Two joined hands with wedding rings with text overlay: Dating Your Spouse, Chronic Illness Style

Dating Your Spouse, Chronic Illness Style

My Hubby and I went on a date the other day. It was really just a short drive and lunch at one of our favorite places, but it was a time that we set aside just for one another; time for us to enjoy each other’s company and reconnect.

Pasture with wooden fence in foreground, mountains in the background
One of the Views on Our Drive

When we think of “dates” we usually think of going somewhere romantic and doing something “special.” There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but when you live with fibromyalgia or another chronic illness, sometimes that kind of date can be too much.

Dining area of an old train station that was converted into a restaurant; a favorite date place
The Old Train Station That’s Now a Restaurant

Although my Hubby and I do go out on those dinner dates occasionally, I’ve found daytime dates to be much more manageable. Since my energy levels are much better during the day (which makes me more fun to be around) we’re both able to enjoy ourselves more.

It’s important to take the time to nurture our relationships. “Dating” our spouse or significant other is one thing that can help us. 

If we live with a chronic condition, it can become even more important. Why? Because we can have some pressures on our relationships that other couples may not have.

What are some of those pressures?

  • It’s easy to become self centered when we feel horrible all the time. Almost all our energy and concentration can go toward trying to feel less awful. Dating our spouse or significant other reminds us that there’s another equally-important person in the relationship.
  • We can start to lose our feeling of autonomy – our independence.  Dating allows us to spend time  together as equal partners. In an effort to help us, our spouses may start to make decisions for us and that can make us feel like children again. Dating guards against that, as it helps both people see the other as an equal partner on this life journey.
  • If we’re not careful, our relationships can become more of a caregiver/patient – type relationship. Our  spouses or significant others may have to do a lot of things for us that they never used to, but we don’t want them to feel they’re only our  caregiver instead of the person we love and want to spend our lives with.

Setting aside that time to connect and spend quality time  with our partner can keep our relationships strong in spite of the additional pressures we face.

Although we call it “dating” it certainly doesn’t have to look like traditional dating. We just need to set aside some time to spend on our relationships. As I mentioned earlier, although my Hubby and I do go on some traditional dinner dates, more often we do daytime activities that we enjoy doing. Making those fun memories together strengthens our bond and helps us remember why we fell in love in the first place.

Some more relaxed “date” ideas:

  • Lunch at a favorite restaurant. Because energy levels can wane in the evening, lunch is a great alternative to dinner for many of us.
  • Watch a sporting event together. I know, I know….. this is probably not an attractive option for many of us, but for those of us who enjoy sports, it can be a great time of bonding while cheering for our favorite teams. As I mentioned in Football, Food, and Fibromyalgia, my Hubby and I love to fix snacks and watch the game together.
  • Watch a favorite movie. Are there certain movies you watched while you were dating that bring back good memories? Or maybe those movies that really make you laugh and feel good? Watching them together can bring back all those great feelings you first had when watching them.
  • Pack a picnic and take it to the local park. The picnic doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You could even just pick up a couple of sandwiches somewhere and take them to the park to eat outside. The food isn’t what’s important; the time to connect with your loved one is.
  • Have a nice cheese plate on the back porch. A cheese plate and your drink of choice on the porch or patio is a fantastic way to refresh and reconnect. I know this might not work for everyone, as so many of us don’t eat dairy, but it’s one of our favorite things to do in nicer weather. It gives us a chance to just sit and talk, and enjoy one another’s company, with no interruptions.
  • Take a walk together. Walking together can be a great way to spend some time together and talk about the things that matter. It’s even better if you can do it out in nature. We’re extremely fortunate, as we have lots of well-maintained trails in our area that make “nature walks” easily accessible.

The bottom line is, it doesn’t really matter what we do as much as it does that we do it. Taking the time to nurture our relationships is important for everyone, but when we have extra pressures on them, it becomes even more vital.

Do you agree that dating your spouse or significant other is important? What are some of your favorite “date” activities? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

27 comments

  1. Hey Terri, this is such an important topic! I love reading all of your advice and dating your spouse is a very important topic. Chronic illness is something that can very easily take over every aspect of your life and dating can bring some normalcy into your life. About a year ago I started to write a post about going on a date with someone who is chronically ill and never posted it as I didn’t think it was helpful…….but as I was reading your post, I realize I am not the only one who believes that it is necessary to keep a relationship with your spouse going through special time together. Thank you so very much for all you do for other Terri! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely (as always!) comment Wendi! I agree with you that dating can bring that sense of normalcy into our lives. As you said it’s easy for chronic illness to take over every aspect of our lives. I hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Blessings to you!

