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In the interests of full disclosure, I should reveal that I’m married to my fourth husband. Hopefully over the years I’ve not only learned a lot about divorce, I’ve also learned one or two things about marriage and relationships.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that marriage (or any committed relationship, for that matter), is a 100% proposition — but that it’s rarely an equal effort. Sometimes one partner has to give 90% of the effort while the other one can only give 10%. In the best relationships, it probably does even out over the [very] long haul, but I doubt that it does on a day-to-day basis.

Those of us with a chronic illness are acutely aware of this imbalance. When we often need help with day-to-day things and/or are so exhausted or overwhelmed with health concerns that it’s difficult to focus on anyone else, our partners tend to carry more than their share of the load, probably more often than they should.

I strongly believe that one of the real keys is to reciprocate as much as you can, when you can, and always, always show your appreciation. One of the most common themes in any relationship discussion, whether it’s marriage or jobs or whatever, is that the person puts out all this effort to make things work, but no one seems to notice or appreciate it. Okay, maybe it is their “job”, but don’t you like people to tell you when you’ve done a good job?

For the last two weeks my husband has put an hour a day of rush-hour commute into his life to drive me back and forth to work while I’ve been recovering from rotator cuff surgery. Sure, this could be construed as part of his responsibilities as my husband, but I understand the effort it takes. So every day when he dropped me off and every day when he picked me up, I was sure to tell him how much I appreciated him doing that. And I did whatever I could to not impact his schedule any more than necessary — by being on time, by being flexible when I wanted to be picked up, to not be impatient (too much) if he was late.

Relationships are not only about picking the right partner, it’s about being the right partner. It’s one thing to look at a person and try to decide if they will meet your needs (or are meeting them if you’re already in a relationship). It’s quite another to turn that microscope into a mirror and ask yourself if you’re the right partner for them. And if you’re not, what you’re going to do about it.

And for those of us with RA, when we do have those “normal” times in our lives when RA doesn’t overwhelm us, we need to remember that those times are not just a breather to get back to “normal”, those are our opportunities to give more to those who love and care for us and to show our appreciation for the effort it takes on their part.

I hope that you have lots for which to be thankful and appreciative. Thanks for checking in.