How I got through serious health issues affecting nearly every part of our marriage with Ellen and Pete Gigliotti | POP 747

A photo of Peter and Ellen Gigliotti is captured. Ellen J.W. Gigliotti, LMFT, is the clinical director. Dr. Peter Gigliotti earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Peter and Ellen Gigliotti are featured on Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

How can a marriage survive consecutive health emergencies? What does it take for both people to feel seen and understood? Why is intentionality vital to maintaining the relationship?

In the twelfth episode of the How I Got Through It series, Joe Sanok speaks about getting through serious health issues affecting nearly every part of their marriage with Ellen and Pete Gigliotti.

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Meet Peter and Ellen Gigliotti

An image of Ellen Gigliotti and Dr. Peter Gigliotti is captured. They are featured on the Practice of the Practice Podcast, a therapist podcast.

Ellen J.W. Gigliotti, LMFT, is the clinical director of Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg, PA. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology, and earned her MA in marriage and family therapy from Evangelical Theological Seminary. She has also done postgraduate work in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, EFT, and sexual addiction.

Dr. Peter Gigliotti earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from St. Bonaventure (N.Y.) University in 1974. After graduation, he began a 14-year career in the media as a reporter or editor for Gannett Co. newspapers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He also served as Director of Public Information for the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs. He earned his Master of Science degree in Communication Studies from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania in 1995 and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2002 from Duquesne University.

He joined Shippensburg University in 1988. As Executive Director for University Communications and Marketing, he was the university’s chief communications officer for 28 years.​

He founded CrisisComm LLC in 2016 after his retirement from the university and provides advice and support to educational, governmental, emergency service agencies, and businesses in a crisis.

Visit the CrisiscComm LLC website and connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit the Sanctuary Christian Counseling website and connect on Facebook and Pinterest.

Read the Travel Blog, Two2Go, and connect on Twitter and LinkedIn.

In this Podcast:

  • Pete’s health scares
  • The importance of maintaining empathy
  • Redefining the relationship
  • Helpful mindsets

Pete’s health scares

In both 2015 and 2019, Pete had health issues that left the doctors concerned that he would not make it.

One of the main issues we had was the fact that for me, the health issues [were] emotionally more draining than physically … it showed me I was not the person I thought I was. (Pete Gigliotti)

At the time, Pete and Ellen had little family to lean on for support during these ominous months and had to cope with a lot of the uncertainty and pain on their own.

We realized how important our lives are together, and it made us stronger and brought us closer together. (Pete Gigliotti)

Dealing with unexpected medical issues over multiple years brought Pete and Ellen closer together.

It made them appreciate their accomplishments, value the time that they have now, and look forward to their goals and dreams in the future with passion and gratitude.

The importance of maintaining empathy

When one spouse is chronically ill or dealing with a health crisis over an extended period of time, it can begin to weigh down on the other spouse who may feel like they are not as important or “seen” as the other.

She was the one who was traveling in the middle of winter in major snowstorms every day [for] about a hundred miles to come and see me … I think in a situation like this, both parties need to empathize with [each other]. (Pete Gigliotti)

You do not necessarily have to put yourself in their shoes but be mindful of and understand that each spouse is battling a different side to the same situation.

Redefining the relationship

It was a huge shift for me. I remember sitting down and saying, “I have to make this, I have to do this. I can’t be his caregiver or our lives as a couple is over, and I don’t want that.” (Ellen Gigliotti)

While a spouse may care for and help their partner who is ill reach recovery, the relationship needs to be redefined to suit what they both want.

A transitional period is normal, but boundaries need to be placed so that each person feels seen, respected, and can agree on what is happening in the relationship moving forward.

Helpful mindsets

Ellen and Pete got through some of the most challenging experiences by:

  • Having a sense of humor and being able to laugh at themselves whenever needed or necessary
  • Planning for the good and the bad when things become uncertain while remaining open to what might change
  • Living out values and passions in daily life
  • Reach out to and spend time with loved ones in your life

I think being intentional about reaching out to communities that understand you, will listen to you, and that you can help, and then they can help you as well. That was crucial in getting through this. (Ellen Gigliotti)

  • Practice intentional and open communication to remain close and on the same page

Useful Links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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