Heart Disease affects not only the patient, but those who love them. The disappointment and at times even sense of devastation can be felt by partners as well as patients. Having a supportive partner, and being the supportive partner can help both of you recover.
While it is important to allow yourselves to feel the disappointment, it is also important to connect with your love for one another and develop a picture of a healthy future. Communication is key. Let one another know that your actions are coming as an expression of love and hope for the future. Even if you know deep down that love is the motivator, it is good to remind yourself and let the other know. Reminding yourself to act with love can help you moderate your behavior.
Please share your ideas of what supports your efforts as a patient and partner in the recovery process. Here are some ideas I can share from my experience working with people regarding how you can work together.
- Find common solutions – Think about what you want to accomplish as an individual as well as a couple. Better health yes, and then break it down, for example – lower cholesterol, improved weight, more energy. Once you have a goal then you can come up with behaviors which support their achievement; some of these may meet your individual goal and your loved one’s at the same time. For better cholesterol and lower weight, you can implement some of the same diet changes; more energy and improved sleep may mean you both agree to a sleep schedule and bedtime routine.
- Explain the change you want – discuss how both of you can benefit from the desired change, ask what ideas your partner has about his/her readiness, ways to implement the change and benefits that s/he sees . Keep benefits in mind when implementing changes, this helps you stick with a plan.
- Start Small – Making specific change(s) at a time, like walking together once on a week-end rather than planning several outdoor activities, or preparing 2 vegetarian meals a week rather than revamping your whole menu. Each success will lead to another. Being successful reinforces further success.
- Work with a coach – me, to develop strategies for how you can become the partner you want to be. Click here for a free consultation.
- Forgive and move forward – Don’t dwell on the past; put your thoughts and efforts into success in the present and into the future. The energy of optimism helps you move toward achievement. If one of you has trouble and doesn’t follow through, be encouraging about returning to the plan. Ask your partner, “What support do you want?” Evaluate with each other how the change is working out; decide if you want to continue together or as individuals. While one of you may take the lead in making a change, remember you are in a partnership, look for solutions that will work for both of you.