Being a nurse can create unique challenges in our relationships, especially with significant others. We work long hours and give our emotional and mental energy to others, which can leave us feeling like we’re running on empty by the time we come home. Especially if our SO’s aren’t in the medical field, it can feel like they don’t understand where we’re coming from or what experiences we’ve had at work.
If this is you, you are not alone! We know how hard it can be and that’s why we asked our community for their best advice for relationships as a nurse. We thought that February would be the perfect month to share all of the amazing responses we got.
1) Make uninterrupted time for each other. This can feel like the biggest challenge in the world if you work opposite schedules from your SO. Planning this out on the calendar allows you to make sure you both have the quality time you need together to keep your relationship a priority. Even if you have to schedule it weeks in advance, you’ll have something to look forward to together and your commitment won’t be put aside for other things.
2) Make yourself a priority so you can show up as the best partner when you’re with your SO. Creating time alone in your happy place and taking care of yourself at work allows you to fill your cup so you have love and energy left to give to your partner. It’s easy as nurses to feel run down and like we don’t have anything left to give to someone else. This can cause a lot of stress in your relationship. By taking your lunch break, drinking water, asking for help, and getting off the unit even for just a couple of minutes, you will feel less drained at work and therefore have more to give when you get home. Let your partner know that you need time for yourself to recover after a difficult shift or week. Explain that it's not that you don't want to spend time with them but that you need your "me" time to be fully present in the relationship. This way you will fill your own cup before you’re trying to fill up your partner’s.
3) It’s hard to communicate when you’re not speaking the same “language.” Instead of describing all of the wounds / assessments / IV drips, etc, describe how you were feeling. “I felt overwhelmed because my patients were super sick. I feel frustrated that I’m not able to spend as much time with my patients as I would like.” Put it in vocabulary that your partner can understand.
4) Counseling is extremely helpful to keep a good relationship good! It takes work!
5) Date someone who understands your schedule and values and appreciates the work that you do!
6) Don’t dump too much work stuff on your partner. Try to focus on the positive parts and share that with your partner in addition to the negative.
7) Individual therapy is amazing because you can shoulder the emotional load with someone who is not your partner. This prevents your partner from feeling like they are the only one there to support you.
We hope that you can implement something from this resource to help your relationship continue to grow and thrive!
Keep your heart open, you won’t regret it.
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