No one likes to be weak, yet it happens and you need your partner to step up. Some of you have a hard time letting others care for you. Some people often let others take care of them—stepping up may be a bigger trial if that’s the case. But you can do it.
We’re a culture that’s geared to give, but receiving can be much harder. Remember that it is a gift to another to let them care for you. People often want to help but aren’t sure how. So help your beloved help you.
What does it mean to each of you to be strong or weak? It’s different because you grew up in different families and have had different life experiences. Be curious and find out: ask directly. What is the meaning of independence? How do you create and sustain inter-dependence?
Some people worry about being needy. And if you are needy when you don’t have to be that’s something to look into for yourself. Did you learn that growing up? Did you or someone in your family get attention or another payoff for being needy when it wasn’t actually a need?
There will be times when you can’t do normal day-to-day things and your partner takes care of it. You can feel many ways about that: grateful, ashamed, like a burden, incredibly glad you have the partner you do, sad, impatient, and many more. Just pay attention to the feelings and after you notice them, let them drift away.
It’s a good idea to have a plan in place for when you need your partner to be the strong one. Make sure your plan is both practical and emotional, and you have space to discuss the feelings and needs you both have.
My husband has a herniated disc which is incredibly painful and has rendered him helpless in many things he’s taken for granted his whole life (except during cancer treatment and recovery). He does what he can, but I think he feels worse about his limitations than I do. I love him, and when I need to pick up the slack I just do it. And we talk about it on a daily basis. Reconfirming our commitment to being the team we are, to the love we share. And there are times when I’m so tired and we use paper plates at dinner! He was upset that he wasn’t able to spoil me on our holiday vacation as he loves to do since he’s busy with work a lot (although the truth is he spoils me year round). It bothered him. I knew it and we talked about it.
So as always, communicate. Know that people are more likely to have trouble maintaining an optimistic outlook when in pain or while some other sort of trauma or tragedy is going on. Give your partner a break if s/he loses it now and then (and don’t take too much).
Talk through your feelings and concerns now when you don’t have to face this. That way you’ll be prepared for when it comes. And it will.
Be sure to thank the caregiver/strong one every day.