“They’re uncomfortable.” When her son came upon her losing her temper and screaming at the dog, she knew she needed to step back and find some help.
At her daughter’s suggestion, she looked into a support organization called the Well Spouse Assocation. Made up of wives, husbands and partners caring for their chronically ill or disabled spouses or partners, finding the Association was a godsend for Alloway. In some ways, it saved her life.
“Oh my gosh, there’s just nothing like it,” she said. “To meet someone who knows what you’re doing and what you’re going through, and it’s not fun.” The needs and relationship strains of spouses are unique and unlike the strains of other relationships, such as parents and children, or siblings.
Society often ignores the needs of the helping spouse, she pointed out. “We are just now coming into where we should be in recognizing this group of people,” she said.
The Well Spouse Association is not wide-spread in the South, said Alloway. Currently, there are two groups in Georgia – in Atlanta and Athens – and Alloway is beginning her own group this coming January. Alloway’s aim is to provide the kind of safe space to discuss anything – such as the intimate challenges between a husband and wife where one spouse is disabled or ill – that she found with the Association.
“There’s no judgment,” she said. “You are your own conscience. Until you’ve been in their shoes, you cannot judge them.”
Alloway’s group meets first and third Wednesday at the Covington First United Methodist Church from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The group is open to spouses only. For information about the group, call (678) 296-3392.
To contact the Well Spouse Assocation, go to www.wellspouse.org or call 1-800-8380879.