Help in knowing how to support spouse

Hello! My name is Jessica. I’m new to the site. My husband and I have been married for three years, known and been friends for 11 years. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on his 16th birthday. I have tried to do research to understand what is going on with his body, try to be as supportive as I can but he is still very closed off to me about it. I am really having trouble knowing how to support him… without sounding motherly or nagging.

We just had a baby this March… and I notice when his sugar goes low or high… he’s unable to help with the baby at those times which is fine but the hard part for me is watching it happen when I know it was because he wasn’t paying attention or taking care of himself. For instance he just ate over half a cheese pizza, got sleepy, started sleeping and when I woke him because I needed some help he was not in a good mood. He left the room and got his insulin. His levels are constantly dipping and spiking and it’s beginning to make me nervous for how it will affect his long term health. It happens at night too… while he’s sleeping which scares me even more.

I guess my question is… is there any way to help him feel more open to me supporting him? I’m sitting here on the verge of tears as he tries to sleep off the high sugar levels really wanting to voice my concerns but have no idea how to. I try to make good shopping lists, help cook good meals (which has gotten harder with the baby but getting better). He has a dexcom but hasn’t worn it in a year. I’m just at a loss as to how to approach him… Please help!


Welcome to TUD, @Jandy14, this is a really great place full of very experienced people who want to help others dealing with this disease. I’m not necessarily the best person to respond on this but I can start off with one thing that strikes me as significant:

I was in my 20s when I was diagnosed so I was fortunate to miss the experience of dealing with it while still a minor, still in high school, struggling with this weird disease that marks you off as different at a time when fitting in and being popular is so critical. There are others here who can speak to this from personal experience, but a lot of people who lived through dealing with it as kids–not just the disease itself which is hard enough, but the whole social and psychological thing of going through adolescence with it–tend to be much more “closed” about it. There tends to be a lot of sensitivity to other people being aware of it–None of their business!–let alone offering criticism or advice. It also seems to be pretty common for those T1s to go through a lot of turmoil, burn-out and denial when they reach their early 20s and it stops being something that parents and pediatricians ride you about: now it’s your problem. That can be a hard transition.

This all puts you in a tough corner because you are in a position where his self-care is no longer just his concern. With a wife and kid, their safety and well being are irrevocably linked together with his, and–not to put to fine a point on it–he needs to take on board the fact that he’s got the responsibilities of a grown up and needs to act like one, in this area as in many others. Not that that’s easy for any of us, but that’s life. I like how you put it–“knowing how to support” him is the right way to think about it. But bringing up the topic at all without putting him on the defensive is the tricky thing. There can be a lot of anger hiding behind this particular wall. Being an adolescent who has suddenly been singled out for this special piece of ~abnormality!!!~ landing in his life, the gross unfairness of it, and all that, well it sounds like you’re a sensitive person so I’m sure you can already imagine how disorienting and painful and angering it was.

Like I say, I can’t speak from experience about what it’s like being dx’d on your 16th birthday, but I do know something about successful marital relations, having just celebrated my 40th anniversary to a woman I love more deeply every passing year.

One thought is to not approach it as “There’s this problem you need to fix!” but maybe just from the point of view that, hey, you’ve tried to educate yourself about the mechanics of the thing but that doesn’t tell you anything about what it was like. This is a big part of his life’s story, and it’s an entirely appropriate thing for lovers to want to hear and tell those stories. Even–especially–the hard stuff, because that’s what building intimacy is all about. If you can approach it as a matter of discovery and delight, not judgment or nosiness, that may lead to being able to look at how he’s handling it now without there needing to be a confrontation about it. Virtually everyone with T1 has gone through times of doing the absolute minimum (or worse) out of frustration and denial, and the decision to get back into line with it can only come from within; no one else can do it for you; it’s just too constant a thing. There are a lot of things no one from the outside seems to really grasp. Scary stuff like what a bad hypo really feels like–I still remember my first one, over 30 years ago, like it was yesterday. “What was that really like?” can help get across that boundary of “No, you really have no idea what we deal with.”

