When Allergies Affect Marriage: Lighting a Candle
I thought I had ruined a romantic moment recently when my husband asked if he could light a candle while I was cooking breakfast. I quickly said, "I am allergic to soy, and most candles irritate my throat and make me cough." My husband simply took the candle to another room to ensure the scent would not bother me or induce an allergic reaction.
Allergies impact more than the individual
The impact of allergies can extend beyond the person diagnosed with them and to others, like a spouse. In my article about raising awareness of allergies, I shared about this far-reaching impact.
Through this story, I want to offer another glimmer of hope for those in marriages or relationships impacted by allergies.
Listening to my husband's experiences
Though we are 1 in marriage, my husband and I are distinct individuals who sometimes have different views. After the candle incident, I decided to ask my husband how my allergies affect him. His responses surprised me.
At times, I have felt bad about how my allergies affect my relationships, particularly my marriage. I have wondered if my body's reaction to allergens takes away from what I bring to my marriage. I have occasionally felt "less than" because of my allergies.
But my husband assured me he does not see me or my health condition that way at all. He has become used to my allergies. He feels they do not negatively impact his life as much as I thought they did.
Feeling relieved about our shared experiences
I wish I had not waited 7 years into our marriage to ask my husband what he really thinks about my allergies. Hearing his point of view brought me tremendous relief. I even realized that good came from our shared experience with allergies.
Having empathy for my allergies
Some might feel angry about their spouse having allergies or living with other chronic health conditions. Anger is a natural response to something wrong. We want those we love to experience good health.
But my husband does not get mad. Instead, he chooses to help by empathizing with me. He can relate to feeling sad that I miss out on eating things he enjoys, so he uplifts me with his words.
While my husband has had only a few allergic reactions in his life, 1 caused him a temporary loss of sight and trouble breathing. He understands how scary allergies can be. So, he takes me seriously when I say I am allergic or sensitive to a particular food or something in the environment.
Being adaptable to my allergies
In addition to being empathetic to my lived experiences, my husband is adaptable. He has a very easygoing personality. So, he is flexible and often compromises to accommodate my allergies.
Finding some middle ground helps strengthen our relationship because our tastes differ as much as our views. My husband loves sugar; I dislike anything too sweet. He savors spicy food; I cannot handle jalapeños or even black pepper.
Meeting in the middle
Since my husband likes eating various foods, but I have limits on what I can eat, we meet each other halfway. When he is at home, he eats what I eat. When he is at work, he eats the different foods he likes that I can't have. And I still buy my husband's favorite snacks even though I can't enjoy them.
Focusing on gratitude
My husband chooses to have a good attitude. He focuses on the things for which he is grateful. For instance, he says he eats healthier at home because of my food restrictions due to allergies.
Sometimes I get frustrated with my own special dietary needs, especially when we dine together outside of our home. The downside to having allergies is that they can dominate my thoughts so much that I avoid eating out.
On the other hand, my husband notes how the restaurants are willing to work with my allergy restrictions. And, of course, he is grateful that he can order "his food" and I can order "my food."
Bringing it back to candles
While shopping online a few weeks ago, I came across a pretty pillar candle that uses batteries to shine. I am thankful that I bought the candle, which adorns our dining table and lights up meals with my family.
The candle reminds me of the unity candle (not made of soy) that my husband and I lit at our wedding. Even though he and I are 2 different people, listening, empathizing, adapting, and giving thanks help bring us together.
Do you carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) with you?