Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How Cancer Affects Your Relationship

From an article on ABC News:

How Cancer Affects Your Relationship by Casey Gueren

"Jennie Bushnell and her husband Dan had been together six years when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Since she was pregnant with their second child and they chose to delay treatment until after the baby was born, they didn't tell their families right away.
"We were each other's only confidant," says Jennie. "We were each other's only shoulder to lean on, because we didn't know what our future would be at that point."
From then on their bond got even stronger—through endless doctors appointments and six months of treatment.
According to new research, leaning on your partner during this time really can bring you closer. Among couples facing early-stage breast cancer, dealing with the illness as a team was associated with greater intimacy, according to a recent study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
From Illness to Intimacy
In this particular study, pairs who talked about how cancer was affecting them as a couple and truly listened to each other had greater intimacy at the follow up. That was also the case for Jennie and her husband who were spending even more time together than usual given all of her doctor's appointments. They talked about the cancer, practical things like insurance and wills, the new addition they planned to put on their house, and the vacations they wanted to take with their kids.
"It was a distraction, but I think we felt life if we thought long and hard enough about all the good things, they would just fall into place that way," says Jennie.
Aside from planning, they also retained their sense of normalcy—another factor that predicted intimacy in the study......"
From Barbara:
In my experience, couples who have lousy communication patterns before the illness continue to have lousy communication after the illness.
Unless they actively, consciously learn how to change their communication style to one in which there is greater listening, greater empathy, greater honesty, and less emphasis on only problem solving and at least a few less hours of TV watching (unless, of course, it's Showtime's Homeland).
But with attention and some guidance, couples can indeed become closer through illness than they were before illness entered their lives.
What has been your experience?

1 comment:

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

We grew closer once we realized how much we need one another. His age, 73, and my poor health combined to give us multiple chances to take care of each other. Our communication skills improved as we learned what works best for the ill one.