Seven Tips for Talking with your Partner about IBD
HealthCentral Editorial Team Sep 27, 2012 (updated Sep 26, 2013)
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IBD can put a lot of stress on a relationship. Learn how to communicate with your partner about your disease and get the support you need from each other.
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Disclose your IBD status
If you come into a relationship with IBD (Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis) it is important to tell your partner about your medical condition. It certainly does not need to be right away, but if you feel the relationship is going somewhere, it's a conversation you should have with them sooner than later.
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Take control of your symptoms
Once your partner knows you have IBD and is aware of how the disease affects your life, make sure you do everything you can to keep your symptoms under control. It is not fair to you or your partner if you don't do everything you can to keep yourself healthy. Schedule that doctor's appointment and take care of yourself.
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Set expectations for care
The details will vary from relationship to relationship, but it is important to talk with your partner about the level of care you will need from him or her and discern how much care or help you want during a flare up. Some people need more hands-on attention while others prefer to handle symptoms themselves. Either way, be sure to talk about this prior to the first flare up of your relationship.
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Now that your partner knows that you have IBD and how much or little to take care of you during your flares, you need to communicate your symptoms as they arise. No need to go into great detail if you don't want to, but just as you would if you were coming down with the flu, your partner needs to know when you are sick.
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Be flexible with plans
As anyone with IBD will tell you, flares will come when you least expect or want it. With this in mind, couples who deal with IBD must be flexible with their plans. If a hike is planned for the afternoon but one person's IBD symptoms start to flare, the couple must be understanding and flexible enough with each other to change plans quickly without a fuss.
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Allow for frustration
Let's face it, IBD is difficult to live with even for the most supportive and loving couples. It is totally unrealistic to expect everyone to keep a cool, calm head all the time when contending with an unpredictable and debilitating disease. Allow each other to be frustrated and vent when the time comes understanding that these feelings will pass.
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Ask for help when needed
We've established that IBD is a frustrating and unpredictable disease to live with for the person with the condition and the person who loves the person with the condition. It is OK and even productive to ask for outside help when the situation becomes especially stressful.