The sad truth of the matter is this—human beings get sick from time to time. No great revelation here, but when your doctor or the doctor of your spouse or lover tells you that "surgery is required" it can be traumatic—to both of you! It can definitely ruin your day.
When we get married we promise to love and cherish each other "until death do us part." Those are the traditional marriage vows most all of us recite when we get married.
But the fact of the matter is that sometimes those vows are challenged because your spouse gets sick. Sometimes your spouse actually has a health challenge that can only be fixed by surgery. And let’s face it, taking your spouse in for surgery is scary as hell!
Here are TWELVE facts you should consider when surgery becomes part of your life and that of your spouse or lover:
1. Always remember the first rule of surgery, it is "minor" surgery if it is performed on someone else. It’s "major" surgery when it is performed on you! Do not under any circumstances minimize the risks involved in surgery, even so-called minor surgery. Surgery is scary, period! It is often traumatic. Do not minimize your spouse's fear or your own.
2. Be an advocate for your lover prior to and following surgery. When they have surgery stay with them as much as you can in their hospital room to help bath them, make sure they take their medicine, to monitor their intake of food and nutrients, etc.
3. The greatest risk following surgery is infection. Monitor the cleanliness of the room, nightstand, their clothing, and their body. And always remember to brush the hair out of their face, hold their hand, and smile a lot. Smiling helps minimize both fear and pain.
4. Recognize going into surgery that there will be both emotional and physical aspects involved in recuperation. Do your best to be supportive of them during the important recuperation time. Do your best to perk them up, make them laugh and smile, and keep their mind off of their physical pain and oftentimes poor emotional state due to exhaustion and stress.
5. Recognize that you will probably be the first person to see your spouse following their surgery. Be supportive and put on a happy face. Surgery is not just something the one you love experiences—you both experience it.
6. Avoid conflict with your recuperating lover following their surgery. The last thing either of you need is anger and argumentation during this period of time. Chill out!
7. When you take your spouse home make sure you have prepared their bed and the room they will be staying in. They will want to go to their room and settle in without you frantically getting the room prepared. Pre-planning the room arrangements with your spouse will go a long way towards making their homecoming non-stressful and comfortable.
8. Keep in near constant communication with them for the week or so following surgery. They need to know you care and you need to know from them how you can be supportive.
9. Attend to their needs before and after surgery, but recognize that the sooner they can start taking care of themselves again, the better. A high degree of independence is of paramount importance to most human beings. Respect that need in your spouse.
10. The good news is this—most people who undergo surgery come through the ordeal with flying colors. Do not go into surgery with an attitude of, "Woe is me (us)." Surgery usually turns out AOK. Expect the best, but be a realist. Your spouse or lover’s physician will do his or her best. They are highly trained and experienced. The odds of getting well following surgery are in your spouse or lover's favor. Put trust in the medical team, particularly your surgeon. Hope for the best.
11. Constantly tell your spouse or lover that you love them. You can never say, "I love you," often enough. Say it frequently as you look your significant other directly in their eyes. You have no idea how much power these three words have when it comes to healing!
12. Every time you are with your spouse or lover give them a big hug. Hugs are amongst the greatest elixirs of life. Hugs are among the best promoters of good health. Never forget that the human touch has healing power beyond belief. When the one you love has surgery, they need your hugs. Hug them a lot!
Surgery isn't fun. Surgery isn't grand or glorious. But the truth is, surgery can save your life and can, at the very least, greatly improve the quality of your life. See surgery as a healing opportunity. Just imagine your life or the life of the one you love without it.
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts
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