Anyway, today on an online support group for patients with IC, I read a post from a woman who was so upset. Her husband was giving her much grief over her suffering. It made me think long and hard and I just can't put it to rest. So, I decided to jot down my thoughts here. I feel so very bad for this woman, she seriously needed help with her kids, it sounded like he wanted her to pick up a child somewhere, but she needed time to pull herself together first, and it would have been much more charitable for him to do it himself.
Now I know about men and how they can be unsympathetic and simply unaware sometimes. My husband is prime example. He tries, he really tries, and I'm so grateful for that. However, I am in the middle of one of my worst flares, ever, and in so much pain I spend a lot of time crying. Earlier this week, my husband had a bad cold. He also works night shift and lacks sleep a lot of the time, but it happened to be his days off. He just couldn't be sympathetic at all with me and was truly being the opposite of helpful, and here I was, totally debilitated on the sofa, crying. I told him to stop treating me like such a jerk. The thing is, that didn't help at all. It only made the situation worse, he felt guilty and mad at the same time and it didn't do anything to curb his behavior towards me.
What I've learned over the years is to constantly affirm him instead of accusing him. The more I tell him how supportive and helpful he is, the more he becomes just that. The more I thank him, even for the smallest gestures, the more he wants to do for me. It's much better to try to be positive, and by that I don't mean pretending I'm not in pain and don't need help, just to keep a more positive attitude to help those around me keep positive attitudes as well. I know it doesn't always work out that way and sometimes the pain comes through in a sharp tongue and nasty words. The key is to recognize when this happens and apologize immediately and say I was wrong. Just as it was wrong for him to be unsympathetic when he had a cold, it's also wrong for me when I'm in pain.
So, my advice to someone experiencing great pain and wanting more help and sympathy from family members is to model that very behavior to them. Be honest about what you're going through, but don't whine endlessly and accuse the person you love most of not understanding or helping. Give him a roadmap to follow by thanking him for help he gives and reaffirming him when he shows sympathy towards you and tell him how much you appreciate what he does for you, every day. He deserves sympathy and help just as much as you do, just in different ways.