When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, the whole family is affected and especially the spouse.
If your husband or wife has recently been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may already feel the negative impacts on your relationship. Diabetes is hard on a marriage. According to a study conducted by the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes and their partners have additional emotional and relational difficulties in their relationships.
Far from being a classic article about “how to love and care for your diabetic husband”, we’re answering here a series of random questions wives and husbands of newly diagnosed diabetics may feel embarrassed or shy to ask.
Related article: A thoughtful guide to dating someone with type 1 diabetes
My diabetic partner sleeps all the time: Should I shake him up?
Behind the smiling faces lies a serious difficulty. Fatigue is a common symptom of diabetes. The chronic health condition may impact your spouse’s energy levels, and many diabetics often feel tired or even lethargic at times.
According to this study, people with type 2 diabetes are 10 times more likely to suffer from fatigue than people without diabetes. It can be the direct result of blood sugar levels but also stress, sleep disorders, hard work, or emotional fatigue.
After meal hyperglycemia
You may have noticed that your husband or wife often feels wiped out after meals. When blood sugar is high, glucose can’t enter the cells and provide the body with sufficient energy, causing fatigue and sometimes lethargy.
Most of the time, they should feel better when their blood glucose is back to normal. Encourage them to check their sugar monitor and maybe look back on their carbohydrates or medications intakes if they’re open to it. If after meal tiredness happens regularly (more than a few times a week), there may be a need for diet or treatment readjustment.
Meanwhile, try to be understanding and let your partner rest for a while after lunch or dinner. They’ll help clear the table and wash the dishes when they feel better. What’s the rush, really?
However, if your partner’s state of fatigue is chronic, this may be a sign of other issues.
Sleep disorders are common among diabetics who are at higher risks of suffering from sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or insomnia. Blood sugar fluctuations overnight may also affect your husband or wife’s sleep quality by causing dehydration, frequent urination, or awakenings with shakiness and excessive sweating. If that’s the case, encourage your spouse to see their doctor for a proper diagnosis and effective treatment if necessary.
Related article: How to comfortably sleep with an insulin pump?
Diabetes burnout and depression
Your husband may also be sleeping all the time because of emotional issues. Keep in mind that diabetes also affects mental health like any chronic health condition. Your husband might be emotionally overwhelmed by the relentlessness of diabetes. Numerous studies are showing that diabetics are indeed at higher risks of emotional fatigue, gloominess, stress, anxiety, and even depression.
As a caring spouse, keep an eye out for signs of burnout or depression. Try to communicate with your partner and show support. If you feel like this is out of your skills, suggest seeing a therapist or joining diabetic support groups.
Related article: How Does Mounjaro Work for Diabetes and Weight Loss?
Can I get pregnant if my husband has diabetes?
Absolutely! Diabetes should not pose any serious fertility problems if properly managed. A priori, your husband’s diabetes should not be an obstacle to you getting pregnant.
Some studies have linked diabetes and male infertility but bear in mind that the impacts really start appearing when blood sugar levels have been uncontrolled for many years.
However, poorly managed diabetes and high blood sugar are known to cause sexual issues that may affect your husband's sex life and consequently his ability to get you pregnant. These include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Delayed ejaculation
- Reduced sperm quality
- Low testosterone level
- Decreased libido
Related article: Can diabetes cause glaucoma?
My husband has diabetes erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is common in men with diabetes. Several causes can be responsible here like blood vessel damage caused by poor blood sugar control, blood pressure issues, tiredness, or diabetes-induced depression.
If your diabetic husband has erectile dysfunction, it’s important to communicate about it. Like for any marriage, communication is key here and may even solve the problem when the causes are psychological.
But if your husband’s sex problems come from physical or physiological issues, he may need medical attention. Most erectile dysfunctions in men with diabetes are treatable.
Meanwhile, do not hesitate to seek counseling if you feel like you and your husband need help to find a way to cope or improve your intimacy.
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Is diabetes transferrable from husband to wife/wife to husband?
No, diabetes is not transferrable from husband to wife nor from wife to husband. In fact, diabetes is not transferrable at all! It is not a contagious disease. Science is very clear about that and there's no place for doubt that you can't catch diabetes from another person.
Lifestyle, poor food habits, and lack of physical exercise are some of the most common risk factors for type 2 diabetes. If you share these unhealthy habits with your husband, you may very well be at a higher risk of developing diabetes too in the future.
Why is my diabetic husband always hungry?
Hyperphagia or polyphagia (excessive feelings of hunger) mostly affect type 1 diabetics or type 2 diabetics treated with insulin.
If your diabetic husband (or wife) is always hungry, it’s most probably due to too much insulin or too low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). There's no emotional component like for binge eating, as it's a real physical sensation of hunger.
Diabetic hyperphagia is very hard to control and there’s no “treatment” for it apart from controlling blood sugars and mastering insulin therapy.
Living with someone who is always hungry can put extra stress on the relationship. Spouses can support their partners by encouraging them to a few habits that may help control hyperphagia such as treating a low blood sugar event rapidly, cooking high-fiber meals, reminding your husband to drink enough water, exercising together through hunger, reducing stress levels at home, always keeping healthy snacks accessible, etc.
Related article: 10 Best diabetic snacks on the go for travels and road trips
How to keep cool with my diabetic spouse’s mood swings?
Mood swings are a common behavioral disorder in people with diabetes and they can be very hard for a diabetic’s wife or husband to put up with.
Because of the condition, your partner isn’t always able to control his or her mood. Diabetes causes great variations in blood glucose levels that are proven to cause rapid changes in one’s mood. While your husband may wake up perfectly happy and joyful, hypoglycemia or high blood sugar after breakfast may cause him to suddenly feel irritated, crabby, or even aggressive sometimes.
While these mood swings place a great strain on a relationship, keep in mind that your husband (or wife) isn’t being himself (or herself) for reasons he can't control. Learn to recognize the signs of low or high blood sugar in your partner's behavior so you know if diabetes is at fault or if they're just being rude.
In the first case, the best thing to do is to keep your cool and wait for his blood glucose to get back to normal range. In the second one, do as you would do with anyone who’s being rude to you!
Related article: What happens if you miss a dose of insulin?
My diabetic husband/wife won't take care of them
Watching your life partner give up on themselves is heartbreaking and revolting. As a wife or husband, you want your loved ones to be happy, and healthy, and take good care of themselves.
It’s not uncommon for diabetics to go through times of suffocation and despondency where they feel like giving up. But this can quickly take them on the road to major health complications.
What to do when your husband or wife won’t take care of themselves really depends on their personality and your relationship. There’s no easy and universal answer here. While some would greatly appreciate the help, others would reject any intrusion.
Depending on your unique situation, you may help by preparing healthy meals, encouraging diabetes education, accompanying him to doctor's appointments, talking through mental health issues, suggesting physical activities together, considering therapy, etc.
In any case, remember that if your spouse does not want to take care of their diabetes, there most probably is an underlying psychological issue at the root of the problem. Adding pressure and judgmental lessons can only do worst and engender a sense of failure that rarely promotes motivation.
Related article: The ultimate checklist for traveling with diabetes
Are there any diabetic spouse support groups?
There are a lot of support groups for diabetics in the United States and most of them are open to spouses and partners.
The American Diabetes Association has offices everywhere that can help you connect with local groups. Their online community is also a great source of support for diabetics and their families.
Related article: All you need to know about diabetes family camps
If you’re on social media like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you can join numerous support groups specially dedicated to spouses of diabetics.
You’re also free to share your questions, worries, doubts, and experiences as the partner of a diabetic below in the comment section. We’d be happy to help.
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