Today’s advice blog features two letters that deal with stressful relationship situations. They are vastly different scenarios, but equally touching stories from two people who want to be the best they can be for the other person in the relationship. Each response also includes a holistic approach to solutions and healing by addressing physical, mental, and emotional concerns of each submission.
Have a question you’d like to ask?
I’m helping to care for my Mom after surgery. She is 81 years old and I am nearly 60 years old. I’m getting tired (it’s turned into 4+ months and a subsequent fall) and I wonder how to keep my energy level up and positive while dealing with quite a bit of negativity. Is there a way to shield myself in this situation? I’m open to any suggestions.
Love to you Nan for stepping up for your mom! Most often we see elderly parents left to be cared for by strangers when they are this age and needing constant care. It is not easy to care for someone so ill and dependent on others – nor is it easy to be the person in that condition. You are a blessing and a light-bearer, my friend. Feel that in your heart because it is so very true!
That doesn’t mean that you don’t require rest and relief from the stress. You cannot pour from an empty cup. You’ve got to take care of yourself first – physically, mentally and emotionally!
I’m going to give you some ideas for each of those areas that I think may help you stay balanced and fully equipped to be a caregiver for you mom.
Eat well and hydrate. Real and fresh food as much as possible and lots of water. (*add some lemon to your water for a pick me up!)
Rest efficiently. Rest isn’t just sleeping – it is also doing a relaxing activity that calms your mind while your body rests comfortably (puzzles, knitting, meditation, Reiki, reading…) Take breaks from chores and care-giving to allow yourself a break to rest.
Try to get organized the best you can for the situation. Setting a schedule for meals, baths, entertainment, and exercise with your mom will help you schedule in the rest periods for yourself.
Time off is vital. You’ve got to go out and live your passions and your life – even if just once a week for a couple hours.
Talk to friends or other caregivers who understand and can offer support. (Not just for complaining though – reach out to those who can offer compassion, understanding and ideas to support your self-care and your job as a caregiver.)
Try a supplement or herbal tea to help with mental clarity and focus. Ginseng is the best!
Orange, peppermint and lemon scents are energizing both physically and mentally. You can add these scents to your life with candles, essential oils, cooking, lotions, etc. (Peppermint can be an irritant on the lungs – so make sure it won’t bother your mom)
Journaling is a great way to get out emotions in a safe way that is not reactionary. This allows you to vent without your mom being on the receiving end.
Add some gratitude work with the journal – find a few things each day to be grateful for as your mom’s caregiver. This will encourage you to seek out those moments each day.
Get grounded. Walks in nature, planting flowers with the spring, or other grounding activities are helpful.
Give yourself the love and appreciation you may not being getting from your “patient” or others who aren’t the caregiver. (I put “patient” in quotes because it is helpful to think of your mom that way so you don’t take any harsh words from her personally as she recovers.)
Keep listening to your inner voice. She won’t steer you wrong. Ask the question and listen for her guidance.
Nan, you are doing something that so many won’t or can’t do – and it’s a true gift of love to your mom. Be proud of yourself and give yourself love and respect and compassion for all you are doing . You deserve to care for YOU like you are caring for your mom – don’t forget that!
All the best to you and your mom,
A Prude writes:
I’ve turned into a prude. I mean that literally. Most of my life I’ve had a very healthy sexual appetite, and that was true regardless of the quality of my lover. In the last several years, that has all changed. It’s not my partner; if I’m honest he’s the best lover that I’ve ever had. It’s not sex itself, once I’m in the process I love it. Beforehand, though, I’m miserable even thinking about doing it. I will make excuses, fake being sick or asleep, etc. I have made my husband go months without being intimate – at no fault of his own. I’ve wondered if there’s something physically wrong, but as I said – once we start – I’m all in. Physically everything works lol. It’s psychological and only before. I’ve worried about my husband finding physical attention elsewhere, and I would deserve it. I don’t even enjoy sexual jokes or references because I feel like it will lead to sex. I don’t know what to do.
* For the sake of this response, I am assuming the writer is female in a heterosexual relationship. There is good information here if the writer is male as well.
Dear A Prude,
Great question that soooo many women face! Thank you for writing!
For starters, you are not a prude. When a man suffers sexual dysfunction or loss of desire, they call it a medical issue and give him big blue pills, right? They would never call a man a prude or blame him if he stops having an interest in sex. The label “prude” is negative and blaming and hostile to your spirit. I’d really like for you to change that label first – get all that self-blame out of your mind. You are going through a period of dysfunction – that’s all. Think of this as you would any area of unwellness or change in your health. This issue does not make you deserving of infidelity any more than any illness would excuse that behavior. You are not at fault for anything and the compassion you are showing for your husband in wanting to remedy this situation shows your love for him and your marriage. Make sure to add yourself to the list of love and compassion recipients.
So, let’s talk about sexual dysfunction and loss of desire in a woman. It happens to us all. Why does it happen? Honestly, there are hundreds of things that can cause this. Women are holistically complicated – physically, mentally and emotionally. This chart is a sample of causes of low libido:
As you can see, this topic is way too complicated and broad for me to really help you solve anything in a blog post. However, I can give you some things to think about and hopefully head you in the right direction so you can overcome this issue in a way that is healing to yourself and your relationship. To be honest, your sex drive may never be what it once was, but it’s important for your well-being to understand where the change is coming from.
First, you might want to check in with your primary physician. Ask about getting a physical and testing done for your hormonal levels. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you are having with your body and emotions. Hormonal changes are the leading cause of low libido.
Next, check in with your thoughts and your mental/emotional connection with yourself and your spouse. Does anything on the chart above draw your attention?
Here are some questions to ask yourself: (write your answers down)
- How do you feel about your body?
- How do you feel about your husband’s body?
- What three things would you change about yourself if you could?
- What three things would you change about your husband if you could?
- What would your husband say are the three best things about you?
- What are the three best things about your husband?
- What three things do you and your husband most enjoy doing together?
- What three things do you enjoy doing apart from your husband?
- What are three passions you have in life?
- What are three passions your husband has in life?
Study your answers for a second.
Notice any questions that you found hard to answer. Notice any questions that you are unsure about the answers. Are there any red flags in your answers that show you that you may be disconnected in your relationship?
These questions aren’t meant to “fix” what’s going on – but may get you thinking about areas that might need attention in your relationship. It’s just a start. If you notice that you’ve been avoiding some issues, it may be a good time to seek out some counseling or coaching for yourself or as a couple.
The main thing I would like you to take away from this is that change happens. It’s not your fault. There may be ways you can improve your sex life and your desire, but, as I said above, your sex drive may not ever be what it once was and there may not be any specific reason for it other than that sometimes it’s just life. Life gets in the way. Life cycles happen. Life changes.
This may be a time of change in your relationship. You may have to adjust to a lower libido and less sex – without guilt or shame for what is happening naturally in your body. Your husband needs to understand what is going on as much as you do – and let’s hope he can respond with the same compassion and love with which you have displayed by reaching out for help. Connecting and communicating with each other is vital in navigating the change together.