*Talk about the condition and how you are all feeling. If you find it too hard to initiate a conversation about it try writing it down first. You don't have to show anyone but it'll help you clarify your feelings. You could maybe write a letter to your partner, friend or family member expressing how you feel and encourage them to do the same.

Relationships on Female First

Relationships on Female First

*Depending on your situation, you may experience feelings of loss and mourning for the relationship you've had up until now and perhaps some of your hopes for the future. It's okay to feel sad about this - even angry. Long-term health conditions can change things and this can seem like a kind of bereavement, but it's also an opportunity for growth as your relationship changes and possibly deepens.

*When a partner, friend or family member has taken on the role of carer, it can change the dynamic of the relationship so try and put some time aside to spend quality time together outside of those patient/carer roles.

*Allow one another breaks to go and do your own thing and have some 'me time'. If this isn't possible, ask if family and friends will step in and give a helping hand.

*Don't presume to know how your partner feels. If you can, keep checking with them rather than working on assumptions. Having feelings taken for granted rather than discussed can be the cause of any relationship breakdown, even when both parties are healthy.

*Whichever one of you is living with a long term health condition, remember you are both still essentially the same people who fell in love with one another. Don't think the condition has to define you OR your relationship.

*Some behaviours may be symptoms of a condition, for example a Diabetes diagnosis can cause behavioural changes and mood swings. It's important that your nearest and dearest understand what the symptoms of your condition might be, as this can stop people from taking things personally.

*It may all feel very confusing for you, your partner and family so maybe consider seeking counselling either together or apart to explore how this is affecting you. If one or both of you has a strong trusted friend you can talk to as well, this can be enormously beneficial.

by Relate Counsellor Denise Knowles