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Crohn's Disease Forum » Support Forum » Partners, Family, Friends & Caregivers » Partners: caregivers or lovers or both?


02-26-2013, 12:56 AM   #1
sickofcrohns
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Partners: caregivers or lovers or both?

Just wondering how many others out there have had problems with relationships because of being in a caregiver role or privileging the caregiver role over other aspects of the relationship.

For instance, have you ever felt that you have to stick with a partner who is supportive when it comes to Crohn's, but really mismatch in other areas of the relationship, just because nobody else would tolerate/help you out with dealing with your disease?

I've seen posts from people upset about a lack of support from a partner, but I don't recall having seen much from this perspective.

Sickie (who just ended a relationship with someone who was a fantastic support for all things Crohn's, but more of a platonic roommate than romantic partner).

PS -- Anyone else think that the "question" icon thing looks like a little guy with a feather in his turban?

Last edited by sickofcrohns; 03-01-2013 at 10:20 AM.
03-01-2013, 07:34 AM   #2
KWalker
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Hey, I'm sorry you're feeling this way. I think it can be tough for a person with crohns because many (as it is) feel like it's hard to find a good, supportive partner so when we do, we may ignore other aspects of the relationship in fear of losing somebody supportive. The problem is however, if the relationship is lacking in other areas then it is is likely to cause stress on both partners but the one with crohns is more than likely going to supper from symptoms as well due to the commonalities of crohns members being affected by stress.

I know personally that stress is one of my biggest factors in determining what my BM's will be like. I know this because I'm a relatively low stress person (atleast I try) and I know around exam times that I can get worked up easily and it in return affects my BM's. If a relationship is constantly causing stress, whether it be from fighting or just not feeling connected it's better to part ways and relieve the tension then to continue on just for the sake of having a support system.

I feel like we often don't give enough people credit sometimes. Sure there are a lot of really shitty people out there but I always get hesitant to share that I have crohns thinking that everybody will be grossed out or shy away from me but it turns out they are all really supportive and don't treat me any differently at all.
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03-01-2013, 10:06 AM   #3
SarahBear
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Hi, sickofcrohns!

I can definitely see what you're saying. I'm sorry you've been in that situation.

I haven't felt that way in a relationship, but if it helps, I do feel that way about my job. I feel that there may be better opportunities out there, but I'm unlikely to find a job with a boss as understanding as my current one. It's a frustrating situation.

How are you feeling after ending the relationship? Are you doing well?

I hope things get better for you.

And yes, now that you mention it, I do see that.
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03-11-2013, 09:49 PM   #4
Ya noy
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I think the reason you haven't heard as much from the perspective you're seeking is because the very nature of Crohns, IBS, UC, etc., tends to lower the libido, resulting in a decreased or even nonexistent sex drive. In fact, digestive disorders in general can make sex uncomfortable, if not downright painful, even embarrassing.

Under those circumstances, having a partner who is also has a reduced sex drive or who is willing to take a lot of cold showers to function more along the lines of a caregiver or platonic roommate, could be perfect.

For SOME of course, not for all.

Without intimacy and romance, maintaining a healthy marriage/relationship can be difficult, but that depends. There are other types of disorders and illnesses that can have dramatic effect on libido, such as: diabetes, cancer, stress, depression, sleep deprivation, menopause, weight gain, migraines, and the aging process, etc. I know married couples who both have diabetes who haven't engaged in sex for years. I also know marriage couples who have sex, just not with each other. That doesn't mean their love isn't strong, they just don't possess that particular desire, and they're fine with that too.

There aren't any set rules for relationships. The rules are whatever the 2 parties in the relationship agree to or are both ok with. There is no one right and one wrong.. anything. Everyone's different. We all have different interests, different priorities and goals in life, and when it comes to relationships, right or wrong is more of a question of whether you're right or wrong for each other.

My husband has several pretty serious medical conditions, but I wouldn't consider myself his caretaker. He's not a bedridden invalid and is perfectly capable of caring for himself. Even when he was recently hospitalized and told his condition was serious, possibly fatal. To him that just meant we needed to do it right away, while he still could. Fortunately, the bathroom door in his room had a lock, and it wasn't exactly our first time in a hospital either.

