(friends; social support; communications)
Maintaining healthy, happy relationships is hard work, even in the best of times. Living with MS can make it even harder, as it affects everyone in your circle – your family, your friends and more. Finding comfortable ways to talk about the disease and its impact can be very difficult, and learning how to share feelings and concerns is essential to maintaining strong, two-way relationships. Countless studies have found that social relationships are the best guarantee of heightened well-being and lowered stress – according to The Happiness Advantage – and a social support system is the greatest predictor of happiness and success.
The following resources may help you better communicate and navigate your important relationships through the day-to-day challenges of life affected by MS. Start with a personal call-to-action checklist.
- Connect with others with similar interests and experiences through the Society’s private community at MSconnection.org, as well as “Ask an MS Navigator” your questions within the community, or
- With the National MS Society Living with MS and online courses and Intimacy, or
- Make the most of internet search with keywords like “how to improve relationships”
- Through the Society’s 50-state network of chapters. Counseling, Support Groups (traditional and non-traditional like supper clubs and hiking) and other resources can be found by calling the Society at 800-344-4867 or by searching your local chapter website, or
- Look for local resources like community resource or recreation centers, churches, synagogues or other faith-based organizations, child/maternal resource centers, mental and public health centers
Relationship Matters, a program for couples, can help you make your relationship a priority – to communicate better, solve problems, resolve conflicts and stay connected – as your face life with MS together. Please note: while the Relationship Matters program was created for couples living with MS, the general principles of communication discussed are applicable for relationship management in general. Download handbook
Shared interests and activities are important in a close relationship, but recreation may shift with the changes that MS can bring. One way to ensure that you have shared interests is to create them yourself – discover something new! Some form of recreation slightly outside both of your comfort zones will mean that you support and encourage each other. Join a National MS Society event together, visit Can Do MS for additional resources, or find another sport you love.