  2. Aww I’m so glad you go on dates, and I totally agree the notion of what a ‘date’ is doesn’t have to be the stereotypical romantic thing at all. It doesn’t have to be fancy, cost a small fortune, or be something that drains energy you don’t have to spare. It can be small things, more manageable and whatever time is best for you with your symptoms. Love these ideas!  ♥
    Caz xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I think the most important thing about dating is just setting aside time to spend with the one we love and giving them the attention they deserve. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend! Sending love and hugs!

  3. Very important! We eat out together at least once a week (our aged aunt lives with us). We also watch recorded TV shows and watch them together. I’m trying to get more energy to walk more now that it is cooler.

    1. Thanks for sharing Ruth! I’m so glad you’re able to set aside time to spend with just the two of you. That one on one time is so important for relationships, isn’t it? Hope you’re doing well. Blessings to you dear friend!

  4. We go on dates Terri and I love it, I get all dressed up and since we moved near the seaside we go out a bit more often in the day to try new places to eat. It’s essential to keep your life as busy as you can manage. 😀

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Bar! I’m glad you guys make time to go out on dates. I can only imagine you have LOTS of new places to try now that you’ve moved close to the seaside. Here’s wishing you many more dates ahead! Blessings to you sweet friend!

  5. Terri, this was such an amazing post on a very important topic. Finding time to go on dates with my husband have been so incredibly difficult for numerous reasons. My husband have not worked in over 2 years and he is a night owl. On the other hand I do work and get up early, plus haven’t ever really been a night owl. My husband stays up so late and I try, but by doing that I am only causing myself many more issues. I do think it is important to find time to reconnect with our spouses because if we don’t, it could cause to much distance. Great post with fantastic information!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Alyssa! I’m sorry you find it so hard to go on dates with your husband. With people being so busy all the time it’s hard to set aside that special time sometimes. I hope you’re able to find a way to connect, even if only for a few minutes at a time. Blessings to you sweet friend!

      1. Thank you so much! I won’t get too much into it, but things have been difficult lately. My husband hasn’t worked in over 2 years and continues making promises that never stick. I think I am just frustrated and tonight things got even more frustrating for me. Patience is a virtue, but I think sometimes things just spiral out of control. There are most issues than just the job situation and can’t really share the other issues online where family could read. Thank you for your kind words Terri. The crazy thing is, when we went to the beach we did connect again because we are a good couple with lots of love for one another.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Melinda! I agree that it can be easy to let dating go by the wayside. That’s why my Hubby and I have come up with alternatives to “traditional” dating. It allows us to reconnect even when we don’t have a lot of time or energy. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Blessings to you!

  6. Excellent post Terri. Great advice for all couples. I look forward to retiring soon and having more time for lunch dates with my hubby who has already retired. For his birthday, we took a 2 hour drive to visit a few apple orchards. Fun time in the car and I turned off work phone. Inexpensive date but time together is priceless.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Sarah! I’m sure you’re both looking forward to spending even more one-on-one time together. As you said, “time together is priceless.” We’ll plan to go on a double-date while you guys are here in January. Love you!

  7. Great post Terri, such an important topic… chronic illness takes its toll not only physically, but on all of our relationships, moreso on those closest to us! While many of us took the vow, “In sickness and in health,” I know for certain neither one of us ever imagined what was ahead, and how our hopes and plans would be challenged by chronic disease. We need to make a special effort in the face of these challenges, thanks for the ideas and sharing your experience.

    1. Thank you so much! I’m sorry for the delayed response, but your comment ended up in my spam folder for some reason. I agree that our hopes and plans can be challenged by chronic illness – that’s why I feel it’s so important for us, as you said, “to make a special effort in the face of these challenges.” Thanks so much for stopping by. Blessings to you!

  8. Hubby & I do this often, our favorite dates are a scenic drive with a picnic lunch or cuppa at the end, nature or seaside walks together or whale watching from shore, ship spotting with a thermos flask cuppa & treats. All daytime activities, as like you, night isn’t a good time.
    Great post Terri!
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Jennifer! These all sound like wonderful ways to spend time together. When we lived in Florida we used to love to see the dolphins out swimming. I can only imagine how exciting it is to see whales! Blessings to you sweet friend!

  9. This is beautiful and these are great suggestions. My father has fibromyalgia so when you have some time when you’re not feeling as bad you have to take advantage of it. It’s important to “make sure of the more important things” (Philippians 1:10) so I’m trying to set aside more time for dates with my husband. We like to do some of the same things. I love going to basketball games and just watching a movie together. We’ve been together for over 13 years so now we’re trying new things so we don’t get bored. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 mentions “love is patient and kind” and “does not look for its own interests”. I try to keep that in mind when being spontaneous with our dates. Great post!

    1. Thank you so much HeatherJo! I’m glad to hear you and your husband are still dating and that you share some common interests. It’s important to set aside time for one another. No matter how long we’re married, there are still areas where we can grow and learn about one another, and I think “dates” give us the opportunity to do that. Thanks so much for stopping by. Blessings to you!

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