Diabetes and Marriage: 6 Tips for a Happier Marriage
Marriage is tough on its own. It requires teamwork, communication, and continuous learning. We may fall in and out of love, even in the best of times. It’s all a part of the human experience.
And like any successful partnership, marriage is measurable by the good times and the trying times. Every obstacle you have to face with your partner strengthens the relationship and each other. Having a partner with diabetes is no different.
While type 2 diabetes is linked with intimacy issues, like erectile dysfunction or post-menopausal changes in sex drive, many marriages have weathered a diabetes diagnosis, and your marriage can too. It just takes a few small and simple shifts.
This article will show you how living with diabetes does not have to be a roadblock to marital success.
While most of these tips for a happier marriage with diabetes are easier to follow if you know your own or your partner's diagnosis pre-marriage, many people are diagnosed with diabetes later in life due to poor diets, unhealthy lifestyles, or even genetic bad luck.
Remember, a marriage between two people is characterized by its strength and perseverance, so one diagnosis does not by any means mean that the end is near.
1. Couples Therapy Can Save a Marriage
Diabetes, like any health condition, can wear down even the most stoic of partners. They have to keep updated on new drug treatments, the illness's biological effects, and your day-to-day life and limitations. It is a lot to process, and there is just so much to learn.
Couples therapy is an effective way to grow closer as a couple. You and your partner will learn to:
- Communicate more effectively and more frequently
- Manage stressors together, as a singular unit
- Improve your marriage, depending on your perspective and goals
Couples therapy may seem taboo, but it’s not strictly for couples that are struggling to stay afloat. Couples therapy is for couples who want to learn to better communicate with each other, find new coping mechanisms, or to listen to professional advice on how to deal with challenging marital issues.
It’s important to remember that a therapist doesn’t take sides. Their goal is to help you find the right coping mechanisms to make your marriage work. This may involve communicating more, identifying emotional triggers, and developing a framework that can diffuse tense situations.
2. Managing Diabetes Together
As a singular unit, married couples need to work together to manage the symptoms of diabetes, regardless of whether only one partner is going through diabetes or if both partners do.
Managing diabetes and its effects on relationships means knowing, for both you and your partner, how to:
- Schedule regular exercise or walks outdoors
- Know your blood sugar levels and target vital signs
- Know your treatment plans and how to enact them
- Eliminate stress from your daily life
- Stay hydrated and consume a healthy diet
It is easier to manage diabetes when your partner is supporting you and has a similar lifestyle. That way, the two of you can motivate each other. For example, a strict diet is more comfortable to follow when both partners eat healthy foods together, rather than if the non-diabetic partner eats fried chicken.
Remember, a diabetic partner may only be able to eat salads and natural fats, leaving them feeling left out if you get to enjoy junk foods.
Try and be empathetic when it comes to what you eat in front of your diabetic partner. There are many different ways to revamp those unhealthy and heavy meals into more nutritious and still delicious alternatives. It just takes some quick planning to figure out.
3. Save For the Financial Struggles of Diabetes
When married, you and your partner have to support each other financially, and work together when it comes to managing finances. The stressors of diabetes can add financial struggles, depending on your location, health plans, insurance plans, and other day-to-day requirements. Insulin is not cheap, and your insurance provider may or may not cover the cost.
Knowing that financial struggles are likely, married couples can save up and plan for these times of need to pay future bills, strengthen the marriage, and manage diabetes-related marriage stressors when financial issues occur.
Creating a plan and building a financial safety net is a good start to easing the stress of potential expenses, because you know that if they do occur, you are ready and it will all be okay. Even putting away $100 from every paycheck is a good start. When creating a financial safety net, consistent saving is key!
4. Emotional Support: Silent But Necessary
Everyone needs emotional support from time to time. Some people need more vocal support, more frequently. That is fine. We are all different, and we all have different emotional needs.
Diabetes, or any long-term health condition, requires patience and understanding. Loving a partner with diabetes means that they will have a slightly different lifestyle and may not be able to do certain activities with you, like grabbing a large fruit smoothie or eating takeout after a workout.
Emotionally supporting your partner and making small lifestyle changes will make your partner feel that their feelings are heard. It’s that kind of understanding and patience that will help keep marriage strong—diabetes or not.
Frequent Updates With Your Partner
Life doesn't always go to plan. Things change, priorities change, and diabetes stressors change. Change is okay and normal. Whether you or your partner have diabetes, you need to remain committed to each other and communicate as much as necessary.
Frequently updating your partner regarding your diabetes will mitigate any issues you may encounter, like picking up insulin from the pharmacy or going grocery shopping.
Updating your partner might seem like common sense, but it often falls through the cracks when a person becomes worried about their illness and doesn't want their partner to worry as well.
This is one of many essential tips to ensure a good marriage, and communication is even more important when dealing with diabetes since your partner may hide their true feelings.
Ensure that you communicate with your partner, even when the topics you want to discuss appear daunting. Open communication leaves nothing to chance, and gives both you and your loved one a voice in the marriage. However, don’t criticize your loved one for their opinion. You don’t want to discourage them from sharing their feelings in the future.
6. Educate Your Partner
We only know what we know. The Internet is full of great resources about diabetes, living with the condition, common challenges, and more. Take the time to learn about diabetes, how it may affect your partner, and other information that will better prepare you to tackle these challenges.
Diabetes can affect your partner in a variety of ways. They may have a lower sex drive, gain weight, experience temporary blindness, and frequently feel tired. Learn as much as you can about how diabetes is affecting your partner, so you can support and help them through the bad days.
Take the time to join diabetes support groups, read content from popular diabetes communities, watch videos on YouTube, and anything that will boost your understanding of the condition. This goes a long way and can ensure you are informed and ready to help your loved one when it matters most.
Creating a Thriving Marriage With Diabetes
The combination of diabetes and marriage is not without its highs and lows, but you can get through it together. A marriage is a unit—two people working together and supporting each other through tricky times.
Does diabetes affect marriage? Yes, of course, but diabetes is just one more adventure you and your partner will share over a lifetime of memories. Living with type 2 diabetes is possible with the right tools. And if you work as a team, there’s no reason a diabetes diagnosis should control your marriage.Are you interested in learning more about how other diabetics approach marriage challenges? We suggest you join our Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together community to discover new strategies you can use to improve communication and understanding in your relationship.