Being in a relationship with someone with diabetes can be a special challenge!
Alicia: UnLeashed! February 2019 monthly article
We all know relationships are hard. We all know that living with diabetes is hard. So being in a relationship with someone with diabetes can be a special challenge!
Back in the 90s Gary Chapman wrote a pretty great book on relationships and communication called The 5 Love Languages. The premise is that there are 5 “languages” that allow us to give and receive love: quality time, physical touch, gift giving, acts of service, and words of affirmation. Figuring out the preferred love language of those you love helps you show them love in the most meaningful way for them, and to better understand how they are showing you love.
What might it look like to put this language through a diabetes filter?
Quality time- One thing we can give, that we will never have more of is time. This makes the giving of your time precious to someone who’s primary love language is quality time. That might look something like:
Attend diabetes education classes, JDRF walks, conventions or other events with your loved one! Even search them out!
Give your loved one time to learn! Help them attend a diabetes camp or other event!
help them SAVE time, make the calls to the insurance company to battle for coverage, or run out and pick up prescriptions when they’re busy and your quality time might be otherwise limited.
Physical touch- Diabetes is something that happens in our bodies, but it can really impact how we view, treat and share our bodies too! For someone who deeply values physical touch, it can hurt when their loved one avoids the physical manifestations of life with diabetes. You can show that person love and support by:
Learn how to do the physical management of diabetes.
How do infusion sites/CGMs insert, disconnect and remove?
How to test blood sugar and use a glucometer
How to do injections
Everyone who loves someone with diabetes needs to know how to administer glucagon in an emergency
*How to disconnect an infusion set. Stopping the flow of a moment to disconnect can be a downer, but having someone else who knows your needs enough to be able to disconnect can be special
*WARNING, never disconnect your partner without their express consent! That’s attempted manslaughter and that’s a REAL downer!!!*
Gift giving- giving a gift that speaks directly to your loved one’s diabetes can be a great way to show them that you recognize the hard work they’ve put in, and their commitment to their wellness, some ideas are:
A nice pouch to hold supplies,
Good chocolate, skip that sugar free junk
A donation to an organization that is important to them
Education! From books, to time with us at Integrated Diabetes!
Acts of service- An act of service tells your loved one that you recognize the work they put in, and want to partner with them to reach the goal! Some great ways to show this support include:
Grabbing the glucometer when you hear the CGM low alert
Calling in or picking up refills on meds and supplies
Gather supplies for infusion site changes or CGM sensors
Do household chores that they might normally have done to give them time to take care of diabetes related tasks.
Words of affirmation- From judgemental doctors and peers, to negative self talk, a positive word can go a LONG way to brightening the day of people living with diabetes!
Recognize the strength and commitment it takes to handle diabetes
“I admire you even more for handling this like you do”
Recognize that even when things aren’t perfect
“your resilience is a strength I admire”
Ignoring the fact that diabetes is a part of the life of those you love can be tempting. You don’t want to make it a “big deal”, after all it’s not a limitation. But, on the other hand, not acknowledging the impact of diabetes on someone’s life doesn’t give them credit for all the hard work they put in everyday. It can be a hard line to walk. Knowing how to communicate with your loved one and express that admiration in a way they can receive can build a bridge to open up communication, give support and offer comfort.It is important to learn how to best give and receive love from those you care about most, what is an act of love to one person, might be taken as a slight or pityingby another so it’s a good idea to sit down and have a conversation or take careful time to observe how those in your life show and accept love. And this is not just for couples. Parents, your kids have love languages from a very early age! Your parents, your coworkers, we all speak in love!
You can find out your love language here: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Alicia’s diverse nursing career has given her experience with a broad range of clients and a variety of health conditions in addition to diabetes. One of her passions is advocating for the needs of her patients, whether it be in overcoming insurance restrictions, obtaining community resources, or coordinating with school systems and medical providers.