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Every partnership has a rhythm of its own. Whether you are spouses/partners, relatives, or close friends, a healthy, balanced relationship relies on a variety of factors:

  • Communication
  • Mutual respect
  • Mutual support
  • Shared expectations, joys, sorrows
  • Shared management of changes and transitions
  • Interdependence and independence

Multiple sclerosis (MS) may challenge this rhythm in a variety of ways. It is an unpredictable illness that can disrupt daily life, alter your roles and responsibilities, and cause changes and losses for each of you.

The key strategies for maintaining rhythm in your partnership include: acknowledging the challenges for each of you and the feelings that go with them; finding comfortable ways to talk about the changes you are facing; letting go of any competition over who has it “worse”; and working together to maintain a balanced give-and-take in your relationship.

Here are some practical tips for each of you:

Tips for Partners Who Have MS

Tips for Partners without MS

Remember:

  • Both of you live with the impact of MS
  • Your partner’s health and wellness need equal time
  • Your partner may need brief “transition” time between work responsibilities and home chores
  • Both of you need to maintain social connections and time for recreation
  • Planning for the unpredictable future helps both of you
  • Your partner can’t read you mind, no matter how much he or she cares about you, give clear messages about what you need and what you don’t need
  • Using a mobility aid helps you and your partner enjoy more shared activities
  • Acknowledge that everything takes longer than before – and plan for it
  • Appreciate your partner’s efforts even if they aren’t perfect.

Remember:

  • Put on your own oxygen mask first: taking care of yourself is self-preserving, not selfish
  • Acknowledge your partner’s current and potential losses as well asyour own
  • Accept that things take longer than they used to, and plan for it
  • It’s OK to ask your partner to use a mobility aid for some things, so that you can share more activities, go at a reasonable pace, and worry less about his or her safety
  • Don’t jump to conclusions about what your partner needs or doesn’t need – ask!
  • Think carefully before giving up all the activities you can no longer share
  • Don’t just worry about the unpredictable future – plan for it
  • You’re at risk for depression too
  • If you’re maxed out, stressed out, acting out, reach out for help

Call 1-800-344-4867 to learn about National MS Society resources

  • Information
  • Referrals
  • Counseling
  • Financial planning
  • Financial assistance
  • Long-term care strategies
  • Insurance questions
  • Social Security questions
  • Equipment loans
  • Scholarships

Click here to get even more great tips on this topic by viewing our archived webinar on Support is a Two Way Street.