How to Support A Loved One Through Endometriosis
Endometriosis can come with a host of associated chronic symptoms. Chronic pain, fatigue, digestive issues - all of which are sure to challenge your loved one and put a strain on their relationships. As the partner of someone with these symptoms, the desire to fix and nurture them, pamper them and make all their pain go away is strong, but we risk smothering and patronizing them, and making incorrect assumptions about what they can and can’t do.
From supporting my partner with endometriosis, here are some tips on how best to support someone suffering with these symptoms, without condescending or assuming:
Ask them how they are
Ask your partner how they are feeling, don’t assume it was the same as yesterday. Regularly checking-in will ensure you are both singing from the same hymn sheet and will get you used to open and honest communication, a vital tool when dealing with endometriosis together.
Be attentive and mindful to your partner's response. Listen to what they are saying, not what you think they mean. They know how they are feeling better than anyone, and you can learn a lot when you actively listen.
The longer you know your partner, the easier it is to think you know them better than they know themselves. This is probably not true. Believe your partner if they say their pain is getting worse or their having a flare-up, even if it doesn’t match up with previous patterns and triggers. Rather than thinking you know best, pick up on this important information that will help you better understand your partner's endometriosis.
Don’t take things personally
When pain and discomfort flare-up, so can emotions. Your partner might snap at your or say something they don’t mean, or just plain ignore you when they are dealing with their own symptoms. Don’t take this personally as it will only build in to resentment and bad blood between you - remember that it is probably the endo talking and not your partner.
Go at their pace
If your partner is feeling well, don’t tell them to take it easy, and if they are suffering, don’t drag them along at a pace that will burn them out. Listen and watch for cues, and ask them directly. Take over some of their jobs and responsibilities when they are suffering.
The better you know endometriosis, the less mysterious your partners symptoms and challenges will be. Being well-equipped with knowledge about the condition and, more importantly, how it specifically affects your partner is key to managing the condition successfully as a couple.
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