Your previous partner just may not have been right for you.
03-11-2013, 10:11 PM   #5
sickofcrohns
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I haven't felt that way in a relationship, but if it helps, I do feel that way about my job. I feel that there may be better opportunities out there, but I'm unlikely to find a job with a boss as understanding as my current one. It's a frustrating situation.

How are you feeling after ending the relationship? Are you doing well?

I hope things get better for you.
Thanks, SarahBear. It's always tough to end a relationship when you actually really like the other person. So far we've been in touch and even had dinner together, but it's 100% over (from my perspective). I was under far too much stress from trying to adapt to his needs, while many of my needs were being ignored. (The problems in this relationship weren't just sexual, but failures to communicate and/or compromise often manifest in that sphere, at least, in my experience they do).

I think that, as women and as people with chronic diseases, we're often told to just settle, and not make a fuss, and be happy with whatever scraps of what we need come our way, no matter how incomplete those are. I'm not saying that I expect my life to be perfect, but I have the ability to have a great sex life (with the right guy) and I don't want Crohn's to rob me of yet another thing I enjoy. It just sucks to have to start looking again. . .

Sickie
06-22-2013, 03:18 PM   #6
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Hi sickofcrohns....
While I dont have Crohn's, my husband of 11 years does. We've been together 12 years tomarrow and 8 of those 12 he's had diagnosed CD. Just today, he said "Im your husband not your patient." I can be a little too controling at times when it comes to his diet. I think that "turns him off" a little. Sometimes, he doesnt mind me being his caregiver because he knows I only want the best for him. I do what I can to make him comfortable and pain free. We have somehow managed to integrate the caregiver role & the lovers role. I dont see him as sick. I see him as my husband. In my eyes, he's a strong person. He goes through so much pain and challenges (as only you all could know) that one would HAVE to.be strong to deal with them. I find that so admirable. I dont know if I could do what you guys do. Youre all amazing.
As far as sex goes, we've never had issues. When he first got sick, the sex drive was low. I thought it was me but then I realized it wasnt really either of us. It was the CD (he didnt exactly feel "in the mood" due to the nature of CD and his energy was zero) and Im fine with that.
Sometimes, I feel more like a carer than anything. But I love him. And sometimes thays the only way I can show him. So I dont mind, but, I think he gets self concieus about it though.
06-22-2013, 06:37 PM   #7
nogutsnoglory
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I had this experience about a year ago. I was dating an incredible guy who was extremely sweet and compassionate and really went out of his way to make sure he could do whatever he could to help with my condition both physically and emotionally. He would always be understanding about last minute cancellations, my scars, offer to drive or go where I want to go even if it was not convenient for him. He was incredibly supportive and reassuring and framed my disease as something that makes me stronger and a reason he loved me more.

He truly is an incredible person and I constantly remind him and tell him anyone would be lucky to have him. The problem was I felt that we were better off platonic and I didn't feel the chemistry for a relationship.

I felt bad because here I was with someone so sweet and accepting of my disease that it took me months to actually break it off. I totally understand this hardship and felt like a jerk but the heart wants what the heart wants.
06-23-2013, 03:13 AM   #8
alex_chris
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Personally I would never want to be with a partner who is more of a caretaker than someone I like for the relationship's sake. I know there are women with Florence Nightingale syndrome, which in itself is not a bad thing (it might just be compassion for the wounded and sick...) but in itself it can't be enough for a good relationship and it would also be unfair from my side if such a relationship would continue for long.
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06-23-2013, 07:06 AM   #9
sickofcrohns
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Personally I would never want to be with a partner who is more of a caretaker than someone I like for the relationship's sake. I know there are women with Florence Nightingale syndrome, which in itself is not a bad thing (it might just be compassion for the wounded and sick...) but in itself it can't be enough for a good relationship and it would also be unfair from my side if such a relationship would continue for long.
On a slightly different note, it's pretty common in movies and books for a guy to get beaten up/injured in some way, and then a woman to take care of his wounds, and then they end up having sex while he's still a bloody mess! I can't think of any good examples right now other than every single James Bond movie -- but there are lots. But I don't know of any that are the reverse in terms of gender, i.e. the woman is a mess and the man takes care of her. (I'd include LGBTQ examples here but there aren't enough in the popular media for me to know of any. Anybody else want to contribute?)

