The physical and emotional toll of cancer can put a strain on even the strongest of marriages. However, the experience can also make you closer. When you are both committed to being dedicated, devoted and determined to make the best out of each situation that comes your way, you can not only maintain your relationship, but also strengthen and sweeten the ties that bind.
These guidelines can help you navigate the days ahead and build toward a lifetime of love and commitment.
Of course, communication is a cornerstone of every strong marriage, but it is especially important to keep checking in on one another now. Don’t just assume that your mate knows you are feeling sad, tired, stressed or anything else. Keep a constant dialog going, making sure each spouse is heard and understood.
Travel back in time together to memorable events in your shared past. Recalling special, happy times such as your wedding day or the birth of your child will help you feel close and uplifted. Thinking back on struggles you have been through will remind you of your strength and courage.
Talk about things you would like to do together in the future. Make plans for the near future, such as remodeling your master bathroom once treatment is over. Share your dreams for the more distant future as well, such as building a cabin at your favorite getaway spot. These shared visions will unite you and give you hope.
Start New Positive Habits
This will certainly be a time of growth, so work on growing together in the same direction. Start each day writing what you are both thankful for in a gratitude journal. Spend time making healthy, new recipes. Find a physical activity you both enjoy and begin doing it together.
The treatments, checkups and side effects can quickly turn daily tasks into overwhelming burdens. Feeling burnt out and exhausted can cause loving partners to bicker and become resentful. Before this happens, line up help wherever you can, such as cleaning the house, preparing meals or driving the kids to after school activities.
List Priorities and Non-Negotiables
It’s okay to let some things fall by the wayside while you are undergoing this fight. Make a list of what really matters –time with each other, time with your kids and the absolutely necessary tasks that keep your work and home running– and vow to give these things your energy and attention while allowing less important duties slide. The dust bunnies can wait.
Physical intimacy is important, but it may become difficult during treatment. Fortunately, there are many other ways to create and fortify feelings of intimacy. Hold hands while walking, driving or just sitting together. Spend time cuddling and hugging. Never part without a kiss goodbye. Stroke your mate’s hair, caress your spouse’s face or give a little love tap whenever you walk past one another.
Remember, You Are Teammates
There will be moments when you are tired of the battle. You may feel worn out, bitter, angry, sad and a range of other emotions. As humans, we tend to lash out to those who are closest to us because we feel safe doing so. When this does happen, be quick to apologize and forgive. However, remember that you are waging war against cancer together. Keep this realization at the forefront of your thoughts. Lean on each other, be loving and gentle toward one another and act as the unbeatable team you know you can be.
Cancer’s got nothing on the two of you.