Love Conquers Diabetes

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Secret weapon beats hidden stress

If you--or your partner-have diabetes, you already know it can affect everything--from your sex life to the timing of Saturday night restaurant reservations.

Now, a new study from the State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, shows that a good marriage can actually help you cope better with the hidden stress of living with diabetes. When researchers checked on 78 married couples--each with a spouse who used insulin to treat type 1 or type 2 diabetes-this is what they found,

>In happy couples, people with diabetes felt more satisfied about daily self-care chores, such as blood tests, insulin shots, and food choices.

>In disgruntled couples, people with diabetes felt emotionally distressed and overwhelmed (Diabetes Care, July 2002).

In intimate marriages, partners talk more about the diabetes. They work together more as a team," says researcher Paula M. Trier, PhD, who did the research with Ruth Weinstock, MD, PhD, of Joslin Diabetes Center in Syracuse, NY. "But in a relationship with lots of conflict, you feel alone. Your partner may resent your needs, or you may hide them."

Here's how to help you both cope better.

>Talk about how your diabetes affects your nondiabetic spouse. Your partner may feel scared at the prospect of the future complications you may face or overwhelmed by your needs.

>Sort out your jobs. Tell your spouse what you need: a good listener, help with healthy food choices, or coming along to a doctor's appointment to learn more, for example. Reassure her that you're doing your best to take care of yourself.

>Consider short-term counseling. You can resolve negative feelings that get in the way of intimacy.

PHOTO (COLOR): Happy means healthy.

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