Diabetes management can be demanding. People living with diabetes always have to think about eating the right foods, taking insulin or other medications, getting enough exercise, monitoring blood glucose levels, and managing stress, among other things.
Diabetes doesn’t affect just the person living with it—it can also affect their partner. Supporting a partner with diabetes can bring new emotional challenges. But it can also nourish and strengthen your relationship.
Supporting a Partner With Diabetes
Diabetes management can be overwhelming at times, but if you do it as a team, it doesn't have to feel like a burden. It can even be a chance to make healthy changes together and an opportunity to learn how to navigate the more challenging or stressful times. Diabetes can affect marriage and other relationships—but its impact doesn’t have to be negative.
Take an Interest in Their Diabetes
Wanting to help but having no clue where to start can be daunting. Diabetes is complex, but you’re not expected to know everything about your partner’s diabetes. Something as simple as taking an interest in your partner’s diabetes can go a long way. Showing that you’re interested in learning and helping can bring your partner comfort.
Keep in mind that everyone living with diabetes has their own preferences for how they manage their diabetes, whom they want involved, and how involved they want their loved ones to be. Asking your partner how involved they’d like you to be in their diabetes management can ensure that you’re truly helping them physically, emotionally, or both. Maybe this means helping them remember to check their blood glucose levels. Maybe it means eating healthy and exercising together. Or maybe it’s just providing emotional support.
Work as a Team
Making lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising, can be difficult if you’re doing it alone. Having a partner along for the ride can make it much easier to stick with it (and more fun). If your partner is open to the idea of making it a team effort, you have an opportunity to help them improve their diabetes management while creating your own healthy habits.
Talk Openly About Your Feelings
Supporting a partner with diabetes can bring emotional challenges you’ve never had to deal with before. It’s common and understandable to worry about the health of your partner and the impact of diabetes on your relationship. Thinking about the possibility of your partner experiencing blood sugar emergencies, the risk of diabetes-related health complications, and potential issues with fertility or pregnancy can take an emotional toll on you. Additionally, diabetes can sometimes cause sexual problems.
Creating a safe space for both of you to discuss your hopes, fears, worries, and struggles gives you the chance to better understand and support one another. These conversations can be difficult, but it’s important to be honest about how you’re feeling.
Find Ways to Help Manage StressDue to work, finances, parenting, or normal day-to-day challenges, we all experience stress. People living with diabetes may experience additional stress because of the demands of managing their diabetes.
Finding ways to help manage stress is one of the best things you can do to support your partner. Stress is one of several factors that can affect blood glucose levels. Too much stress can cause your partner’s blood glucose levels to rise, making it difficult for them to stay in their target range. Find stress-lowering activities you can do together and that you both enjoy. Things like yoga and meditation, going for a stroll through the park, gardening, getting a massage, and cooking are all great options for relieving stress.
Look for Ways to Simplify Diabetes Management
The physical and emotional demands of diabetes management can take an emotional toll on both you and your partner—but there are ways to make managing diabetes easier.
Consider asking your partner what the most cumbersome part of their daily diabetes management is and brainstorm solutions to simplify it. For many people living with diabetes, checking blood glucose levels multiple times a day every day can be a hassle—especially when they need to check while out and about, at work, or at school. Blood glucose monitoring is important, but keeping track of supplies, finding a private place to test, performing the multistep process, and tracking down a sharps container can get old.
If they’re open to the idea of trying out a different monitor, you might consider asking if they’ve heard of an automatic blood glucose monitor (ABGM), such as the POGO Automatic®. ABGMs eliminate a lot of the hassle that comes with traditional blood glucose meters (BGMs). They have lancets and test strips integrated into cartridges that the user loads into the device. To check blood glucose levels with an ABGM, all your partner needs to do is turn the monitor on and place their finger on the test port. The monitoring system will automatically lance, collect blood, and provide accurate results quickly and in one simple step.
Small changes like this can make a huge difference. Just be sure to encourage your partner to consult with their healthcare team before making any changes to their diabetes management.
Supporting a Healthy, Happy Relationship
Supporting a partner with diabetes means being aware of their physical and emotional needs and providing support wherever it’s needed and wanted. Being in a relationship with someone living with diabetes is an opportunity for growth. Being a part of their diabetes management can give you a greater understanding of your partner while supporting your and your partner’s health.
Jaclyn Owens is a product director specializing in diabetes management tools. She is committed to using technology to empower people with diabetes and help them take control of their health.
All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.