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Multiple Sclerosis in the Marriage

Multiple Sclerosis in the Marriage

Multiple sclerosis can complicate a marriage, often forcing both individuals to adjust to drastic changes in expectations or marital roles — or it can bring you even closer together. Perhaps it will do both.

Maybe MS was part of the picture prior to the relationship or maybe it was diagnosed later. Either way, it has the potential to dominate every facet of your lives. It’s easy to become a little self-absorbed when living with chronic illness and, for the spouse, it’s normal to resent MS and the impositions it imposes. The trick is not to resent each other.

Whether you are in a traditional marriage or some other long-term committed relationship, it can weather many storms when treated as a true partnership and those storms are faced as a team.

Lack of communication can lead to feelings of isolation. It is truly a blessing when married couples develop a bond and can almost read each other’s thoughts, but when it comes to MS, nothing should be considered obvious.

The MS patient should be up front about symptoms that are interfering with the ability to function. To assume that your partner will instinctively know without being told is a mistake, and so is holding a grudge if they don’t. Even to the well-versed, sometimes the symptoms of MS are hard to detect.

Likewise, the caregiver/spouse must be able to speak freely about the extra responsibilities they face due to MS. Resist the urge to overprotect each other — that can lead to much bigger issues down the road.

Flexibility is a must. You may have the road map all laid out, but there will be detours. If you’ve got relapsing/remitting MS, the road may alternate between smooth pavement and rough terrain, with zero visibility. The willingness to alter plans and work around sudden change will serve you well.

Show your appreciation for the little kindnesses as well as major sacrifices. It’s not difficult to fall into a pattern of dealing with daily living while forgetting the niceties, but everyone appreciates acknowledgment of their efforts. No one likes to be taken for granted.

Nurture the relationship. The patient and caregiver relationship must peacefully co-exist with the husband and wife relationship rather than overpower it.

Romance is good for the soul. Whatever you do, don’t let that slide. It’s not so much the grand gestures, but the simplicity of a whispered, “I love you,” or an unexpected cuddle that will come back to you a thousand times over.

Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a multiple sclerosis patient, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2.com’s Reform Health Policy blog in Causes.

Read more: Conditions, Health, Living with MS, Multiple Sclerosis, , ,

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17 comments

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10:19AM PDT on May 5, 2013

My late husband had MS, but died from cancer. It is a very hard road to travel for all involved.

7:13AM PDT on May 2, 2013

True communication counts

5:13AM PDT on May 2, 2013

thanks

6:43AM PDT on Apr 7, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:25PM PDT on Aug 26, 2010

My best friend's younger brother has MS and I was just diagnosed with systemic lupus last year, which is equally debilitating and painful. My fiance was with me when I was very sick, almost died, and diagnosed. He is now my husband of 3 weeks and he vowed to stay with me no matter what because he loves me, through all the good, bad, and the ugly! He has Factor 9 hemophillia so I take care of him and he takes care of me. This is how marriage should be, taking care of one another and loving each other no matter what. Anyone who would leave their spouse because they get sick is a pretty sad excuse for a human being! Maybe people like that will get sick one day and have nobody to be there for them and they will know how that felt to the person they left!

Wedding Planning Bay Area

11:58PM PDT on Aug 21, 2010

Help! I'm feeling somewhat desperate these days. My husband was diagnosed with MS about two years before he and I were married. I have done a tremendous amount of research and have felt that I was prepared for what was to come. I was wrong. What nobody talks about is the family and that the disease belongs to everyone in the home, not just the person diagnosed. I didn't know he could be so mean. There are days that I feel I can't do anything right for him and would be better off leaving and giving him an opportunity to find someone that can be perfect. I am over-worked, under-appreciated and being beaten over the head with every possible negative thing about me. I'm not stupid. I know I'm not perfect, but this feels awfully cruel sometimes. How does one deal with this without taking it personally?

4:24AM PST on Feb 13, 2010

I feel like my marriage is stronger, but I am also married 27 years & my MS is pretty mild. But I have to say that topic has me a little worried. In my support group, many MSers are divorced. Hope my husband will stick with me for the long haul!

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10:41AM PDT on Aug 10, 2009

All your stories are very moving and l wish you all that good luck follows you on every further step of your lives...l just cannot imagine your situation but admire you all for the courage you hold in your hands...You show to be the real caring people with big hearts,taking care of another soul no matter what condition they might be in...That's impressive...I'm not religious,just looking from the pure humanistic point of view...Let your sun never,never stops shining...Good luck!

8:02AM PDT on Aug 8, 2009

i have had both me wife and 15 year old daughter diagnosed over the last 3 years, these are 2 of the most important people in my life, i have watched both of them suffer to the point where i just want to close my eyes and hope it goes away. the worst part is not knowing the future. My wife is going down hill slowly and has degenerative MS and is in constant pain now. My daughter has relapsing which would come and go every 3 months with many different symptoms blindness, paralisis you name it ive seen it. She is taking rebif now and her symptoms are far worse and i thank god for the drug, she is so young and i worry for her future...its not an easy life but it is ours, it sucks we were healthy people ,ate well no smoking no drinking etc... we have been married for 24 years and should be starting to enjoy life ... instead every day we worry about a fate unknown. D

1:27AM PDT on Aug 6, 2009

I didn't realize that Care2 had a section on MS I just stumbled into it today. My husband was diagnosed with MS over 20 years ago. We've been through a lot together. We've been married 25 years now. At this point he can't do anything for himself and is either is lying down or for short spurts sitting in a wheelchair. It is really really really hard. I would just like to remind everyone that in a family situation it isn't just an individual that has MS... the FAMILY has MS. As the spouse/caregiver I've suffered from it and so have our children.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Something to think about....thanks

thanks for a great story. So glad you were united again. Its great to see how much Steve and Daisy l…

Very kind and thoughtful, thanks for posting.

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