5 tips for a strong relationship after a heart diagnosis

Health problems can challenge your romantic relationships. An expert and a couple who have been through health problems share their tips for keeping your relationship strong after a diagnosis.

Gary and Sarah Orchard

Denise Knowles is a relationship and psychosexual therapist and spokesperson for Relate. Sarah and Gary Orchard have faced heart problems and cancer, and have come through them by tackling the challenges together.

1. Give each other time

Denise says: “Once a day put 10 minutes aside to check in with each other. Don’t look at your phone or TV, and recognise that the relationship is important enough to have that time.”

2. Understand what’s happening

Gary says: “If you are a carer, read up and try to understand what that person’s going through. The more you can understand, the less of a shock it’s going to be.”

There will always be something to be grateful for

Denise Knowles

3. Be honest

Sarah says: “I’d say ‘I’m feeling like this’ even if I thought it could upset my husband.”

4. Stay physically connected

Denise says: “Just holding hands or giving each other a kiss will help keep a couple connected, particularly if sexual activity has taken a downturn.”

5. Notice the good things

Denise says: “Remember to praise yourself and each other, and remember what is good about your relationship. There will always be something to be grateful for.  It goes a long way if you can notice things and say: ‘It’s great that you can support me like this’.”

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