Just talking about the experience–what actually happened, what was that like–with someone who already cares may help him unlock his own blocks and maybe initiate his own change of perspective. Has he told you the story of that day he was diagnosed–his f’r cripesake birthday no less–what actually happened? What it was like for him? Or what was the most asinine T1-related thing anyone ever said to him? Topic threads like that on forums like TUD are hugely popular, we’ve all got stories to share, and sharing them puts you both on the same side with respect to his T1, which is where you clearly want to be. These specific ideas may not be the right fit but you get the idea. I would just be honestly interested in this part of his story, encourage him to tell you more about it not with any agenda in mind but just because it’s part of finding out more about him and sharing that stuff is part of the richness of being in a relationship. And see what develops from there.


I was diagnosed at age 17 and I did not take care o myself for years. There are some things that happened to help me.

  1. A great Doctor once told me, that when I got tired of feeling sick and tired, I would take care of myself. He was right. I had to get awfully ill before I did, but it did prove to be true. Realy no one else could tell me and if they had I would never have listened.

  2. I finally got help when I entered therapy. Even then it took some time. I know that may seem like a difficult undertaking but it can work. If eh is anything like me, he may be suffering from depression. I got healthier when I got that under control.

Finally, make a statement and consider doing diabetes education classes by yourself. I hated it when my wife knew things I did not. Yeah, I got in sync with her. It is his responsibility but if you start learning he might have fewer corners to hide in.

Good luck.


Your husband is so lucky to have you on his team. Thank you for being proactive and trying to find ways to help. You’ve already received some great advice so far.

I was diagnosed at 14, and I did the diabetes rebel without a shot routine in my 20’s. My parents tried everything they could think of, right down to trying to take me to the hospital against my will as an intervention. Every time they would try to talk to me about taking care of myself I would get angry. I wanted to be left alone to make my own decisions about it.

For me, it was what I now recognize as a bid to regain a sense of life control which I felt I had lost. I was tired of my life being controlled by this disease, so I was going to rip back control of my life by refusing to control the disease. I eventually figured out we have infinitely more life-control by obeying the rules of the disease than we could ever dream of having by trying to buck it. But I had to get there myself.

He’ll get there too, but it may take some time. Love him through it. No heat, no judgment, even when he chooses to do it “wrong”. It will be harder for him to open up to you if he fears judgment. He needs permission to want check out of it, mixed with encouragement to check back into it. If he feels you are approaching it from a place of love and concern for him, and desire for him to be around for you and your child and grandchildren, he will hopefully receive it better than if he feels you are coming at it from a place of anger.

Please keep posting, ask tons of questions and let us help in anyway we can.


All the responses here are great! I wish there was an “Al-Anon” equivalent for non-diabetic friends and family to help with support and detachment.

I’m guessing you are a stay at home mom who’s always there to care for your child, and daddy helps out. Given your concerns about his highs and lows, do you feel safe leaving him alone with your child? I don’t want to sound mean, but you need to keep your child safe. If he won’t listen to you about his self care, you need to find an ally to help you–his doctor, a friend, a diabetes educator who can speak with both of you.

Good luck, and please keep using this site for support. Be well and be safe.


Thank you so much everyone for the advice, encouragement, and insight. I’ve dealt with my mom having been diagnosed with MS when I was in high school but support for her from me has looked a lot different than when I take the wife role, and because he’s been very private about it I’ve tried to give him his space. I will take all these stories into account. I know it’s been a hard road for him and that he still battles with the diagnosis. I will definitely try to ask more questions to better know his story. I did bring up my fears somewhat yesterday as we’ve made a promise not to go to bed upset with each other and he knew I was still somewhat frazzled. We had a good talk and I’m hoping it leads to more good things, I just want him to feel healthy and we both honestly could be better at taking care of ourselves. I really appreciate hearing from everyone.


People have already given you some great ideas and it sounds like you realize this will be an ongoing effort, but one additional thing you might find an appropriate opening to suggest is that your husband himself joins an online support forum, such as this one, if he hasn’t yet.

