There's nothing quite so satisfying as a happy marriage, but MS and marriage can be a volatile combination. MS is, by nature, extremely unpredictable, not only when looking toward the future, but on a day-to-day basis. It places enormous strains on family life and completely obliterates any sense of normalcy.
Both the patient/spouse and the caregiver/spouse undergo major role changes, and each must cope with the new order of things. It's important to remember that you are, first and foremost, a husband and wife. Here are five simple ways to help you put your marriage before MS and keep it there.
Your spouse may not fully understand what is like to have multiple sclerosis, but the major life changes involved affect you both. While you bear the physical brunt of MS, you both have to deal with the emotional toll, the financial impact, and role changes. My own life changed with such great speed that my head is still spinning five years later. I try to never lose sight of the fact that Jake was every bit as blindsided as I was.
Unless he is so fortunate as to possess telepathic abilities, he is not a mind reader. Make the effort to share your deepest thoughts and feelings with him. If you are experiencing depression or fatigue, and you don't tell him, he just may miss the signs. If you need extra assistance... ask. We can't expect our loved ones to get inside our heads and accommodate for our needs on their own. We've got to communicate with them.
MS is a huge issue in both your lives, but it is not the only issue. Don't forget to ask him how his day is going and how he's feeling. Take the time to find out what's on his mind today... besides MS. Show that you care about his hope and fears. Don't assume he knows.
Don't fall into the trap of taking him for granted. Just because he always does the grocery shopping, doesn't mean that you shouldn't tell him how much you appreciate it once in awhile. We tend to dispense with the niceties with the people we love the most. That's a mistake.
Romance is good for the soul. Without it, you might as well just be roomates. Under no circumstances should you let romance slide. MS can make things more difficult, but there's no reason to let it take the romance, too. Cuddle up on the sofa together... light some candles... play soft music... you know where to go from there.
Next up: MS and Marriage: For the Caregiver/Spouse: 5 Ways to Show You Care