We’re talking about ‘COUPLES & DIABETES’ on February’s Diabetes Late Nite podcast on Tuesday, February, 13, 2018. 6 – 7:30 PM, EST.
How we deal with the pressures of diabetes can make a real difference to the relationships we have with others including friends, family, work colleagues or one off acquaintances.
I reached out to my friend, and colleague, Janis Roszler, LMFT, RD, LD/N, CDE, FAND, who is a Certified Diabetes Educator and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for her advice on the subject in an exclusive interview for the Divabetic community.
Q: What are the common do’s and don’ts for engaging your spouse in your diabetes care?
Janis Roszler (JR): Ask, don’t assume. Ask your partner if they would like your help. If they say yes, ask what they would like you to do.
(JR): Learn about diabetes. The more you know, the more comfortable you are likely to feel. For example, your partner’s occasional high blood sugar level is not a problem. Complications develop when blood sugar levels remains high for an extended period of time.
(JR): Don’t be offended if your partner turns down your offer to help. Many people prefer to do certain tasks themselves.
(JR): Don’t enter the “parent trap.” You don’t want to turn into your partner’s nagging mother or father! Calmly share your concerns then ask how you can help.
Q: What is helpful and not helpful in their interactions with each other?
(JR): Watch your non-verbal communication. Rolling your eyes or turning away communicates a negative message as clearly as yelling. When you speak to your partner, turn your body towards them, employ good eye contact and listen to what they say. Don’t think about your response while they are speaking. Good listening communicates heartfelt concern.
Q: What advice can you give spouses/partners who argue about diabetes?
(JR): Most couples fight. The trick is to fight fair and repair hurt feelings at the end of the argument. Here are some rules for fighting fair:
Make an appointment to discuss the issue. Find a time when you both aren’t distracted.
Stay on topic. If you are upset about a certain problem, don’t bring up other issues that also bother you.
Don’t bring up the past. Avoid phrases like “you always…” or “you never…” They make people feel attacked.
Focus on the problem, not the person. Don’t call your partner stupid, forgetful or any other negative term. That can cause hurt feelings and prompt your partner to attack you back. The problem is the issue, not your partner.
If things get heated, take a break. When people feel angry or attacked, they stop listening. They also have a harder time feeling compassion. If things get out of hand, take a break. Set a time to resume the discussion.
End in a supportive way. After the fight, try to connect in a loving way. Hug, laugh, go for a walk, etc. Invest in your relationship.
Q: What advice can you give to spouses/partners of people with diabetes who don’t want to manage their diabetes?
(JR): You can’t control another person’s behavior. Let your partner know that you are there for them, but try not to nag or guilt them into changing their behavior. It will only stress your relationship. It is hard to watch someone ignore or mismanage their health. If watching them becomes too overwhelming, meet with a therapist who can help you deal with the situation.
Q: What advice can you give to spouses who may be afraid that their partners will develop diabetes health-related complications?
(JR): The good news is that people who manage their diabetes well dramatically reduce their risk of complications. Discuss how you can support their efforts to stay healthy. If they are open to it, join them at a diabetes class or appointment with their health provider, so you can learn what they need and how you may be able to help.
Q: Hypoglycemia is upsetting, both for people with diabetes and their partners. Both get scared, both get frustrated, and both can get angry, at each other and at the diabetes. What advice can you offer on this subject?
(JR): Create a diabetes emergency plan before a problem develops. Which snacks should be in the house? What should you say if you think your partner’s blood sugar is dropping? If your partner wears a pump and has an unexpected blood sugar swing, what should you do? Etc. If you have unanswered questions, join your loved one at an upcoming appointment with their healthcare provider and ask what they suggest.
Q: Many people use glucose monitoring devices that can share data. Are there any guidelines for partners who monitor their spouse’s blood sugar data on their iPhones, etc.?
(JR): Some people feel great comfort knowing that their partner is watching their blood sugar level. Others prefer to keep these results private. Ask how your partner feels about sharing this information. If you see that their blood sugar level is going out of range, how would they like you to communicate this information? When should you tell them? This is all very personal and should be discussed before the situation arises.
Q: Divabetic is honored to participate in Diabetes Podcast Week to raise awareness for the ‘Spare a Rose, Save A Child’ campaign. This a wonderful cause encourages people to take the typical “dozen roses,” so popular on Valentine’s Day, and donate the value of one rose to help save the life of a child living with diabetes in developing countries. (The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that there almost 500,000 children under 15 years with type 1 diabetes. Lack of access to insulin remains a common cause of death in a child with diabetes.) Make your donation tonight by visiting the International Diabetes Federation (idf.org).
In the spirit of Diabetes Podcast Week, I’d like to ask you what some guidelines are for creating boundaries between parents and children with diabetes?
(JR): Visit the Children with Diabetes organization (childrenwithdiabetes.com). They run wonderful programs and offer online support for parents of children who have diabetes. Learn how other parents handle boundary issues. If your child is ready, encourage them to gradually start to do age appropriate self-care tasks, so they can become more independent. Let them know that they can come to you if any task doesn’t go as planned.
Janis Roszler, LMFT, RD, LD/N, CDE, FAND is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and insulin pump trainer. She is the author of several books as well as the popular Dear Janis column in Diabetes Positive! Magazine and contributes to Diabetes Health, Diabetes Forecast, Diabetes Interview, and Diabetes Self-Management . She is also a speaker on diabetes-related topics and has appeared on numerous radio programs and Internet webcasts.
The Secrets of Living and Loving with Diabetes helps readers gain control of their diabetes and reach a new level of confidence in their relationships.
In this book, three experts deliver advice on issues such as handling nagging friends and relatives, injecting insulin discreetly while dining out, bringing up the subject of blood sugar highs and lows before turning out the bedroom lights, and avoiding diabetes urgencies becoming emergencies. Also included are practical tools like exercises, quizzes, questions, checklists, and coping strategies.
One of Janis Roszler’s other books, Sex & Diabetes is the first book ever to deal exclusively with sexual problems as they relate to diabetes— and the only book to discuss issues that relate to both men and women.
It also shows you how sexual problems can be prevented or delayed and discusses treatments options that currently exist. Sex & Diabetes highlights the value of communication between sexual partners and the importance of having an open relationship with healthcare professionals.
TUNE IN: Diabetes Late Nite inspired by Faith Hill & Tim McGraw on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 6 PM, EST. Throughout this podcast we will be playing selected songs from Tim McGraw & Faith Hill’s ‘Rest Of Our Lives’ album courtesy of SONY Music. Guests include Poet Lorraine Brooks, Jaye O’Grey, Janis Roszler LMFT, RD, LD/N, CDE, FAND, and the Charlie’s Angels of Outreach featuring Patricia Addie-Gentle RN, CDE.