Emotional Health · Family & Friends

The Wednesday Five

Fighting Loneliness When Dementia Steals a Spouse

Then I got to the part that asked me to check the box for divorced, widowed, separated or never married. But there was no place to indicate that I am married but my husband is dying. What do I do? Lie about my status? The site would not let me continue until I picked one of the choices. I picked widowed and felt pretty bad about that. I felt disloyal to my husband and I didn’t wanted to admit that I want him dead. But I do want him to die so he can stop suffering. This is all so confusing. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. But I filled out the rest of the questionnaire anyway. I was tired when I finished so I clicked send and went to bed.

During our morning walk, I innocently told my friend about signing up for a dating service. She stopped walking and said, “You can’t sign up for a dating service, you’re married.” I was very surprised at her response. I immediately felt embarrassed and really guilty. Was I out of line doing this? Is signing up on a dating site the same as having an affair even if your husband has been sick for eight years? I didn’t check the box that I was looking for marriage. I checked “looking for friendship.” I tried to explain to my friend why I looked into dating sites but everything I said sounded selfish. I feel horrible that my husband lies in a nursing home slowly dying. But each visit gets more and more depressing. He can’t ask me about my day. He can’t say that I look nice in an outfit and, the most painful of all, is that he can’t say, “I love you, Nancy.”

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The 4 Pillars of Emotional Intelligence and Why They Matter

Emotional intelligence is a new and somewhat slippery concept. It helps to break it down into four main categories when trying to understand it. The four main sets of skills are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Those that are born extroverts, with innate warmth, a good sense of humor, and a tendency toward optimism are obviously at an advantage. But several of the most important skills are ones that you can practice and improve on regardless of your “native” degree of emotional intelligence. Listening, for example, is something that anyone can work on improving, as is the paramount skill of conscientiousness. The latter, which relates to traits like trustworthiness, reliability, and the persistence, may be the most important thing we teach our children, according to Duckworth. Schools and businesses alike need to keep this in mind when deciding how to teach students and train employees. It turns out that who you are as a person, rather than what you know, is what matters most in the end.

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Siblings: Life’s Longest Relationship

Is sibling rivalry innate? In the animal kingdom the more limited resources are, the more likely that will be true. In her book Cain’s Legacy, Jeanne Safer enumerates several species in which “siblicide”—the murder of a sibling by another—is routine. In humans, however, it is less clear. If love and resources are limited or unfairly distributed, the flames of rivalry are easily ignited. To the extent that parents are aware of the issue and try to control for it, animosity can be tempered, but as Safer points out, “paradoxically, it is often parents’ good intention to treat their children equally that paves the way to sibling hell. Equal distribution of love, always a myth, is a false leveler that cheats all recipients out of being appreciated for their unique qualities.”

The bond between brothers and sisters offers the joy of shared history, understanding, and support that can be a great pleasure and asset if treated with respect and care. If you are lucky enough to have a sibling you can be close to, the feeling of knowing there is someone who will never give up on you can be glorious. If not, Safer says, it may be worth your while to work through your problem so that you can either be closer, or forgive yourself and move on.

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