Think back to your courtship. There was one sweet moment where “I really like him, and I hope he likes me” turned into “I really like him AND he really likes me“. Was it a kiss? A phone call? A date? A touch? Just before that wall came down, did you feel nervous, anxious, self-conscious, or depressed? Now think about how you felt after that moment – happy from head to toe, excited, giddy, loved. He already liked you when you were feeling nervous. You just didn’t know it yet.
When your child is born with a congenital heart defect, the stress pushes you the wrong way through that moment. He still loves you, but it’s hard to feel it. You feel anxious, depressed, scared. Follow these tips to get back to feeling loved:
- Confide in each other. He knows exactly what you’re feeling because he’s feeling it, too. Blogs and networks are great, but no one gets it exactly like your husband. Share the regrets, the what-ifs, the guilt, the anger, the hope, the fear. Start with, “Do you ever feel like….” OR “Sometimes I just wish…” Or “I’m sad”. Sharing keeps you connected.
- Recognize how he EXPRESSES his feelings. Stress elicits a “fight or flight” response. We feel angry and isolated when our partner reacts in unexpected ways. Don’t assume your husband isn’t hurting because he reacts differently to the stress. Start with, “When we’re at the hospital, I feel so [claustrophobic, helpless, sad, tired, anxious] and it makes me want to [stay there 24/7 even if it means neglecting everything else, OR get out of there because I can’t stand not being able to fix it. I need to go for a run or do…something!].” Knowing what he’s feeling is better than assuming he’s feeling nothing.
- Cut each other some slack. Use your empathy. Neither of you are at 100% right now. Be extra forgiving. Defuse fights. Start with, “Wait, wait. I don’t want to fight with you. I need you and I love you. Can we just skip this fight? I need a hug.” It won’t solve the problem, but it will let you skip over the silly fights that wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t both so stressed.
- Apologize when it’s your turn. You’ll be immature, or mean, or grumpy, or nit-picky. Be quick to apologize. Start with, “Sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking. Will you forgive me?” Take back mistakes early and move on. There’s no time or energy for dragging it out.
- Make time for sex. Under pressure, sex seems to be optional but it is absolutely essential. He needs it to de-stress. You need it to recenter. Start with, “Hey,….”
You can thank me later 😉
I know it’s scary. Feelings will get hurt. I’m not saying you should be a victim. I’m saying, the sooner you break down those walls, the sooner you’ll be facing the challenge together instead of alone. It’s almost like you’re both PMS-ing. Expect it. Adjust for it – be nicer, more forgiving, and more forgetful of past wrongs.
What else works for you? Leave me some comment love and let me know what I left off the list.
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