Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
April 2008 — Challenges are not a foreign concept in couples - anyone with a partner goes through them. Add hypoglycemic episodes, blood sugar highs and the emotions of it all to the mix and you've got a recipe for more interesting situations.
Whether diabetes arrives as an uninvited guest into the lives of a perfectly functional couple or it has been a part of the relationship since day one, diabetes is bound to put your relationship under significant stress.
Diabetes Comes with the "Package"
Starting when people are dating, acceptance of diabetes begins with the person who has it realizing that everyone comes into a relationship with some type of baggage. If you are the one with diabetes in the couple, try to avoid letting the feeling of guilt and the fear of turning into a burden for your relationship. While you cannot control the fact that you have diabetes, you can reduce the emotional rollercoaster associated with it by maintaining the best possible control.
You may be dating somebody who cannot deal with the ups and downs of life with diabetes. If you strongly feel this is the right person, the best thing you can do for yourself and to help your partner realize what he or she may be up to is to be clear about the realities of diabetes, as you know them.
If diabetes appears in your life as a couple after being together for a while, it may put your relationship to the test in many ways. You may find you appreciate patience from your partner every bit as much as not been lectured over meals or sugar lows. You may also want to realize that, when you get grumpy over life with diabetes, your partner is taking in a lot and may be doing his or her best.
Enter Type 3 Diabetes
Those living with and loving folks with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have earned the title of having "type 3 diabetes". When the person with diabetes is in a relationship, one of the most important type 3's becomes the partner.
My wife, the closest person with type 3 diabetes I know, shared with me some of the things she has been afraid of since I was diagnosed:
• Not doing the right thing in an emergency. • Not being a strong, steady support for me all the time. • Not noticing a low episode. • Getting mad unfairly. • Not being absolutely on top of our diet. • Especially being afraid of our 4 year-old son developing diabetes.
These are a lot of stressors keeping her en garde. But instead of letting these control her, love, hope, and determination have helped her overcome these fears. She has become more informed and better educated about diabetes to learn how to notice lows and how to react to them. She has also learned more about foods and their impact on my blood sugar, and constantly works on instilling healthy eating habits to our son. All these things make her a loving pillar for us.
Together Is Better
There are things that those of us with diabetes can do to thank the type 3's in our lives for what they do for us. We can acknowledge their effort and support and not take for granted their time and dedication in our difficult moments. We should also spend time with our loved ones beyond what they do for us as part of our diabetes management. That may mean taking a stroll together, watching a movie with them, or having a simple chat.
Talk about things. Tell your partner how you feel. Listen attentively to what your partner has to say. You may discover you were saying, doing or not doing things that were having a powerful impact without knowing. If after talking you still feel diabetes is taking a toll on your relationship, get professional help as soon as possible. Dealing with diabetes is tough enough in and of itself – talking about it with your partner is a healthy way to make the most of your dLife.
Disclaimer dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
Last Modified Date: May 29, 2013
All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
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dLife's Sex & Intimacy Content is contributed & moderated by
Janis Roszler MSFT, RD, CDE, LDN
Janis Roszler, MSFT, RD, CDE, LD/N is the American Association of Diabetes Educators' 2008-2009 Diabetes Educator of the Year. She is a certified diabetes educator, marriage and family therapist, and registered dietitian. Her books include Sex and Diabetes (ADA) Diabetes on your OWN Terms (Marlowe & Co) and The Secrets of Living and Loving with Diabetes (Surrey books).
Donna Rice MSW, BSN, RN, CDE
Donna Rice MBA,RN,CDE,FAADE is the 2007 Past President of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She is a registered nurse, diabetes educator and has developed numerous educational programs on sexual health and wellness. She is the co-author of Sex and Diabetes (ADA) and Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction - A Quick ‘n' Easy Handbook For the Diabetes Educator (Bella Vita). Her newest publication is a children's book, The Magic is Me (Searchlight Press).