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“These chocolates are so good. So good. Here, try one.” Every time I taste something good, whether it is salmon or a chocolate layered cake, I want my husband to try it. I want him to experience the same pleasure that I am. He will frequently say, “No thanks,” and I will say, “Please.” At that point, he usually gives in and tries what I am offering to him.

The scenario I just described is frequent in our house but is only one example of how I try to encourage my husband to experience things that I think he will enjoy. I often feel as if I take up too much space in our home, relationship and lives with my mental illness and my newly diagnosed health problems that require a strict diet.

Those of us who receive a lot of care from another person need to feel as if we can give something back. My husband falls into the category of a giver. Because he is a giver, his needs, wants, and desires are frequently at the back of the line. It gives me great pleasure to see my husband happy and to see him getting the things he wants.

The problem is, my husband will often turn down gifts and gestures of kindness. He will say, “No thank you.” I have told him over the years that if he is going to do so much for so many people he needs to allow others to give back to him. Most of us find a certain joy in giving to others and if my husband always gives but never receives people (me included) can feel left out of that joyous cycle.

I think caregivers in particular need to learn to accept from others, and particularly the people they are caring for. As I wrote earlier, I often feel like the focus or center of our lives revolves around me. Anything I can do to give back to my husband, to make him the focus once in a while pleases me, and it also helps alleviate the guilt of all the things we have to say no to because I am having symptoms.

I feel like there are so many disappointing times when my husband is looking forward to something and because of me, we will have to cancel at the last minute. If I can buy him things that he loves or would enjoy, have him try things, get him to spend time with his best friend, etc. then I feel like the scale is not so lopsided in my direction.

The old saying goes, “It is better to give than receive.” I think there is some truth to that statement, and for those of us who receive much, it is important that we can give and give generously in return.