By Fritz Rudy
One of the biggest complications of amputation that you don’t hear about is how it affects a marriage or long-term relationship. I will say this: It isn’t easy.
Allow me to give a little insight into navigating some possible relationship issues that can arise following an amputation via my own experience.
The Emotional Effects of Amputation on a Relationship
Any traumatic experience in our lives can lay to bare all the darkest parts of any relationship.
Under the smiles, there may have been underlying resentment, insecurities, pain, or fear that suddenly come to the surface. There may be old baggage that is dredged to light because of the raw emotions surrounding the event.
There will also be new emotions that have arisen from the event itself. Frustration and depression after amputation are all too common.
These feelings can be coming from one or both of the people in the relationship. The impact of a traumatic experience does not fall solely upon one party or the other, it will affect each individual in a different way.
That is why communication is paramount!
Face The Trauma of Limb Loss Head On
Regardless of whether you feel like talking or not, the feelings surrounding limb loss need to be talked about.
The hard truth is that no amount of hiding will make things better. Whether it was a split second traumatic amputation or something you knew was coming, it happened.
Facing it alone is hard.
Facing it as a couple is easier.
You both will have a long road to fully accepting the change in your lives. You both will have a mourning period, and both will be entering a time of great change. You need to lean on each other as much as you can, and if needed, seek outside help if you feel you may buckle.
There are many tools that a good therapist can offer to aid you in your battle, should you need it. Reaching out for help isn’t weakness. It is fortifying your position to weather the admittedly extremely hard times.
This Too Shall Pass
I used the terms ‘battle’ and ‘fortifying’ intentionally. Any committed relationship can feel like a war at times, even without the additional stresses of a traumatic experience like an amputation.
You chose your partner based on your love for that person and the strengths you see in them. I assume that if you’re married you made an oath to stand by each other, in sickness and in health, good times and bad. If you’re in a long-term relationship, you may not have spoken oaths, but I would venture to guess that there is similar sentiment, even if left unspoken.
This is exactly what those oaths were pertaining to! This is the test.
There will be tears.
There will be yelling.
There will be pain.
This too shall pass.
I’m not a therapist, nor am I clergy. I will not even begin to claim that I have all the answers or attempt to compare my journey to anyone else’s. I will say that I have gone through all of this.
We had to dig our heels in, hard, and fight even harder. We leaned on each other sometimes and were at each other’s throats at other times. This is a fact. We both know it, we both acknowledge it, and we both own it.
In the end, owning it is what truly kept us together. We own the good and the bad. By doing this, we have weathered the storm, and have come out stronger on the other side.
This experience has led us to a much deeper understanding of the needs of the other and has created a cohesive team, that approaches our problems head-on.
The Amputee’s Toolkit: Patience and Understanding
One thing that I can say for a certainty is that we as humans truly find out who we are when we are pushed to the edge and beyond! A crisis may be sudden or may build over time, but they do happen.
If you are with someone and one of you experiences limb loss, make sure to learn patience. In my opinion, patience and understanding are the two most important tools in an amputee’s tool kit. With patience and understanding, we learn to be more honest with ourselves and with others. This will lead to a much stronger bond with your partner.
It is only when we are broken to the foundation that we can rebuild stronger than before.
I truly hope that some of this insight can help endure the storm of your life, should it arise. I believe this approach may help forge a stronger relationship!
If you haven’t already noticed, I deal in hard truths. I don’t sugar coat anything. On that note I want to specifically say that this approach may not be for everyone, nor will it work for everyone. Regardless of whether or not these work for your relationship, I believe that some lessons may be gleaned from this that will help, especially patience and understanding.
Our path is a difficult one, but with the proper tools, it can be a very rewarding path.