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.
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.
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:
- Visit the Sanctuary Christian Counseling website. Connect with them on Facebook and Pinterest.
- Visit the CrisiscComm LLC website and connect on Facebook and Twitter.
- Read Ellen’s Travel Blog, Two2Go, and connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- What’s your phase of practice? Click here to get full access, totally free!
Check out these additional resources:
- How I got through sexual abuse and the death of 7 people in two years with Sonia Trefflich | POP 746
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Meet Joe Sanok
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.
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