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Relationship resilience as a resource in diabetes

The psychological bounce-back ability of a romantic relationship, or relationship resilience, is often tested in new life circumstances. Fortunately, it is not a fixed trait and can be developed through practice.

Resilience can be seen as a sort of mental rubber band that provides leeway when facing challenging life situations, such as illness. Your mental flexibility is influenced by genetics, environment, and life experiences. Resilience exists both in individuals and in relationships. It is not a fixed characteristic of an individual or a relationship, but something that can and should be practiced. Resilience often varies according to life circumstances: sometimes, there's a lot of leeway regarding mental well-being. Generally, when there is leeway, life's aspects are in balance, and the relationship with the past is in good standing. When there is a lot of stress in your life, many unresolved issues from the past, and unexpected crises occur, your resilience may be tested.

Relationship resilience refers to the presence of well-being-supporting factors in the relationship that provide support during difficult phases. These factors can be consciously strengthened.

When there is illness in the family, the small moments when partners have the opportunity to rest close to each other become especially important for the romantic relationship. Resting near each other includes the notion of "being at peace, doing nothing." Often, it's thought that maintaining closeness in a relationship requires a lot of time and surprises. Ultimately, relationships are built in everyday life; in morning and evening greetings, in thoughtfulness, and in everyday touch. Regular touch and closeness are extremely important for the romantic relationship.

Building blocks of relationship resilience:

Touch and closeness have a healing effect. The skin's millions of sensory cells transmit information to the brain's pleasure center about gentle touch. The skin, being the largest organ, is ready to receive warm, accepting, and tender touch from another person.

Being diagnosed and diabetes itself may affect sexuality. It's important to find ways of touch and closeness that fit the current life situation together. Sexuality is an important experience of intimate closeness with a partner, and it is much more than making love. You can read more about the possible effects of diabetes on sexuality in the article "Diabetes and sexual health."

Memories, experiences, and thoughts often differ between partners, but what's important is being aware of and accepting these differences. Shared conversations create a common relationship story. To create a common story, it's good to openly share thoughts and feelings.

The more a partner is aware of the health condition and feelings of the person diagnosed with diabetes, the more understanding and compassion can grow. Often, it's thought that by not talking about feelings and issues related to the illness, such as pain, doctor visits, or prognoses, one is sparing the partner. This can easily leave both partners feeling alone, unable to share the experience and emotions together.

We are I, you, and also us in the relationship. All personal actions and choices affect the romantic relationship. Cherish the "we together" attitude. For example, you can recall times when you were strong and overcame difficulties together. Trust in the power of the relationship grows by acknowledging successes. Cherish the common good together, rather than fighting over who has it easier or has to do more. Spend time together, also doing enjoyable things, thus strengthening the spirit of "us".

Noticing and sharing positive and joyful events, feelings, and experiences with a partner significantly strengthens the romantic relationship. Although illness may bring sorrow and uncertainty into life, there is also a beautiful side to life.

Humor can make many difficult feelings and moments feel lighter. In conflict situations, tensions are naturally released through humor. There is permission to enjoy life's small and big moments.

A partner doesn't have to become a therapist or bear the responsibility for household matters alone. It's important to explore the possibilities of support from professionals and those close to you. Couples therapy can benefit many couples facing a crisis. Where can you find support for your relationship in your locality? In many places, help is available from Family Counselling Centers, family counseling services, and health stations.