It’s no secret that health complications can put a major strain on a relationship, especially when the accompanying emotional, physical and financial stressors start to take a toll. The Real Housewives of Orange County's Tamra Judge has been very open about the struggles she's faced after her husband developed a serious heart arrhythmia — Eddie Judge will soon be facing his third ablation in one year (in addition to his prior ablations and cardioversions).
Personal Space spoke to David Cantu, a relationship coach at Life Coach Austin, to learn how to be a supportive partner in the face of an unexpected crisis, and how to prepare ahead in case of future complications. “We all know the meaning of empathy, but actually implementing it requires great self-awareness and sometimes suffering along with a sick partner,” Cantu says. Here are the steps we see Tamra take and that this relationship coach says help create a foundation of empathy, support and understanding.
Approach Crisis as a Partnership
Say to yourself: "This is happening to us both.” Cantu advises that battling an illness as a team will make the situation easier to handle. Attending doctors’ appointments together, researching and taking notes for your partner can assist the treatment as well as ease some stress. Things are a lot less scary when you feel like you are not facing it alone.
Maintain Open Communication
Both partners should practice vulnerability. Expressing oneself during the trauma can be challenging, but learning to articulate your feelings while processing what is happening in the moment will foster understanding of what each person is going through and their needs along the way.
Find Spiritual Support
Regardless of specific beliefs, a couple should look for help beyond directly managing the illness. “It's important to look for and find other avenues of closeness, intimacy and joy,” Cantu suggests. Anything that soothes the heart and mind will be helpful, such as learning or practicing meditation, prayer or yoga. This is especially useful when you can't maintain the lifestyle with your partner that you've become accustomed to.
Even if you've been lucky enough to not face a major health crisis with someone you love, being prepared will make the situation much easier to deal with should it ever arise. Make sure you have insurance in case of emergencies and put energy into your own emotional, financial, physical, and mental well being, so you are in a good place should anything unfortunate happen. Also, make sure you have people in your network that you can rely on in addition to your partner — when life gets tough, the people you've invested your time and energy with are the ones who will most likely be there for you as well.
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