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Two Relationships in One
By Chris MacLellan

(Page 2 of 2)

Frequently reviewing and maintaining clarity in your roles becomes crucial so that your judgment and decision-making skills are based on sound facts instead of raw emotions. How much can the mind and body take when faced with so many changes in such a short period? I think that really depends on the couple’s ability to safely, clearly, and honestly communicate their wants, needs, and desires as indicated by the partner’s health needs first and the personal relationship second.

While I have no doubt that caring for my partner (who has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer) has strengthened our relationship, it has changed our relationship at times, too.  I have seen someone who was firmly independent become dependent in certain areas of life that have been difficult for him to accept.   Stepping outside one’s comfort zone and asking for assistance with mundane everyday chores adds stress to both parties.  That is undeniable!

Caregivers often become the voice for the one who is ill. As caregivers, we have to be mindful that we are in a supporting role; caregivers are the advocates, not the “deciders”!  In this supporting role, we must remember that what we want for our loved one may not necessarily be what the loved one wants.  What a slippery slope this becomes when the person you are caring for is your life partner!

As part of an LGBT intergenerational couple, I have, on occasion, observed discrimination in our health care system. Here again, personal political preferences may need to be deferred in favor of pragmatism because I am in the role of caregiver. Successfully addressing and focusing solely on the needs of my partner is paramount. There will be plenty of time to step up and do what is politically right once I have insured his proper care.

Life’s journeys do not often drive on smooth roads, but we can always hope for a gentle wind at our backs.  That gentle wind is always fortified by love, trust, and commitment. Come to think about it, aren’t all relationships manifested in this way?

 


Chris MacLellan is the coordinator of Senior Services for SunServe Social Services in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He blogs about his LGBT Caregiving and his partner's diagnosis with esophageal cancer at thepurplejacket.com.

 

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