For any one-on-one relationship to succeed, it takes dedication, commitment, and understanding. Add the challenges of MS to the mix and these qualities become that much more important. Roles and responsibilities keep shifting. Chores have to be negotiated and re-negotiated.
Hard work? Sure. Worth it? Definitely.
Here are some tips to help your relationship thrive:
Go team, go. Couples do best when they are willing to work as a team. There is a lot to learn and it’s helpful when your loved one can share some of it with you.
Find balance. Think about creating a relationship based on “care partnering,” where you and your partner can rotate which one is receiving the help and which one is doing the supporting. Talk with each other about ways to accomplish this.
Make room for fun. It’s important to carve time for just the two of you, doing things you’ve always loved. If you have to do these activities differently, so be it. Just don’t give up prematurely on doing what you’ve always enjoyed.
Think of conflict as a tool. Sometimes, couples try to protect each other from conflict. They try to avoid hurting their partner or making them angry, thinking their loved one has enough on his or her plate already. Clinical psychologist Dr. Jude Meyer contends that not only is conflict important, it’s essential. According to her, to be able to know how one’s significant other is feeling and resolve those conflicts, rather than bury them, deepens relationships.
Find new ways to be intimate. If there are certain physical things you can no longer do, think about alternative things you can. Learn new ways to be close together and be open to creative solutions. The National MS Society has useful information on this topic. Don’t forget, too, that it’s all about the journey.
It bears repeating: Good relationships are based on good communication. To ask for what you need and to negotiate respectfully with each other goes a long way toward building this. Couples who work toward developing these skills can grow closer, despite any stressors in their lives.