivity - on both our parts.
They have come to understand that I need my time to exercise morning and evening. I don't try much to change how they are use to eating - I allow them sweets in small doses so they hopefully never feel the need to over indulge. Like I did. Hoping that Iam leading by example that taking care of ones self - puts me in a better postion to continue to take care of them.
As for hubby - well you got me to thinking so much so that I think I may initiate a more indepth conversation with him. Though I think he's OK with what and when I do what I do.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-12-20 22:16:37 -0600 Report

Hi Consuelo! It's great that your kids are aware of what you need to do to keep yourself healthy, and that you are setting such a great example for them. That's excellent. You are modeling good eating habits for them, as well as teaching them what it means to not only be taken care of, but also that parents need to take care of themselves too. And a good idea to always keep the line of communication open with your husband.

Paulsue 2016-12-19 09:35:51 -0600 Report

yes, and ever now and then he wants me to take his blood glucose reading. :D So, I do. lol he really has benefited as well from my NOT cooking elaborate meals like before. The ones that had, rice, potatoes, flour and all the foods we are not supposed to eat. :) I am happy with that so much.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-12-20 22:13:23 -0600 Report

Hey Paulsue, so you check his blood glucose once in a while, too. I like that, a nice image. I am sure he has benefitted greatly from your healthy diet. We can all benefit, it seems to me, from a diabetic-friendly diet. That's teamwork!

GabbyPA 2016-12-19 08:54:13 -0600 Report

For a long time I didn't make my health a priority even after diagnosis. I just used my family's needs to excuse my lack of discipline or fortitude. About two years ago, I sat down with the family and said, this is how it has to be. We worked on it together and we all grew healthier for it (for the most part)

What I have to deal with is feeling guilty for pushing my health needs onto them. I think that caused me to overindulge them in other ways that was not good. Guilt sucks, that is for sure.

My husband always gave me his support 100% even if he didn't really know what the exactly meant. He was always willing to help and I tried to keep him in my diabetic loop, so to speak. He would find me articles to read on diabetes and we were always looking at the latest in wheelchairs for him (THAT was fun stuff, amazing things are out there) I think because he also had chronic conditions that I helped him with, we worked it out for the most part.

Being a caregiver that needs care giving sometimes is hard. I have to admit, that sometimes frustration and feeling so much burden could run both of us down, no matter which of us was the needy one at the time.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-12-20 22:11:37 -0600 Report

Hey Gabby, thanks for sharing this. I hear this often, the person living with the chronic condition is placing themselves last in line in terms of their priorities, and placing everybody else in the home first. This can take a toll over time, that's for sure. And guilt can sure keep you stuck in that pattern. Sounds like you and your wonderful husband were totally on the same page, I am sure that took conscious effort on both sides, but it sure paid off. Speaking of guilt, caregivers are guilty of not taking care of themselves. Family members can as a result miss out on the opportunity to experience love in action.

GabbyPA 2016-12-24 14:25:57 -0600 Report

Yeah, I know that caregiver guilt very, very well. I think moms do the same thing putting the family before their needs. It is admirable to a point, but it can become self abuse really...and when you think of it that way, it is easier to shift that priority.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-12-24 18:01:21 -0600 Report

Gabby, that is a very good point. At some point not taking care of yourself is anything but admirable, and at some point it takes a toll and everybody is negatively impacted.

haoleboy 2016-12-18 14:58:53 -0600 Report

my "much better half" and I both were dealing with chronic conditions for the last 5 years of our relationship. although not the only reason, I believe it was a major contributor to our separation 1 year ago.
maintaining a personal relationship while dealing with all my issues is beyond my capability, unfortunately.

☮ Steve

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2016-12-20 22:02:51 -0600 Report

Hey Steve, I appreciate your honesty here, as always. I know it's hard to do everything it takes to stay on top of chronic conditions, and that can have an impact on your relationship. I'm really sorry to hear that. Thanks for sharing this, I am sure others can relate.