Managing Stress in Your Relationship After Stoma Surgery

Ostomy surgery can have an impact on your closest relationships, adding unwanted stress and anxiety. Take a constructive approach to relationship stress and try a helpful exercise.


Learn how to manage stress in relationships after stoma surgery.

Relationships are complex, even during times of good health. After a major procedure like stoma surgery, relationships can get even more complicated. Even temporary situations, like a loss of income or a partner’s caregiver role during recovery, can result in considerable strain.

Be constructive about stress

Stress, worry, anger, anxiety, and fear are not good for you or your relationship with your partner. It’s important to learn some constructive ways to deal with stress in your relationship after stoma surgery. 

First, try to determine the causes of the stress. Once the causes are understood, you and your partner can work through this together, recognising that neither of you can fix a relationship under strain all by yourself.

A post-surgery relationship exercise

Below is an exercise you can do together after your stoma surgery. It can help you address your relationship issues head-on, which can help you both reduce stress and bring you closer together. Before beginning, remind yourselves that this exercise is not about criticism. Try and stay focused on the main goal: improving your relationship after stoma surgery. 

  1. Talk through all the things that are stressing you both 
  2. Write the issues down, and then go back and put them in order – from biggest to smallest
  3. Start with the most stressful and pressing issue first, but also discuss the minor ones 
  4. Make a plan to tackle one or two of the big issues
  5. Also tackle one or two of the little annoyances right away – quick wins, so you both feel good about your progress! 

This exercise may help you acknowledge the stress that each of you are under, and the effect that it is having on your relationship. Don’t forget to express gratitude for each other’s support too. Once you have a plan, you can work on it together to reduce stress in your relationship and move forward.