Couples Cooking and Communication

Couples Cooking and Communication Classes

The challenges faced by couples when one receives a cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming and confusing. Navigating the maze of treatment options, scheduling appointments and having to make decisions quickly may seem like you have landed in a foreign country without a guidebook or dictionary.Couples often report they feel isolated, scared and helpless, which can create a sense of being out of control.

The Couples Cooking and Communication classes at The Gathering Place provide support and offer suggestions to help couples become better communicators. A nurturing and relaxing atmosphere is created as couples cook and eat together while discussing issues they are facing as well as coping strategies. The integration of the emotional support and the hands-on cooking that is done together makes these classes unique and different than community based cooking classes.

Couples who attend these classes are open and willing to share their struggles with the changing roles that have taken place with cancer now being a part of their lives; these include general household responsibilities, financial changes dues to (possible) loss of job and increased expenses for medication. So many losses pile up that can feel insurmountable; loss of intimacy and lack of sexual relations, loss of independence, loss of future plans, loss of openness and loss of time spent together other than going to doctor’s appointments.

One partner may want to know everything about the diagnosis and prognosis and the other may not want any information at all, one may be an avid internet user and the other wants no part of it. Parenting styles, discipline and relationships with children and/or grandchildren sometimes are disregarded and inconsistent due to the focus and attention being directed to the adult receiving treatment.

Throughout the class, couples are given opportunities to work together in a variety of ways: 1-1 conversations, solving puzzles, completing questionnaires, practicing guided imagery and meditation, learning gentle movements and breathing exercises as well as setting goals to improve communication. Cooking together encourages couples to observe their patterns of behavior; who takes the lead, and who follows; who participates and who observes, who decides how spicy or sweet the food will be; who cleans up and who doesn’t! The experiences that take place are a good way to begin to decide if any changes are needed both in the kitchen and/or in everyday life.

Tips on ways to show support and ways to spend time together are offered and include the following:

  • Be encouraging and listen to your partner share feelings, concerns and fears
  • Help with household chores and yard work
  • Take your spouse on outings
  • Give hugs
  • Talk about things other than cancer
  • Practice relaxation and meditation together
  • Bring home flowers
  • Make a scrapbook of things you have done together and enjoyed
  • Watch funny movies
  • Start a gratitude journal
  • Listen to music together
  • Go for short walks
  • Cook together
  • Reassure your partner that you love them
  • Be kind, considerate and thoughtful

We nurture our bodies with healthy foods and we can nurture our souls by treating ourselves with kindness and patience.

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The Gathering Place's funding comes from individuals, families, organizations, foundations and corporations, through our Tribute program, Annual Fund, Special Events and TGP Warehouse sales. We are a qualified 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable organization.
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