COUPLES & FAMILIES: Negotiate your Medical procedures the same way you would a birth plan…AKA: your date theme of the week : )
I get into great conversations every day. Today? How couples need to negotiate the best procedures for medical issues before they arise. There are two different circumstances: sick at home and hospital/emergency room visits. What are each of your strengths in those two scenarios?
Keep positive about this or you will create resentment and distance that can reverberate and grow in the years that follow. STAY POSITIVE and understand you and your partner are likely very different and that is GOOD! You cover more of the terrain this way.
I made the deal a long time ago with my husband that he was not going to be the person I go the emergency room with when I have an issue. While he is brilliant and will drop everything to show up, at the same time he was clearly itching to get out of that environment and the different issues as they arise caused him anxiety and stress and it in general made the whole thing worse.
My amazing best friend and neighbor Jessica was a rockstar for this kind of thing as are many of the women in my life. I love men and I highly value them. I highly value what each bring into my life even though it is a varied and wide range for each person. If male bashing happens, I smash it the same as I do female bashing (but that is another blog writing in and of itself!). SO, that is not what this is. This is playing to each other’s strengths.
Male brain and female brain IN GENERAL operate very differently. I know many exceptions but for the most part, male brain does not love the sudden and multiple complex changing situations, switchbacks, multi-tasking and multi-tracking that hospital related events are all about. With COVID or whatever comes next this may have to be done off-site from the hospital, but still the same steps.
When you plan it out make sure to honestly and supportively (don’t shame) play to each other’s strengths…and do NOT look for reciprocal duties on this.
If one of you has more of a male brain function (extremely valuable but not at it’s best in an ER/hospital circumstance), appoint a friend or family (usually 2 in case one is not available) who knows how to step into that scene and manage it for you. The spouse can come and go and support in whatever way is best…the managing friend can delegate, and a team will work much better. We are each a component in the machine that is necessary.
Typically, male brain likes to take tasks through to completion one at a time, and so asking for one thing (big or small) at a time will work much better.
This is why it can work much better at home (for the second circumstance to negotiate) when sick, because that is a one at a time kind of thing – or it can be. Make sure to ask for what you need and schedule it out a bit.
Verbal communication is essential, mind reading won’t happen and those kinds of expectations are a set up for failure. Communication that is indirect, subtle or that involve mind reading won’t work for either of you.
Make the agreement for the well partner to come in and check at least every hour or even a bit more (use a timer). Keep certain things up, like hot water for tea or soup or medications. Keep up the essential things that the sick partner did as much as possible.
Couples have birth plans when they have children – they are very specific about who needs to do what and when. Take a look online and you will see many great examples that can inspire some ideas of what to cover and tailor it to each of your own health needs.
This is the same thing, just with different components. IT IS SO IMPORTANT.
Schedule a date this week, have great ambiance and some take out and write it all out, then set it up with the friends and family that you are looking to be your medical partners and offer the same for them.
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Sasha Esposito San Roman, MA, MFT