“If you have sugar for breakfast, and sugar and lunch, and sugar for afternoon tea, you know you’re bound to puke sometime.”
Don heard this statement years ago when he attended a music camp. The conductor said it to encourage his students to round out their lives with interests beyond their love for music. Don has applied the concept in life, as advice for people he counseled, and in our marriage – especially since his stroke.
We love each other as husband and wife. We enjoy being together and are proud of each other. However, too much “being together” can be unhealthy. Immediately after Don’s stroke, I could not leave him alone. As Don recovered, I progressed so that I could leave him, with a measure of apprehension. Eventually I became comfortable leaving him or having him leave me.
I can now leave Don home alone for a week, if I travel to another part of the country to visit our son and his family. Traveling is difficult for Don, so he encourages me to go alone. Both of us have our own friends with whom we spend time. We both think it benefits our relationship to be apart. We then appreciate each other more when we are together.
What helps us cope and gives us hope? We work at ways to cultivate our own identity and allow ourselves time to be apart. It refreshes our relationship.
Questions for our readers: Are you able to create time apart as a couple or as a patient and family caregiver? What are your challenges in doing this? How do you make it happen?
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