(Part two by Adrienne Easton see Part one)
Don’t take it personally—understand they are not well.
Being the spouse of a person going through burnout has its own difficulties.
We may fight with feelings of rejection by the one person we thought would always be present and listening in conversation, buoyant, approachable and engaging. We may think, “Who is this person? This is not the person I married! This one drinks too much, falls asleep in front of the tv then keeps me awake because he tosses and turns and snores, gets defensive when I talk about difficulties, is irritable with me and the kids, easily critical, withdraws to his phone…” Ah, yes, sometimes it feels like we are flying solo and our wingman has dropped off the plane.
In sickness and in health.
All these are symptoms of Don’s burnout that I saw before he actually accepted the fact. So, what actually helped me to still love him through the journey and for our marriage to come out strong? Perhaps the greatest factor is the knowledge that during my own period of depression and burnout, Don believed that I would get better. He did all he could to make space for me to do so and to get the help I needed. He drove me on the long trips to see my counsellor and let me sob all the long drive home. He understood that depression was not something I could recover from in my own strength. He prayed for me continually. So, of course when Don burnt out, I was there for him with the understanding that he would recover and that I would do all I could to assist in that journey. Besides, when we were married in 1979, we vowed to each other to “love and care, in sickness and in health”. And I am a woman of my word.
It’s not me—they are unwell and not themselves
Secondly, knowing that burnout is a sickness helped me cope with the feelings of rejection that initially surfaced through Don’s behaviour. He was not intentionally hurting by disregarding me. He was so depleted that he was incapable of giving out as he had done before.
They will recover—hang on to that.
Also, all the small steps along the way to Don’s recovery were signs that one day he would be his strong vibrant self again. God reminded me of the man with whom I had spent 33 years of marriage—the characteristics I loved about him, how he was committed to our marriage and of the special moments we had shared. That kept me hopeful and resolute. He would be restored. If your spouse or someone close to you is on the recovery journey, I encourage you to ask God for a picture and scripture to cling to as you support, love and do all you can to see them healed.
Who can help you journey through this?
Who is your trusted mentor, helping you journey to health?
Maybe use these two blogs to start a conversation.
Have you journeyed with your partner through burnout? Share your comments below. Your comments will help others.
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- Vital Spirituality
- Well-Being Mentoring