“Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
And we all want the master key right?
Hell I want a whole fistful of master keys so I don’t plan on letting a little case of the old Chronic Fatigue hold me back. Because it’s easy to slip into the mindset that because we are unwell we are unlovable. Well my personal experience suggests this couldn’t be further from the truth. Read my Love Story here.
So now that you realise you’re worthy of Love it’s time to get out your tightest pair of leather pants, drown your self in hypoallergenic perfume/aftershave and seduce the next sexy human you lay eyes on.
And I mean all of you. Even those of you stuck in bed 23 hours and 59 Minutes a day. Use that minute to position yourself close to the door and flash your postman the hottest damn smile you can muster. The risk is worth it. Because Love is the greatest healer of them all! (After Hippocrates of course. And perhaps certain CFS/ME Specialists if their price is anything to go by….).
But before you do take the plunge. Arm yourself with 8 insights from the front line that will ensure the battle is won before it is begun. Because like all things in the world of CFS/ME you have to be strategic………
1. Be clear about your own expectations and prospects for recovery.
From the get go you need to be honest with any potential partners about where you are at with your health. As soon as the time is right (like after the first kiss laying in the sun in a park) lay your cards on the table. I like to use a rating scale out of 10 so as not to sound negative if you are feeling unwell i.e. ‘I’m operating at about 6.5 out of 10 on my energy scale at the moment.
Also without going into to much detail to begin with, let them know what your doing to get better (ie. ‘I’m seeing a specialist from the UK, taking lots of vitamins and generally trying to rest’). And when/or if you expect to get better (ie. ‘Over the next year I expect to by laying pretty low, but then hope to see some improvements, but nothing is for certain). This is a fine balance as it’s important to get across the severity of the condition without overwhelming them. It’s also important to remain realistic in your expectations for recovery so as not to produce a situation where your partner is always expecting you to be just a around the corner from good health. This can produce unnecessary pressure and expectation. After all, things happen how and when they should. I go into more detail on this subject in the article about balancing acceptance and hope.
2. Learn the art of low energy sex.
If you’re able, before long, you’re going to want to make love. Have sex. Get jiggy with it. Or as Shakespeare so aptly put it ‘make the beast with two backs’. The trick is not to get to carried away as its all to easy to get lost in the moment (or moments hopefully) and end up spending your weeks energy in 3 to 30 minutes of bedroom aerobics. Personally I have always found it very difficult holding back in this regard. But I’m learning and reaping the energetic benefits. The solution? Low Energy Sex. After all the point of sexual intercourse isn’t to prove to yourself how long you can last in the sack, its about intimacy, love, connection and lets face it, climax. All these things can easily be achieved with out running the equivalent of a full length marathon.
- Communicate with your partner every step of the way. Get creative. Consider using sex toys or even having an open relationship. After all sex is not everything. But it is important. Talk about it and make it work for you.
- Spend an extra long time on foreplay. Really take your time using your hands, mouth, feet and anything else lying around the kitchen to reach those ecstatic moments before you’ve even begun. This really takes the pressure off the ‘main game’ and reduces the overall level of cardiac output.
- Let your more energetic partner do more of the work. Turn it into a bit of game and I’m sure they will be up for it. Spend more time laying on your back and find other comfortable positions where you can relax while still making love. (Please leave comments below with any exciting laid back positions)
- Don’t have sex so often, but when you do, make it special! Delayed gratification is one way to keep you both hot under the collar. Another idea is to have erotic massages sessions that don’t need to use up all your energy. Take the time to really enjoy each other.
- Regulate the intensity of your lovemaking. Turn it into the equivalent of a medium paced run with periods of rest and a dash for the finish line. Rather than a flat out sprint session.
- Make sure to lay back and rest after you make love. Don’t rush off onto the next activity. Snuggle up and give your body a chance to recover. Perhaps drink some electrolytes.
- Ensure your factoring sex into your daily energy envelope. Its easy to forget how intensive it can be, so depending on the frequency and duration think of it as a session of decent exercise.
- And most importantly be easy on yourself! Some days your just not going to feel up to it. Be realistic, don’t push yourself to hard because when you stay within your limits you ultimately achieve much more. Think tortoise, not hare.
3. Take time out for yourself.
You are no good to anyone if you keep overdoing it. So make some time for yourself each day or each week and just relax, unwind and replenish. This is much easier said than done as when a relationship gets cooking it can be very hard to spend 30 seconds away from each other, let alone a whole day. But be diligent and plan ahead to ensure it happens. I used to go out to the country by myself 2 days a week and used this time to get back in touch with myself, calm my system and ready my body for another weeks living and loving in the city. Find what works for you and have the courage to create self supporting boundaries in your relationship. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
4. Encouraging independence and maintain some separate interests.
This is vitally important for the success of any relationship but in the case of CFS/ME it is especially pertinent. All too often couples quickly become overly entwined in each others lives and without realising it, starve out their own personal interests and sense of independence. When living with CFS/ME there are days when you just need to lie down and rest. And there are nights where going out is the last thing on your mind. However your partner may not feel the same way. When you each have your own set of friends and interests be they music, art, dancing or sport it is much easier to spend positive time apart. On those occasions when you’re feeling unwell encourage your partner to get out there and have some fun! They may feel inclined to stay at home with you out of love. But in my experience its much more rewarding for everyone involved if they shake the guilt, you shake the jealousy, and they go out and paint the town red.
Kahlil Gibran put it beautifully in his book The Prophet when he wrote:
“Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not of one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
5. Constant Communication – A balance between sharing but not burdening.
Keep your lover up to speed with how your feeling. All to often the invisible nature of CFS/ME can lead to misunderstanding as your partner thinks your grumpy when you are actually just in need of a rest. Let them know if your having a really bad day and also when your feeling good! Again using the rating scale out of 10 is a quick and efficient way of communicating how you are faring without going to deeply into the specifics. Share your ups and downs together, but also share their ups and downs together. After all everyone has their own cross to bear. And while it is important to express how you feel, be sure not to burden your lover to heavily with your worries. As no matter what stage you are in your relationship the time you spend together should always be treated with special care. Love needs to be nurtured every step of the way if it is to blossom and survive the wintery spells it will surely endure.
When the time is right make sure your partner has at least a working understanding of what CFS/ME is exactly. Those of us living with the condition have a hard enough time wrapping our heads around it, so imagine how difficult it is for people looking in from the outside. Provide them with a brief, clear and positive explanation of what it’s all about. That way your in it together. Read the article Step 2 ~ Educating yourself about CFS/ME for more information on this topic.
7. Sharing the journey.
Share as many aspects of your healing journey as you possibly can. Being open and honest about how your faring is a start, but you can take it to a whole new level by jumping together hand in hand into a healthy lifestyle. Learn about juicing, yoga, meditation, raw foods, detoxification and relaxation techniques as a couple. Make health a source of fun, adventure and interest for you both. Diet is a great place to start. Challenge each other to take your bodily temples to new levels of vitality and wellbeing. My girlfriend loved to bake cakes. And for her making new creations without sugar, wheat or dairy forced her to think outside the box. Get creative and share the experience. Your relationship will be all the richer for it.
So there you have it. You’re armed and ready to go. Remember all is fair in love and war. So take no prisoners, have no fear and rise high into the stratosphere on the jet streams of romantic love!
Got any other Love insights you’d care to share? Leave a comment telling us all of your secret secrets!