How long have you been in your current relationship? For a minute, sit back and think about all the changes your love has endured. Perhaps the changes have been career changes or changes in the number of children and grandchildren. Maybe those changes are more traumatic, more difficult to handle than life's pleasant changes. For my relationship it's been a series of things but the hardest has been the diagnosis of cancer.
The day I received the phone call from my physician's office I was dumbfounded. The voice on the other end was distant and cold, maybe even a little monotone and curt. Her words of advice were to avoid stress, get lots of rest, and to be sure to have a solid support system in place. When I disconnected the call I was in shock. It took a moment to register.
I remember crawling into our bed and pulling the comforter over my body. Then I remember all the crazy thoughts I had. I'd only found my true love. Eighteen months together was not long enough- and what about my babies? They needed me. I let the tears fall freely as I played through all the horrible scenarios.
As a nurse I knew the score. I knew the survival rates and I Knew the treatment options. I didn't fear things like losing my hair or being sick. Instead I wondered how I'd cope with more energy loss and having a harder time keeping up with our five collective children. Suddenly I knew that I had to have a plan of action. I knew that the odds were stacked against me and that just wouldn't do.
It wasn't long before my husband-to-be made his way upstairs. He didn't say anything at all. He just held me close until I told him what the doctor said. He still held on but he also began to tell me how strong we are, how well we'd do, how quickly we would put this behind us. I wanted to believe him, needed to believe him, so I did. He'd never let me down before.
I had moments where I cried and I worried. There were moments that I tried to push him away, claiming that I was “letting him off the hook” and setting him free. He deserved a woman who would live, someone who would be around to grow old with him. Though it couldn't have been easy, he stayed strong even when I could not.
The point of telling my own personal story of change is this-
Sometimes we carry our love. We pick them up and brush them off. We offer tender reassurances and hugs with the hope that what we're saying will eventually sink in. We let them rant and rave, maybe even allow them moments to wallow in self-doubt and self-pity but not for too long. When they've gone on long enough we set them to right and give them no alternative but to carry on.
Other times our love carries us. They do for us all that we've done for them. In the wee hours of the morning they wrap us in their arms and protect us. They're our shelter in the storms of life. Often we don't even realize it until the storm is over.
We're not going to be with one another the way we were at first. Change is inevitable. From hair loss to weight gain, it's going to happen. Sometimes we'll notice and other times we won't.
Here are some tips to help make changes easier:
Give it time to sink in. It won't happen overnight. Especially if it was an unpleasant change or completely unexpected, it's going to take time to adjust. Allow yourself the option of giving it a few days then dealing with it.
Think about the pros and cons. Weigh them appropriately. Don't give more credence to one or the other. Honestly analyze each pro and each con then think of the bigger picture. Usually we find that approaching it with a piece by piece approach helps us to see the situation for what it really is, not what we're thinking it really is.
Once you've thought it over on your own, talk to your partner. They're in this with you. You're not going through this change alone. Pulling away from one another will do neither one of you a bit of good, but it's often easier than banding together. It takes work to keep one another close. Talk to them. Tell them what your fears are, what your gut reaction was, and what your final thoughts are. Chances are they'll have similar thoughts and feelings. They too will need to know that they're not alone in this.
Make a plan of action. If it's a medical problem, meet with your doctor to discuss the options. Join with your partner to plan how to work things like treatments or dinners after treatments. If it's financial, sit down and review the finances together. Come up with money saving ideas that you can both realistically put into action. Start with the simplest steps first then move on to more complicated solutions. Easy or hard, the important thing is to do it together.
Be patient with one another. If you're both used to going places and doing things with other couples and suddenly you're unable, it's likely that you'll both be cranky and cross at some point. Drawing on your knowledge of one another, do what needs to be done. Set aside an hour each night to talk and whine then put it back in perspective. You'll both probably say things you don't mean when you're cranky, so try not to take them personally.
Ultimately, how you handle change is up to you. You make the conscious decision to respond with a positive attitude or to let the change control your responses. Don't let the fear of the unknown hold you back. Hold your head high, take your lovers hand in your own and hold tight to the love you share to weather the winds of change.