In intimate relationships, MS is like the "unwanted guest" who never leaves and insists on being the focus of your life together. But You CAN support each other and keep your "guest" from taking over house and home.
Here are some common concerns, and ways to keep MS in perspective.
"It's like there are three of us—you, me, and MS."
Shift your focus to other things—an upcoming social activity, visits with friends or family, vacation plans, or children's activities. Remind each other that you have many things to share in your lives.
"When will we get back to normal?"
You may need to redefine what normal is now. It can help you both feel more in control, even if exacerbations or on-going symptoms disrupt your day-to-day routines.
"But how do we make plans for the future?"
Having hopes and dreams is essential for mental health. Discuss your goals and develop alternative plans (Plan A, B, and C). This can help you deal with a future that seems unpredictable.
"Our circle is shrinking!"
Isolation intensifies depression. It's important to help each other make that extra effort to stay social—invite friends over, meet at that favorite restaurant, or get together for a movie.
"I feel guilty if I can't do what we used to do."
In many cases, you can modify an activity you enjoy together. Talk about needed changes and find creative ways that allow both of you to have fun.
"But I thought that you thought that I meant.."
Mind-reading doesn't replace talking. Expressing your thoughts and feelings—without anger or blame—is essential to a healthy relationship. Seek a counselor if communication has fallen into a rut.
"But this wasn't what I had in mind!"
MS calls for flexibility—in thinking, feeling, and expectations from oneself and others. Grieving loss and redefining your relationship may be part of the process towards a new acceptance. Partnerships based on mutual respect and accommodation stay strong, despite what the disease can do.
YOU CAN have a successful, satisfying, and supportive relationship.
Author: Jude Meyer, PhD, Can Do Multiple Sclerosis