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Relationship tips from CFIDS Self Help

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Cort, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    Raleigh, NC
    Personally I believe emotional issues can wreak havoc on our weakened systems and think how many emotional issues most of us have to face; we're often not working, often dependent on others, not sure what the future will bring, frustrated in general, have difficulty contributing - man it's a minefield out there. I face it all the time in my dependence on my father and sister - moving from place to place.

    Bruce Campbell has come up with some good ideas on how to resolve these sticky problems.
    http://cfidsselfhelp.org/library/seven-tips-improving-communication-0

    Serious illness puts both people who are ill and those around them under great stress, making good communication more difficult. CFS and FM bring the added burden of cognitive problems. Here are seven ideas for how to improve communication with CFS or FM.

    1. Pick a Good Time and Setting
    If you have something important to discuss with a significant person in your life, select a time when both of you will be at your best. It should be a time when both of you can give good attention and you will not be distracted by pain or brain fog, preferably during your best hours of the day. Choose a place that minimizes distractions and interruptions.

    2. Focus on One Thing at a Time and Be Specific
    Focus on one issue at a time. If you are requesting that the other person change, be specific in your request. Avoid making general requests such as, "I need help with the housework." The person being asked may wonder what would be involved in responding to the request. Instead, say something like, "Can you do a load of laundry today?" or "Can you do the grocery shopping?"

    If you are the one being asked to do something, it's reasonable to defer giving a yes or no answer until you are confident you understand what is expected of you. You can ask, "What specifically would you like me to do?" Even if you decide to decline, you can still acknowledge the importance of the request to the person asking for help.


    3. Practice Good Listening Skills

    Good communication is based on each person understanding the other person's views. Understanding begins with listening, which means focusing your attention on what is being said, with the goal of understanding the speaker's point of view.

    Listening works best if it occurs without interruption. After the person is finished speaking, respond by acknowledging having heard them. You might say something as simple as, "I understand." If you are not clear, you can respond by asking for clarification or more information. You might say something like, "I'm not sure I understand. Can you say something more?"

    From time to time, check whether you have understood the other person's position by restating it in your own words. You could say, "Let me try to summarize what I've heard and you can tell me if I'm understanding you."

    4. Aim for solutions
    Have as your goal finding solutions, not blaming one another or finding fault. The idea is to be able to discuss problems in a constructive rather than a confrontational way. Treat each other with respect, acknowledging his or her support and effort. Avoid demeaning comments, sarcasm and blaming. Acknowledge your part in shared problems and express appreciation for the other's efforts.

    5. Use Problem Solving
    Use problem solving to find solutions. The first step of problem solving is brainstorming, which means thinking of a variety of possible ways to solve a problem. At this stage, the goal is to generate as many ideas as possible, without evaluating them.

    For example, if your problem is how to do household chores when one member of the family is ill, alternatives might include dividing up the chores differently among members of the family, hiring occasional or regular assistance, simplifying tasks (for example, having simpler meals or cleaning less frequently), and moving to a smaller home that is easier to maintain.

    Second, you evaluate each proposed solution, decide which ones are most promising and try one or two of them. Third, after giving each solution a fair try, evaluate the results. Some potential remedies may not work, so you may need to have further discussions and try other solutions. The final solution may be a combination of several approaches. If several strategies are unsuccessful, you may decide that a problem may not be solvable at the present time.

    6. Consider Getting Help

    In many cases, you will be able to solve your problems yourself, but at times you may want to get help, either in understanding the causes of your problem or in finding solutions. So it may help to ask what resources are available to you. For example, to get a fresh perspective on your situation, you might ask other families how they have solved a similar problem or you might ask what community resources (church and public groups) are available.

    Also, if conversations about your problems are not productive, you can consider getting professional help. A counselor can facilitate a solution to particular problems and also help you practice good problem solving skills.


    7. Have Regular Relationship Discussions
    Finally, here's a technique that one couple in our program uses to nurture their relationship and to solve problems in their lives: having regular discussions of their relationship. They set aside Sunday evenings as a time to discuss any issue that is on their minds, calling it their "talk night."

    The husband explains,
    Having regular discussions means that both husband and wife know that they have a forum in which to state problems and frustrations, and a means for finding solutions. Also, because the talks are frequent, they can refine their communication skills through regular practice.
     
  2. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Excellent suggestions.
     
  3. Lisa

    Lisa Senior Member

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    I second that notion of excellence!

    Many of these suggestions have been things Jeremy and I employ to try for more harmony in our lives. When living with someone in close quarters day in and day out, year round under stressful circumstances - well, you need some communication skills to make it work.

    We haven't been able to use any of the suggestions for a time/setting to work on things because of the fluid nature of when both of us might be feeling well. Seems a shame to waste those precious times on talk! ;)

    What we do find works for us though is probably pretty situational. We have so little going on that needs our pressing attention at any given point in the day that we are instead open to talking things out when they occur. Granted, this often means it is when an argument is brewing, but we are learning how to find our way out of an argumentative frame of mind and to a solution frame instead. So far, so good!

    Jeremy is a much more mellow personality than I am. I have fiery ancestry in my blood, rawr! hehe I guess the more accurate description of our arguments would be that I am learning how to be less argumentative and more solution oriented instead of saying We... lol

    When you love someone, it is worth all the work. Those are my two cents!

    Lisa :)
     
  4. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Lisa,

    Fiery ancestry, is it? What ancestry would that be?

    Your photo looks so angelic, I am shocked ... :eek:

    :D
     
  5. Lisa

    Lisa Senior Member

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    Jody,

    I am a bit of a mutt. On mom's side you have Irish and German with a great, great grandmother who was Native American in a now extinct tribe. I think the Irish is more fiery in that mix, good solid peasant stock who probably waved pitch forks and hurled boulders. lol

    Dad brought to the mix Mexican with a strong Aztec influence. I never met him or even saw a picture of his face until I was 21 and tracked him down. A week later I flew to meet him and my first impression was a lot of surprise because he looked very heavily South American Indian as opposed to your average Mexican. Before meeting him I pretty much discounted mom's stories of being from Aztec lineage, but after meeting him there can be no doubt that it is there and not very far back.

    It's a crazy mix to have! The mild mannered super hero type. Not looking for a fight, but if you corner me then those warrior genes kick in and watch out! Rawr! hehe

    Lisa :)
     
  6. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Lisa,

    Goofball and mutt.

    What a pretty picture you paint. :D

    That is a pretty exotic mixture you carry. I also tend to be pretty laidback, ... until I'm not!

    That's why threads like this about keeping cool and communicative in our relationships are so important.:)
     

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