Diabetes Week: Communicating with partners

This year’s Diabetes Week theme is ‘Talk About Diabetes’ and so I’m looking at how we talk about diabetes with our partners.

Diabetes affects both partners, not just the person with diabetes. The partner will share many of the difficulties and emotions that the person with diabetes does.

These can include:

  • The shock of a diagnosis
  • Uncertainties about the future
  • The part that diabetes plays in day to day life

Because we as individuals are different, there’s no one way to talk to our partners about diabetes. Some people will like to hear more about how your diabetes management is going, others will be happy for you manage things and will only need to know if something serious is developing.

Some partners are very happy to communicate what they need from you. They may be happy asking for more or less information about your diabetes or certain aspects of control. Other partners may be less forthcoming, however, about how much information they’d like to hear.

Talking with your partner

If you’re in the position of thinking “I’ve never asked my partner how much he/she would like to know about my diabetes,” then we’ve come up with some conversational starting points, such as:

  • Would you like to hear me talk more or less about my diabetes?
  • Would you like to be more or less involved in my diabetes management than you are?
  • Do you have any worries about my diabetes?
  • Do you have any questions about hypos?
  • Is the diabetes management fitting in well with day-to-day life?
Sometimes personalities can clash

The phrase ‘opposite attracts’ is quite often relevant when it comes to partners. It’s common to pick partners that have different traits to us as that provides a balanced and rounded relationship. This is why it’s very common for introverts and extroverts to pair up as partners.

With this in mind, it’s good to note that your partner is likely to have a different communication style.

Some people feel that their partners are nagging them about their diabetes when actually their partner just wants to help. If you think your partner does nag you, it can be a good idea to hold back a little and let them explain how they’d like to help.

Keep an open mind and you will likely find that they are making some good points to consider. You don’t have to do everything they say but listening to what they have to offer can be a useful step forwards for some couples.

Another apparent mismatch can be when the person with diabetes is really keen on managing their diabetes and very enthusiastic about sharing new findings. However, their partner is quite happy for them to do what they’re doing so well and doesn’t need to know each detail.

This shouldn’t be taken as a knock back. The partner has a different personality and that’s likely part of the relationship’s strength. The person with diabetes here will likely have a lot of joy by joining a diabetes community, like the Diabetes Forum, and sharing how they’re doing and learning new things with others that share a similar interest and passion.

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About the author

Benedict Jephcote

I have been researching and writing about diabetes for the best part of a decade. I have a passion for helping people with diabetes and championing their rights. Outside of diabetes, I have a love of music and seventeenth and eighteenth century history.

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