Are you feeling stressed and exhausted from dealing with your spouse’s physical disability? Are you unsure on how you can continue coping with your spouse’s physical disability? To help understand what type of impact a spouse’s physical disability can have on a marriage and tips for coping with a spouse’s physical disability, I have interviewed therapist Lynda K. Tyson, Ph.D.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I attended undergraduate school at Regents, the University of the State of New York, receiving a B.A. in Education with a minor in Management. I received a Masters of Human Relations with an emphasis on family dynamics from the University of Oklahoma. I received a doctorate in Human Services with a specialization in Professional Counseling and a Certification in Diversity Studies from Capella University.
In March 2007, I started the MM and T mental health and behavior services in Pensacola, FL. The primary mission of MM and T is to provide mental health and behavioral services for individuals, families, and groups by addressing maladaptive behaviors, and mental/emotional concerns.”
What type of impact can a spouse’s physical disability have on the marriage?
“In my experience a spouse’s physical disability decreases the partnership option. The spouse without the physical disability diagnosis often finds themselves in the role of a parent or a caretaker.”
What are some tips for coping with a spouse’s physical disability?
“Take time out for yourself! Some spouses feel guilty and believe that they are not a good mate if they are not always there to take care of their spouse with the disability. The spouse in the role of the caretaker often neglects their physical and mental well being. This neglect often leads to burn out, which can add additional stressors to the relationship.
When there are no other outlets the person may start to feel imprisoned by the constant care given to their spouse, which may lead to hostile thought and possible actions. They may start to feel as if their lives are no longer their own, especially if they gave up hobbies and friends to care for their spouse.
Caring for the spouse with the physical disability is given out of love and it is frequently the thing that causes their spouse to become dependent on them. Teach and ALLOW the spouse to do the things that they can do for themselves, or if possible solicit help from family and friends. This relief will not only free some of the physical requirements, but allow time for mental relaxation as well.”
What type of professional help is available for someone who is having a difficult time coping with a spouse’s physical disability?
“I recommend therapy and support groups. A therapist will assist the person with understanding their emotions and provide them with strategies and tools to deal with those emotions. Support groups will help them to understand that they are not alone and possibly provide them with strategies that they can use with their spouse.”
What last words would you like to leave for someone that is coping with a spouse’s physical disability?
“Unconditional love is wonderful because it means you love that person regardless of their actions, qualities, behaviors, disabilities, etc. So don’t destroy that unconditional love by placing conditions on yourself by acting as if you are a ‘Super Hero’. Know when your battery is getting low and take time out to recharge it!”
Thank you Dr. Tyson for doing the interview on tips for coping with a spouse’s physical disability. For more information on Dr. Tyson or her work you can check out her website on http://www.mmtmentalhealth.org.
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