I get a lot of motivation and practical tips from the diabetes online community (DOC) and regularly find myself sharing things I’ve read on DOC forums with my non-T1D husband.


@Jandy14 – a very apropos new thread from “the other side” (the T1D spouse). Not sure if you have seen it: The best resources for Spouse & T1D support

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Thank you! I will look through those links!

Wow 40 years in a long time. Don’t know too much about the “diabetes” myself but if you’d care to share your hard earned wisdom in the marital arena …( hopeful brief smile)…

Whatever chucklehead came up with the idea that “parenthood” was easy was fibbing big time. Huge fan of the “practice” personally (ggg) … but it’s a heavy lift sometimes.

Pleased to hear you had a helpful talk. Question becomes what actions will occur from it? If it alters his thinking, first and for most you’ve succeeded. Suspect it will take some decent time though… and probably should, IMHE

You are his lover, his wife the mother of his child, that earns you the right to understand his approach… it ain’t a cold, long term means you have to understand so if you must (and only, only if you absolutely must) you will back his butt up…

That said, you both have a baby. The “old ways” don’t apply anymore. The new life needing changed, screaming it’s head off demands his hands too. They “take a village” because mommy and daddy are exhausted.

In your place, here’s what I’d propose. First It’s his (disease) not yours though you want to help him, and need him even more cause you must not, cannot do it all. You need him and love the man in spite of his idiocy, dopeyness, etc. yes?

Sounds like he needs to tweak some things, but if he wants to help you, he needs to rewrite his approach. Hello you
two have a baby… duhhhhh

Sometimes you have to whisper in his ear sometimes you’ll have to kick his butt from one side of the house to the other. Explain to him with the exact same clarity you have used here and you will get his attention assuming he has half a brain ; ) right

You are a voyeur to his disease forced to watch his stumbles, errors, out right screw ups if/when he has them. Sleepy pizza sounds like incorrect timing and baaaad dosage math. Gotta get ahead of that train not behind it.

What other kinds of challenges do you fear with his disease specifically? Expressing “some” of your fears says you held back one or two. Which ones Jess…? (Said respectfully)

Having chronic illness, myself, and having friends/family with chronic illness, I believe that is much more difficult to ‘support someone’ than it is to ‘take care of yourself.’

I have a good friend with bipolar disorder who is one of my BEST allies in diabetes care. My friend has special skills at reading subtle cues that indicate that something is wrong. My friend is very insightful and very good at providing support. We have a very open dialogue about diabetes, which is very beneficial for me. However, it has taken years to have the same sorts of conversations about bipolar disorder. The experience of that illness has been particularly traumatic and painful for my friend.

There is a limit to what you will be able to do. The power to take care of yourself is much greater than someone else’s power to take care if you. Its a difference between night and day. However, because conversations about diabetes were less threatening than conversations about bipolar disorder, my friend and I started there. It is always less threatening to talk about your own experience than to talk about someone else’s. I try to say, “Sometimes I feel like _____ when _____ occurs and it makes me feel bad.” Perhaps you can find an experience (like having a baby) through which you can talk about physical challenges that you have faced. He might have good insight about that and might be more willing to offer up his own experiences in order to help you. Perhaps you can use the experience of supporting a new baby (which he knows about) as a starting point to have discussions about being a ‘caregiver.’

Being a caregiver can be extremely stressful, emotionally draining, and can contribute to physical illness in YOU. There are lots of resources for caregivers online and you can always talk to a psychiatrist about being a caregiver to a new baby and for your husband. Those are not small things. Best of luck to you. Consider a family vacation out to the Diabetes unconference :

"What about our spouses/significant others/friends who love us? Can they attend?

YES! The 2017 Diabetes UnConferences have separate sessions, called People who Love Us (PLU) sessions just for caregivers to talk with peers about diabetes and its impact on the caregivers‘ lives. Sessions may include caregiver burnout, fears, dealing with hypoglycemia, being supportive without “policing,” dealing with medical professionals, and much more."