Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seven Myths About Couples and Illness

I first blogged the 7 myths on this list a year ago. Since then I have stumbled over several more which I'll post over the next few weeks.

I eagerly invite you to add your own myths to the list.

7 Myths About Couples & Illness:
  1. Love is all you need (sorry, not true John Lennon)
  2. It's better to keep busy and not dwell on the illness (sometimes yes and sometimes no. Partners need to cue each other when they need distraction and when they need to talk about illness)
  3. Talking about suicide only makes the possibility of doing it stronger (if your partner alludes to suicide and you ignore it, those self destructive feelings won't go away; they'll only go underground)
  4. It's better to face the harsh truth rather than sustain fading hope (no one has the inside track on truth or hope)
  5. If you cater to your ill partner's needs, you'll be fostering an unhealthy dependency (the dance of couples and illness is about perpetually seeking a balance between meeting each others' needs and supporting each others' strengths and autonomy)
  6. Illness trumps intimacy. If one of you is sick and in discomfort, sex drops off the list (intimacy does not de facto equal intercourse. You and your partner need to talk about what is comfortable and what is not)
  7. If your partner is sick it's your obligation, your vow, to stay by his/her side, no matter what (this is a very painful issue, and there is no one size fits all answer. Some couples stay together through illness and find new dimensions of loving; some couples stay together and make each other sicker, or at least miserable; some couples who separate find that the physical distance permits greater emotional closeness).

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