For those of us with fibromyalgia or any chronic illness, we go through many stages before and after our diagnosis. Our lives change. We grieve the life we used to have and eventually come to accept our illness. However, the adjustments we make affect our loved ones too. I’ve been inspired to write this after hearing from some of my fibro friends that their spouses weren’t being supportive. Maybe they’re misinformed about the illness, maybe they’re having a tough time dealing with the changes. I’m fortunate to have an incredibly loving, supportive husband. I am not here to brag. He is not perfect. No one is. But I believe his actions are worth sharing and may help the fibro spouses/significant others out there.
1. My husband has accepted my illness, just as I have. He believes me when I say I’m in pain. Also, he believes in fibromyalgia. This is the most important step our loved ones need to do. Believe us. Trust us. If you don’t, then that’s a serious problem and it will affect the entire relationship.
2. My husband learned about fibromyalgia. When we are diagnosed (and even beforehand), many of us do research to learn more about our illness. My husband did the same thing. He asked me all different questions about it: what the pain feels like, the treatments available, and so on. Now he understands, to the best of his ability, how I feel. No, he’ll never truly know how I feel unless he’s diagnosed himself, but he learned enough and put in the effort to understand. I appreciate that more than he knows.
3. My husband does all the heavy lifting and other tasks that would cause me great pain. He carries the heavy bags of groceries, takes the garbage out or anything that has to be taken up or down our stairs. I do the laundry, clean the counter tops, tables, dust, and we split the rest depending on what kind of day I’m having. He knows I do what I can, but he doesn’t want me to overexert myself.
4. When we go out, whether it be to a social gathering or running errands, my husband is respectful of my limitations. If we’re out with family or friends and I need to go home after a few hours, he knows it’s because I’m in pain and I need to rest. If we’ve gone to a few stores and have done a lot of walking and my energy is gone, he understands and we go home. There are times when I can’t go out at all, but I don’t hold him back from anything, especially parties and social functions. He’s sad that I can’t make it, but I tell him to go and have a good time. He works hard and deserves to have fun.
5. My husband encourages me to do what I can and NEVER puts me down. He’s proud of me for being active in the fibro community and for writing. He compliments me even when I feel (and look) like hell, he makes me laugh, and enjoys my company, even when I can’t do much.
When we got married, we vowed to take each other “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.” All I know is that if you love someone, you love them unconditionally. To the fibro/chronic illness spouses and significant others — we know it can be tough. We just want your love and support.