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You and your partner

If you are in a relationship, you may find strength and comfort in knowing that you and your partner are facing the cancer together. But cancer can both strengthen and strain a relationship – and it challenges even the best relationships.

While you may be the one diagnosed with cancer, your partner is living with cancer as well. Your partner may be as afraid, angry and shocked about what you are facing as you are. But each of you may cope with the situation very differently. One of you may be more hopeful than the other. One may want lots of information about cancer while the other doesn’t want to know much. And one of you may be more comfortable asking for help or talking about how you feel.

These strategies can help keep your relationship strong.

Talk to each other about what you are thinking and feeling. Be as open and honest as you can be about all your feelings, good and bad. Don’t feel guilty about feeling angry, scared, frustrated and resentful. They are normal reactions to cancer.

Be sensitive. It’s OK to keep difficult or emotional discussions for another day if one of you is having a bad day or is in a bad mood.

Remember how you’ve coped together in the past. Think about what strategies worked and what didn’t. Write a list of things you both can do to keep your relationship strong.

Make a plan for how to handle the household tasks such as taking care of children, cleaning, cooking and laundry. Keeping a daily routine can help you, your partner and your children cope.

Take a break from focusing on cancer. Talk about and do other things together. Plan a date night and do something that lets you think about something besides cancer.

Take short breaks from each other. You may need time alone to not feel like “the cancer patient.” Your partner may need a rest and time away from worrying about you.

Get help if you need it. You and your partner may need to see a family therapist, either together or separately. Support groups for partners can also be helpful.

Stories

Catherine Coulson Slowly, it dawned on me that I, too, could be a survivor

Read Catherine's story

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