10 Tips for Taking Care of Your Sick Spouse

Sniffles. Headaches. Fever. Cough. Tissues… It can all be a little overwhelming when your spouse is sick.

B was sick with the flu alllll last week, and it was so hard to watch. Mostly because financially, we’re tight right now. So I couldn’t risk catching his illness and missing work. Otherwise I’d’ve been able to sit with him, and cuddle with him, and sleep in the same bed as him. And I couldn’t do that, so it made me feel like I wasn’t taking care of him at all. I just had to sit across the room from him and watch him be miserable.

Part of my problem was that on a normal day, B takes care of me just as much, if not more than I take care of myself. He picks up a lot of my slack every single day and never says a word about it. So to have him sick and unable to do that, really highlighted the areas within myself that I need to work on. It also made it super obvious to me how much I need him, and how lost I would be without him.

I spent a lot of time last week thinking about what other type of things I could do to take care of him since I couldn’t be with him every second of the day like I wanted to. I did some digging in my mind on what type of stuff B likes, what type of stuff I like when I’m sick, and then I did some research of what other people do when their spouses are sick to make sure I don’t miss anything. These are 10 of my favorite tips for taking care of your sick spouse.

 

Make sure you have a working thermometer.

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B has only been sick a few times since I’ve met him, but when he gets sick, he is sick. One of the best things I can have on hand is a working and accurate thermometer. Honestly, it’s mostly for my peace of mind because I’m a worry wart. But when he’s in pain, his body temperature sky rockets, and I need to know when it’s time to take him to the doctor. So, have a working thermometer. 

Let them have a few special treats, but don’t let them binge eat.

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When his medicine is working, and he’s starting to feel more alive – all he wants to do is eat. And he’s sick and helpless and I want to let him have whatever his little heart desires, but I have to remind myself, “Don’t do that!” Because whenever he gets better, and he steps on the scale, and his self esteem plummets from the number on the screen – if I didn’t do anything to encourage him not to overindulge, then it’s partly my fault. And that’s shitty to say, but we need to be realistic. It’s horrible when the person you love doesn’t feel good about themselves, and the last thing they need after getting over an illness is to feel bad about how much they weigh.

In addition to that, eating junk food is not going to help your spouse get better faster. It’s going to bog down their system, taking the energy their body should be using to fight off the illness, and use it to digest unnecessary foods – which makes them stay sicker longer. So not only is your spouse miserable longer, but you have also spent more money on junk food, and if you work for wages like us, you’re also losing money the longer he has to stay away from work to recover. (I don’t want to relate health to finances, but again, let’s be realistic.)

Let them sleep where they want to sleep.

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Honestly, why fight the battle? They’re halfway dead. Don’t be that person. If they’d rather sleep on the sofa, let them. If they’d rather sleep in the bed – that’s okay! If you don’t want to get sick – YOU move. They win this battle. Always.

Skip the Meds.

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I’m not a “holistic” person by any means. No matter how much I want to be, I just don’t have the energy or the time to put into learning all about it. I think it’s cool as hell, and I respect the people who know as much as they do about all of it! I’ve always taken medicine for my illnesses, and I’ve always drugged up my husband just as much when he was sick too. But I recently read an article called “Why You (Usually) Shouldn’t Treat a Fever” by Maia James at http://www.bewell.com, about why she doesn’t like to drug her sick kids, and I couldn’t say it better myself…

Medicine masks symptoms. When kids are feverish, they usually lie still, eat very little, and take frequent naps. When we treat a fever, the child feels better and will often run around, play, and eat. While of course it always heartens me to see my sons feeling better, intuition tells me that they should rest more and move about less while fighting a virus. Perhaps our bodies even know that digestion requires lots of energy, and the appetite is suppressed in an effort to conserve resources.  Moreover, if we artificially lower the fever, how can we know when a child can return to school? I recently was at the playground with a mother who said her daughter was “so sick an hour ago, but after Tylenol she wanted to come outside to play!” As this little girl coughed all over my son, I wished this mom had skipped the Tylenol, or at least kept the child inside after the medication took effect.”

Make them some chicken noodle soup.

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Whether you believed it to be an old wives’ tale or not, chicken noodle soup has some legitimate benefits for the sick party.

Have a movie night together.

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Movie nights for sick spouses are the best. They get to spend quality time with you, without feeling pressured to do anything other than lay there all curled up in a blanket and be in your presence. (You don’t even have to sit together!) Expect them to fall asleep though. And maybe skip the popcorn and opt for something a little more soothing like a cozy mug of green tea. Try to avoid dairy though (I’m talking to you guys that instantly went to hot chocolate when I said tea), since the fat content in the milk can make the mucus in the back of the throat thicker and more irritating to the throat.

Give them a massage.

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Okay, for transparency sake, I’m adding this to the list because it would be nice. I would enjoy it, I’m sure, if I was sick and B gave me a massage. However, if you’re trying to avoid catching their bug, it would be best practice to maybe not rub your hands all over their body. But, something I will do, is rub the roller ball Icy Hot on B if he’s sore and the ibuprofen isn’t helping him. This way, he get’s the relief he needs for his soreness, and I don’t have to touch any germs.

 

Make them a care package // survival kit.

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I thought this was a super cute idea when I originally saw it! Imagine coming down with the fricken sniffles and your spouse goes into the bedroom and then whips out this little basket of goodies for you to make it through your ailment! IMAGINE IT! How cute! But then I read on The Spruce this little tidbit and I realized, “Oh my god. I can literally never find anything when I’m not sick, let alone when I am! I bet B would love this.” It’s all about perspectives I guess! Just make sure you’re including things that are actually helpful: tissues, maybe some sleeping medicine, an eye mask would be nice, some cozy socks, their favorite candy… etc.

“If you have to “abandon” him/her, make sure there is plenty of juice easily found in the kitchen, set out some soup (can or package) with the pan, bowl, and spoon sitting close by. Sick spouses can never find anything even if it is where it always is. Be sure a landline or cell telephone is within reach.”

Pamper them with a meal in bed.

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Honestly, forget the food – just get me that duvet cover!

But on a real note, being catered to is always such an incredible feeling. For me it makes me feel loved – but acts of service is one of my love languages.

Get them a cool washcloth.

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When your spouse is burning up and miserable, the least you could do is to put a nice cool washcloth on their forehead. It’s such a simple act that makes a world of difference.

 

 

 

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