Earlier this week my hubby and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. Over these last three years my health has really become intertwined with our lives and even our relationship at times. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis ten months before we got married, so we have had to learn how to manage my autoimmune disease together. This has been a huge strain at times, but it has also taught us a lot of valuable lessons and drawn us closer together. Those of us with autoimmune diseases don’t and can’t operate on an island. We need community and support and our family tends to be the front line of support through the especially hard times and the day-to day.
While I’m sure many of our loved ones wouldn’t have it any other way, living with, loving and caring for someone with a chronic illness impacts their lives in ways many people probably don’t understand. That is why I decided to sit down with my hubby this week and ask him some questions about being the husband of an autoimmune sufferer and he agreed to share his answers with you all so that he could potentially be a help to others in the same situation.
I am so thankful for my husband and all of his support I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through this healing journey without him.
Loving Someone With a Chronic Illness:One Husband’s Perspective
How do you think living with a spouse who has a chronic autoimmune condition makes life different in the day to day?
That’s a tough question. With some of the day-to-day stuff, it becomes part of the routine, and while others may think that something is odd, to us it seems normal. If we eat together we eat AIP, but it’s part of the normal routine. Conversations about your gastrointestinal health become normal. Requests to heat up a cup of bone broth or bring you essential oils become normal. There are a lot of small changes from the routine of someone with out an autoimmune condition but you find a new norm. I also have never had a spouse without a chronic autoimmune condition so I’m not sure how life would be much different. We probably wouldn’t eat as healthy and doing stuff spontaneously may be easier but we’ve never lived that way.
What moments or issues have been the most challenging for you?
It can be tough when you’re not feeling well or having a down day, to hear how sad you to feel about having to constantly focus your life around your health. It is hard when we have conversations about our future and you express doubts of being able to accomplish some of your goals or live your life the way you want to because you feel limited by your disease.
What was your initial reaction to my decision to follow the autoimmune protocol?
You had been flaring for 6 months so I think my reaction was something like, “If you think it will help, have at it.”
What are your thoughts now that I have been following the protocol for about a year and half?
I’m amazed at how you’ve been able to keep it up. When you started I thought it would be a short elimination diet with things to be added back in fairly quickly, but as it turns out you haven’t been able to add much back in so far. It’s frustrating sometimes when we need to eat something quick or when we are trying to go out to eat but for the most part I think it forces us to eat more real food.
Has watching me deal with my health and the way I eat changed the way you think about your health and the way you eat?
It has taken a while but I think I’m slowly becoming more aware of my own health. I notice the biggest difference when I have eaten more AIP food with you and then I go out and eat a standard American meal and I don’t feel great afterwards.
How would you say that this process of learning how to manage my autoimmune condition has impacted our relationship?
I think it has honestly allowed us to become more of a team in our marriage. I’m not always perfect at it, but it I have to think more about how things with my schedule or my job obligations may impact you and your health and it has taught me how to help advocate for you in difficult situations.
Do you have any tips for other family members who have loved ones with an autoimmune disease?
Find people who can help you be a support system. No one can do it all on their own, and we’ve been lucky to have family that is supportive of you and your efforts to manage your health. They have been able to help be a support system for you so I don’t feel like I have to do it on my own.