So while I have the same attitude as you, Alex_chris, I'm a straight woman, and from what I've seen, it's just not as socially acceptable for women to break up with "Mr. Nice But Platonic" because he's seen as exceptional just for caring.

I think this societal attitude is unfair to both men and women. What can we do to change it?
06-23-2013, 07:30 AM   #10
alex_chris
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I think films use the usual "woman cares for man" route like in the English Patient etc. because historically women have made up most of the nurses taking care of patients and to a large extent nursing is still a very female job with only a fee male nurses.

As to it not being accepted by society to break up with Mr. Nice But Not Right Guy, I think for the most part society has overcome this stage and accepted that both men and women can break up relationships for whatever reasons. Did your friends or family criticize you for breaking up with your "platonic roommate" ;-)? If so, I'd ignore it, it's really isn't anyone's business but your own, right?

Last edited by alex_chris; 06-23-2013 at 11:25 AM.
06-23-2013, 11:18 AM   #11
nogutsnoglory
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The reverse occurs but it is less common. I think as a whole, women
tend to be more compassionate and emotional and have that caretaker instinct. I also think women tend to be able to be more attracted to a personality and men are more caught up with the physical and less open to the emotional side. I know these are stereotypes but I think there is some truth to it for many women.
08-05-2013, 07:39 PM   #12
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My fiance has crohns disease and when he's sick or in the hospital i'm basically his caregiver. I do more for him in the hospital than any of the nurses. I do everything except give him meds or IVs.. I stay with him and talk to him openly about everything, even the things that some may consider the embarassing parts of the disease. I feel like all this makes us closer. The lack of sex life however, often makes me feel like a best friend/roommate other than the person he's in love with.
08-07-2013, 05:41 PM   #13
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I'd say both!

I do get tired of nagging about meds & I'm sure he is sick of me nagging, but he's getting better with them. I sometimes feel like the bad guy.

We have very open discussions about symptoms, stool colour, blood loss etc. so nothing phases me anymore!!! Also we use humour most of the time, esp. In 'laugh or cry' situations.

I've yet to stop asking him if he's going 'off' me due to the same as above but he does assure me it's just the constant pain, fever & fatigue. It's not me, he's not less attracted to me etc.
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08-07-2013, 06:47 PM   #14
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Sounds like we're in the exact same situation, Lozzie.
08-14-2013, 05:35 AM   #15
Paddy Holmes
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· Stoma
[QUOTE=Ya noy;613003]I think the reason you haven't heard as much from the perspective you're seeking is because the very nature of Crohns, IBS, UC, etc., tends to lower the libido, resulting in a decreased or even nonexistent sex drive. In fact, digestive disorders in general can make sex uncomfortable, if not downright painful, even embarrassing.

.


This has made me so happy! I know that sounds wierd but since my surgery I have found lovemaking very painful. For a while I didn't say anything to my husband but he's a true gentleman and noticed by the expression on my face that I was in distress. Now we are intimate but it must be so frustrating for him. I had made the assumption that adhesions had grown into my uterus which was causing the problem. I do have massive amounts of adhesions due to the multiple abdominal surgery I've gone through over the years. Thank you so much for giving this info. to all us Crohnies!
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08-14-2013, 07:08 AM   #16
sickofcrohns
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Sorry to hear about your problems, Lozzie, Kittenz & Patty. Interesting that we're coming at it from the opposite angle -- I'm the one with Crohn's and I've found my past partners were better caregivers than boyfriends. I was sick of not only being ill, but of them treating me like an asexual buddy and not a sexy woman when I was feeling fine.

This disease is hard on relationships!
08-18-2013, 10:13 PM   #17
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Whoa, I suppose it's hard all round to be honest. I try not to fall into the carer trap but I love him so much I want to make sure he's ok/doing what I can to support him.

Those lines be blurry & there is 5000000 Shades of Grey in the middle :P
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