When we are caring for someone, our relationship with them may change and our relationships with others may be different too.
We opened up this topic in our Cuppa for Carers. The group shared honestly and bravely and valued the time to reflect on their relationships, how they have changed over time and the impact of caring on significant relationships.
Of course, I can't share their stories - but I can share their wisdom.
What do carers say is important in a relationship?
"Humour, honesty, give and take, talking and listening."
These are very simply different ways of showing we care. We are all wired a bit differently and will value different types of communication and we might be different to others around us. Recognising what is important to us, telling people who matter about that and understanding their love language too can be a simple breakthrough in a relationship.
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
Discover your love language here.
The Science of Hugging
According to 'science' (sorry no links to a Harvard Medical Journal article) a hug needs to last at least seven seconds to really work and release oxytocin. This must be true, my 12 year old daughter taught me it! Other schools of science (sorry no link to the British Medical Journal) say that a hug that lasts 21 seconds can release stress. Carers tell me this is true in their experience. So if we can hug someone, let's make it count, and if we can't that might explain why all our happy hormones have plummeted.
Who have we put on a "back-burner"?
When we are focused on our caring responsibilities it is easy to lose sight of other relationships, it's not that we don't care, it may just be unavoidable. We often need a lot of understanding and leeway from our wider friends and family. We might need to let go of any guilt we feel around this.
What about our needs?
We sometimes need to put the person we are caring for first and need others to understand that. We might appear as having very high needs when actually it is probably just something very simple we need - attention, care, a meal, a cup of tea. Be clear about what we need.
Our support system doesn't only have to be those around us. Join our virtual cuppas which from Monday to Friday to connect with other unpaid carers. Join for laughs, a fun chat and real deep conversations! If that is too big a step, visit our Facebook community to connect with other unpaid carers.