If you have a partner or spouse who is displaying signs and symptoms of eating disorders, there are some things you can do to help. Eating disorders are mental health conditions that affect the way a person sees themselves, their behaviors, and their relationships. So, it can be difficult to speak to a loved one who may be dealing with an eating disorder about getting help. Learning how to identify the symptoms of eating disorders and understanding how you can help is a great place to start if you want the best for your loved one’s mental wellbeing.
Some things a spouse can do to support their partner struggling with the signs and symptoms of eating disorders can include:
Learn About Eating Disorders Yourself
The best way you’re going to provide the support your spouse needs is to learn about eating disorders yourself. This is going to help you establish the ground of support your spouse needs from you. Understanding the symptoms of eating disorders, why they may develop, and what to do to support a loved one struggling with these mental health issues allows you to also understand how it impacts your life and relationship. This way, you can understand that some of the behaviors, thoughts, or feelings your spouse has are directly related to an eating disorder. And, that you’re not at fault and rather incredibly needed as a supportive outlet during the hardest times. Furthermore, educating yourself on eating disorders can help you understand how the treatment process can be successful. And, what to expect during the eating disorder treatment process in order to be a crucial supportive role. Finally, education about eating disorders can help you to better identify the signs and symptoms of eating disorders in a spouse’s life. This can help you both to understand whether or not professional help may be necessary.
Work on Flexibility and Expect the Need to be Flexible
Along with educating yourself about how to be the best support partner for your spouse who’s struggling with eating disorders, you also need to work on being flexible. During eating disorder treatment, many things will change for your spouse. These changes can include moods, behaviors, lifestyle changes, and relationships. If you’re more open and willing to accept change, this flexibility can help you steer clear of resentment and better prepare you to be the best recovery partner you can be.
Be Willing to Communicate
Communication is the key to providing optimal support for a spouse who’s struggling with an eating disorder. Going through both the symptoms of eating disorders and treatment for eating disorders can be challenging. Providing a safe and supportive place for your spouse to communicate with you will give them further support. And, make them feel less judged and more accepted. During treatment, your spouse will have to learn to accept and speak about difficult aspects of living with an eating disorder and why this issue may have developed. So, at home with you, it may be best to just provide a listening ear. And, keep conversations lighthearted and less challenging. Also, if you find that your spouse may not want to communicate with you about her time in treatment, this is okay. Remind yourself that you can only provide so much and that a listening ear and nonjudgemental space may be enough.
Invest in Therapy For Yourself Too
While it’s important that your spouse who’s struggling with disordered eating behaviors get help, it’s also important that you get help as well. Eating disorders don’t just affect the person who’s diagnosed, they affect their loved ones as well. Reaching out for support in the community by going to group meetings or finding a licensed therapist can help you work through your own feelings, learn to utilize coping skills, and improve personal relationships.
Getting Your Spouse Help Through Eating Disorder Treatment
Willow Place for Women understands the impact that eating disorders have on relationships. If you find that your spouse or partner needs help with an eating disorder, we’re here to help. We provide outpatient treatment and therapy for women who are struggling with signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Find out more about our programs on our website.