Polygamy: Diabetes Impaired Relationships

Man counselor caught in between fighting yelling couple

As I look back to previous relationships, there is one partner who always seemed to be part of every relationship. No matter whom I was dating or who my friends were, that partner was always involved. Regardless of where I went, whether I was hanging out with my best friend on vacation in New Zealand or on a date in the east village, he was part of the relationship. My partner was passive aggressive at times as he needed a lot of attention. He would wait until just the right moment to upset the ones I loved, and even ruin my relationships, so he would have all my attention.

It is a complicated relationship. I would have to take care of him and pay attention to my other partners, and he still tried to hurt my loved one and me. If I attempted to control him, he would take up so much time that I would ignore my other partner, friends or family. My parents also tried to control my partner but just as I unintentionally ignore friends, my parents would ignore my feelings and other needs in the process.

So, my partner, my friend, the elephant in the room was my diabetes. I have known several clients of mine who talked about their siblings’ being jealous of my client’s relationship with their parents, overlooking that the attention was going to my clients other partners, diabetes. Living with diabetes can take attention away from all members of your household.

If you make diabetes an enemy instead of a friend, anger and frustration tend to follow. Diabetes becomes harder to manage while anger and frustration take over and can cause resistance to performing the tasks required in taming the wild beast of diabetes.

The more I resisted taking care of the other partner in my relationships, the angrier my diabetes became. And boy, would he punish me! Later in life, I started realizing that if I took care of my friend diabetes, he would leave me alone some of the time. The more attention I gave him, the less time required to manage my diabetes and the more time I had to spend with family and friends.

Over time, I became more competent and informed about both the emotional and physical sides of diabetes management. Becoming more skilled at taking care of my diabetes created a sense of relief. The beast I befriended, became more predictable and would leave me alone most of the times. Sometimes, I would find myself forgetting that he was there.

The Polygamist (diabetes)
Our inner dialogue is a relationship with ourselves and the ones we love, have a relationship with their internal dialog as well. Here is the interesting part if we are in a monogamous relationship with another person we are actually in a relationship with them, their inner voice and your inner voice. In many ways, we all live in a polygamist relationship with our partners in life.

You can see this dynamic all the time in relationships. For example, you are talking to your spouse for a minute or two, when you ask them what they think, and they say “about what?” Frustrated you say, “You weren’t listening at all? Were you?” You may walk away feeling negative towards your partner thinking they don’t love you enough to listen to you. Understanding what happened during the conversation becomes difficult, to say the least, with four voices in the room. His or her internal dialogue may have gotten in the way even though the subject on the table was paramount to your partner.

Arguments may come down to miscommunication and the interruptive inner voices that hinder listening. Learning how to quiet your inner dialogue when you sit down to talk to anyone is imperative, because if you don’t, things get complicated. Now, let’s get back to our friend diabetes, the fifth voice in your relationship.

I am excellent at listening, as a psychotherapist. I do it for a living. I was having dinner with a friend who was telling me a personal story of great importance to her. I was paying attention, as I was interested in learning more about her. My internal dialogue was quiet, and I was enjoying the conversation. I didn’t realize that my blood sugar was going low.

I am excellent at listening, as a psychotherapist. I do it for a living. I was having dinner with a friend who was telling me a personal story of great importance to her. I was paying attention, as I was interested in learning more about her. My internal dialogue was quiet, and I was enjoying the conversation.

I didn’t realize that my blood sugar was going low. She asked me if I was listening and I said I was, but I was having trouble focusing. My inner dialogue said, “Something’s off here?” and “check your blood sugar.” My blood sugar was low, and then my diabetic voice, also known as the 5th voice in a relationship, started screaming at me. “Where’s your glucose packet?” my inner voice responded. “I can’t find it!” diabetic voice still screaming at me, “Get the waiter, hurry, you need to find him!” My inner voice interrupted my diabetic voice: “tell your friend about the low now!” I did, and my friend helped me get the waiter who brought me a coke.

Luckily, I had discussed with my friend about communication skills specific to diabetes related issues. For more in-depth information about managing a relationship when diabetes is involved and learn tools to reduce diabetes-related conflict within your relationship check out my article:

“Fixing The Diabetes Impaired Relationships”

It is important to reduce diabetes-related frustrations. Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapy teaches people how blood sugar negatively impacts communication, impairs cognition and decreasing the ability to communicate with those you love. Discover ways to improve your communication skill during high or low blood sugars as well as the capacity to talk about the topic of diabetes with your loved ones. Find unique ways to support your partner and uncover great ways to reduce the impact of diabetes on your relationships.

For information on Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapy and how it might help you; go to my website, www.diabetictalks.com today.

*All advice included in this article therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Prior to making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.

Published by Eliot LeBow LCSW, CDE

Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist, diabetes-coach, presenter, and writer. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapy takes a holistic approach combining traditional talk therapy with diabetes education and management help. It addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of living life with diabetes while still addressing other non-diabetes related life problems to create a unique holistic approach to helping people with diabetes thrive.

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