Spouses of type 1 diabetics -how to stay supportive

Hi - my husband and I have been married for 8 years and he is Type 1 diabetic. We both work full time, and we have 2 kids ages 5.5 and 3. He has really struggled for a while now - lots of ups and downs over the years. He is getting better about not trying to beat himself up about mistakes he makes or poor results and tries to take each day as it comes.

Not only does he suffer from T1 but he is a poor sleeper and has generalized anxiety about his health . He is also an introvert and sometimes has a hard time opening up. I try to be supportive but sometimes I can't help getting upset when he can't help with the kids, can't participate in family events, or keeps getting sick . I know that he tries hard and doesn't want to be a burden on anyone. I really do want to be supportive but I am tired a lot too and his issues tend to wear on me. I then feel guilty that I am not being more supportive.

I know that these situations are not easy and there is no quick fix, but I would love any tips that any of you may have on coping with this. Sometimes everything gets so overwhelming and I want to just leave. But I made a commitment to my husband, and I love him. He is my best friend. I need to find ways to manage when things are hard and focus on the small victories, like when he is actually up for doing things with the family, is in a good mood,etc.

Thanks for your help!

I sleep very poorly when my blood sugar is out of whack. I notice when I have it within my target range that I can sleep thru the night. This might be part of his problem. And when I don’t sleep it’s hard to function. To me the key is getting the blood sugar under control. Then I have the energy to help my family and stay well. Without knowing your husband or his challenges I can only offer what works for me. Hope it helps.


since i am the one with the disease i am always wondering if my tiredness is natural for all people my age? after working all day, do normal people feel as exhausted as i do? i have had everything tested (thyroid etc…) in the end, is life just exhausting or do the rollercoaster blood sugars poop me out more than a healthy person? who can say? regardless, i sometimes feel sorry for my partner as she has chosen to be with me and therefore she must endure all of my diabetic dramas. something in your discussion felt like there could be depression involved? perhaps for both of you?


Even though we all need help and support diabetes is a solo disease. The individual has to decide to take care of themselves. Sometimes it is a light that turns on they see that it is what it is. If he wants to watch the kids go up he has to work at it.

the link is to a book that can be read on-line by Dr. Richard Bernstein a type 1 since 1946.

The one thing that you can do is if you see him do something right praise him. Don’t comment when he makes mistakes. I think we all beat ourselves up when we do something that is detrimental to our care, eat too much, too much of the wrong thing. You have to forget that shoot to correct and move on.

If your BG’s are always going up and down this takes a lot out of you physically. You will be tired all the time. Over correcting for lows will drive you from 50 to 300 in 30 min and that is stressful to the body.

This is great advice -thanks!

I always think about the stress on my boyfriend, even if he swears it doesn’t bother him. But waking him up in the middle of the night, making noise and sweating my brains out must be stressful! He is so good with it, and I love and appreciate him for it. I guess he is honest when he says “It doesn’t matter much in the whole wonderful picture of you and me”. I guess those kind of thoughts are how we get through the little incidences and hang-ups.

My husband is a busy man, and I usually do the worrying for the both of us. He has no choice but to trust that I’m doing what I’m suppose to, it would drive me nits if he was on my case all the time. Even though they can be random, his praise or disapoijtment is something I do notice. Sometimes I’ll hide the bad days, or give him a straight answer, but I do like sharing the good moments. I do find it funny that he can tell if I’m hungry or low, usually I’m grouchy when I’m hungry and silly when I’m low. The best thing is knowing that he is there for me when I need it, and that he listens when I do want to talk about it.

Thanks Domo -my husband was dumping on me a lot a while back and I got to a point where I told him that I couldn’t hear it. I needed to hear about the good days too. He says that when he is having a good day he is usually not thinking about his D, so that’s why he doesn’t talk about it. It’s been hard b/c in Feb he had a severe panic attack that led to a bad bout of insomnia. He is still working on these issues. I am not a very patient person so I really need to work on this, because patience from me is what he needs. He is working on things and making some progress, but I really wish he was seeing a therapist on a regular basis to deal with his anxiety issues. He says I need to trust him that he will take that step when he needs to.

Therapists have said that he has anxiety, not depression. As for me, well, I think I am a bit depressed but my therapist isn’t worried about me in terms of depression. I realized recently that I need to work on making myself happy and not depend on him completely for my happiness. I need to learn to deal with his issues w/o resenting him or making him feel like he is a burden. But this all seems easier said than done. His issues (T1, sleep problems, anxiey, social anxiety) have taken a toll on me. I love him and want to support him but sometimes I find it really hard, especially when I am tired.

Your boyfriend sounds really sweet. You are lucky to have him! I need more of his kind of attitude. I tend to get wrapped up in how his issues affect me, since we have 2 kids and I work full time and am often tired and have to get things done if he is having a low and can’t help. I knew when I married him that I would need to take on more of the load when it came to caring for the kids and taking care of things around the house. But living it day to day has sometimes been hard and sometimes I question my ability to keep going. What my husband needs is a supportive wife, not one who makes him feel badly about himself. That’s why I am here - to try to find support from others who can relate to my situation and provide advice. Thanks!

RR…Of course you are tired and short of patience. Having 2 small kids and a full time job is physically draining. Having to put aside your own stress and try to focus on someone else’s issues at the same time is emotionally exhausting. There are support groups for people who are care givers for invalid loved ones and there are women who enjoy their nights out with friends to relieve the stress of being the non-stop Mom on duty. I’m not sure where someone like you is supposed to get this. You probably don’t have time or energy for support groups or Girls Night Out. While of course you want to be supportive of your husband and perhaps influence his level of compliance, you can only really control how you take care of yourself. No tips on coming to peace with how things are, but if it helps, it sounds to me that you are doing a fantastic job juggling your life at this stage. Keep talking to us…we are always here.

Hi Elaine -thanks for your response and for your support. I do get out with friends a couple times a month at least. That definitely helps. I am just having a hard time with the day to day -not knowing what will be going on with my husband’s health from each day to the next, what mood he’ll be in, etc. Based on some of the ways I’ve responded to some of his struggles, my husband worries about how I might react if he develops severe complications, and sometimes I wonder about this as well…

It must be hard to have those worries, for both of you.