How cancer affects your relationship with your partner may depend on:
- how long you have been together
- how long you have had cancer
- how cancer affects your day-to-day life
- how well you and your partner understand the changes you are going through
- whether you live with your partner.
For any couple, talking is important to work through issues such as money, work and, if you have children together, childcare. This is even more important after a cancer diagnosis.
We have information to help you with any issues you and your partner may face.
Practical tips for talking to your partner
Let your partner know how they can support you
We have tips on asking for support.
Ask your partner to come to hospital appointments
You will feel supported and your partner will feel valued, as they can ask questions too. This can make later conversations easier.
Remember your partner will be affected too
A cancer diagnosis affects both partners, so let them talk to you about how they feel as well. If your relationship is strong, it can be a great source of strength for both of you.
Talk together as a team
Trying to protect each other from bad news or difficult feelings will create distance in the relationship. If one partner feels they always have to be strong for the other one, they may begin to feel angry and resentful.
Deal with strong emotions
Strong emotions can often make talking difficult. We have tips on dealing with disagreements and resolving conflict in your relationship.
Talking is only one way to communicate
Facial expressions, body language, gestures and tone all contribute to how we express our thoughts, feelings and ideas.
Write down your feelings
Share these with your partner. We have a tool that may help with this. You can download a PDF of the tool.
Nurture your relationship
Spend time together and plan fun activities. It is important to maintain a normal routine for your relationship.
Talk about whether cancer is affecting your sex life
Cancer and its treatments can affect your sexuality, sex life and relationships. We have information about the effects on your sex life and how to manage them.
Find support outside of the relationship
It may also be helpful for you or your partner to talk to others in a similar situation. You can do this on our Online Community. You may also want to speak to a counsellor or go to a support group, either on your own or with your partner.
If your partner is your carer
Your partner may also be your carer. A carer is anyone who provides unpaid support to a family member or friend who could not manage without this help. If your partner is your carer, this can also have a big impact on your relationship.
Your partner may find it helpful to read our information about looking after someone with cancer. It has practical tips for carers.