Wedding Woes

I think you're doing the thing and just need to see where it goes.

Dear Prudence,

I started dating someone five months ago, and we’re very much in love. We’re so thrilled to have found each other, and I’m often struck by how lucky I feel to be with someone so communicative, fun, and kind. They are a light in my life, and I know they feel the same for me. I thought that we’d shift out of the honeymoon phase with a productive fight at some point, instead it happened with a more serious matter. Days after we said “I love you” and agreed that we want to be partners, their sibling was hit with a life-threatening medical emergency requiring immediate and attentive care. My partner is their sibling’s primary caretaker (parents are not in the picture, we’re all in our late 20s), and has been taking their sibling to appointments and talking to doctors for a few weeks now. There is so much unknown about their sibling’s prognosis and best treatment plan, and it’s been so hard for them dealing with the weight of it all on top of grad school and work. I want to be here for my partner in all of this, and have been however I can. They tell me our walks, talks, movie nights, and outings help things feel briefly normal, and that they’re very grateful for my emotional support. They check in with me frequently, and still find the wherewithal to take vested interest in my life and activities.

My question is this: how do I show up for them while also showing up for myself? And how can I check in with myself and them about our still-new relationship? I know I have a habit of brushing my own needs aside, or pretending I don’t have any to begin with. And at the same time, they absolutely must make their sibling a priority right now. I understand that and am more than happy to rely on friends for emotional support when my partner is at their capacity. At the moment I don’t feel overly burdened, I just take extra time for myself to decompress and recalibrate after particularly heavy emotional conversations/days. I’m trying not to let the anxiety and fear of their sibling’s potential death get to me, as I feel it’s important to be a steady source of comfort and encouragement right now. But I can’t help but worry about how our relationship will be affected, how my emotional capacity for people other than my partner may be affected, how my own self-care may slip.

—New Love, New Fear

Re: I think you're doing the thing and just need to see where it goes.

  • There's no checklist of "to-do" beyond what you're already doing.  Try to tamper down the apprehension.
  • It sounds like both of these people are handling the situation like champs.  It's a good idea for the LW to keep an eye on their own self-care since they know this is has been a problem for them in the past.  But at least at the moment, they have a good handle on it.

    However, they seem to be "borrowing trouble".  It's natural to think about how things might play out in the future, but they can't become obsessed with that.  Right now, there are no problems in the relationship.  If a problem comes up later, then it can be addressed at that time.  But there isn't much use in worrying too much about problems that might happen in the future.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • You’re doing all the things to make a terrible situation less terrible, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. We don’t do self-care to change the hard situation we do it so we’re better able to navigate the hard situation. And that’s what you have to keep doing. It’s still hard, you just (theoretically) have better tools and capacity to manage the hard. 
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