Brief Synopsis: A couple confronts chronic illness and its negative impact on their relationship.
Couple: Lionel and Tara
Challenge: Lionel and Tara have enjoyed a happy relationship for many years, but her diagnosis with fibromyalgia has challenged their bond.
How they cope: Lionel tries to be available to Tara and meet her needs, but she views him as being disconnected and disinterested in her condition. After serving his needs faithfully for years, she is looking for him to give her 100 percent. To make matters worse, she is hiding her diagnosis from her children, which has put extra stress on both her and Lionel.
Where they’re stuck: Tara doesn’t want to be a martyr or make her condition the main focus of her life, but the reality is that it has completely changed her life. By hiding her condition and refusing to acknowledge the life-altering effect it has had on her life, both Tara and Lionel are stuck in a state of constant tension and resentment.
Dr. Berman’s homework:
Explain your needs. Your partner isn’t a mind-reader, so if you don’t speak up and let him know what you need from him, he won’t be able to step up. The reality is most people do want to make their partners happy, but without clear guidelines to follow, it can be difficult to make that happen.
Ask for help. Let your loved ones know if you are ill or in need of assistance. Hiding your pain from them will only put further stress and tension on your body, and they won’t be able to offer you the love and support they need.
Stop looking for evidence to ‘convict’ partner. In relationships, we tend to make up stories about our partners. He’s the lazy one, she’s the selfish one, etc., and then we look for evidence to prove our thoughts true. This means that we are only focusing on the negative things our partners do, instead of focusing on the positive things they do. Stop looking for evidence to convict your partner and instead start focusing on the positive things he does.