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You and your partner

Most couples have a lot on their plate. Whether it's paying the bills or juggling work and family, it can be hard to find time for each other. But disability or illness can lead to added strain.

Suddenly there are a million more things to do – organising care, sharing your home with careworkers, dealing with an army of medical professionals. It's important to acknowledge that caring for the person you love can put strain on your relationships.

There is another side though. Many couples who have faced long-term illness or disability will tell you how it has brought them closer and deepened their love in ways they never thought possible. But everyone is different and much might depend on the nature of the illness or disability you are dealing with.

Changing roles

"I miss my partner even though he's still here. I love him to bits and I feel guilty even thinking it, but I do miss how it was. That closeness we had before. We're still close but it's different somehow. He used to protect me and I leaned on him but now I'm the one who has to be strong and protect him. It's not easy to change."

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Feeling lonely

"I'm the one keeping it all together but no one looks out for me. Even allowing myself to think like that feels like I'm betraying her, like I'm being selfish. On my darkest days I even think about having an affair. I'd never actually do anything but I still feel this terrible guilt."

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Becoming isolated

"Since Geoff had his stroke we barely see our friends anymore. Everyone was really keen in the first few weeks but it's dropped off since. We don't get invited out anymore and a lot of the time I'm too tired anyway. Geoff's routine is important so we don't like to break it. The end result is we're often stuck in this house for weeks on end and barely see another person."

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Getting support

If you identify with any of these feelings, there are many different sources of support that could help. In the first instance, you could speak to your GP and see if they can recommend any local services, such as social prescribing, talking therapies or counselling groups. Relate also has a lot of useful guidance and information about local groups:

To connect with other carers, you could join our forum or reach out to a local carer group in your area. Many will have advice and support sessions to help you deal with some of the emotional challenges you're going through.

You can look yours up via our local directory: We are also launching a Listening Support Service which provides a number of dedicated sessions to enable you to talk about what is bothering you to someone who will listen and offer an understanding and supportive ear. Although short term, this could offer the turning point you need to enable you to build up your emotional resilience. Keep an eye on our website for more details about this service.

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