We are exploring RA’s effect on our friends and family this month. We all know how RA has changed our lives, but how has it affected the ones we love? I asked my husband if he would be willing to honestly answer some questions about how RA has affected him and our relationship. He consented. Below are the questions I asked, and the answers he provided. Lloyd is a man of few words, but the truth rings through in his responses.
How has your spouse being Diagnosed with RA affected your relationship?
Really it is stronger , I think. I’m more attentive to her needs and how she is feeling on any given day. Sure, there are some things we can’t do together any longer, but we find other ways to share experiences.
What is the most difficult thing you have had to accept, or adjust to, since your wife’s diagnosis?
Seeing her unable to do some of the things she used to enjoy. An example is that she can’t play guitar, at least for now.
What is the best thing that has happened to you and/or your relationship after your wife’s RA diagnosis?
As in answer one. It is nice having her home and not under work stress since she quit working because of RA.
How has your wife’s illness affected you personally?
I had to arrange my schedule more in line with making sure she has me around when needed, such as for doctor visits.
What is your biggest concern for the future?
That the drugs will become ineffective and she will be in pain all the time and, because of that, will get disheartened.
What is your biggest hope for the future?
That treatments will continue to improve and she can enjoy life without pain, at least the majority of the time.
What advice do you have for couples who are living together with a chronic illness?
Remember what you promised when you were married-- to be there for your spouse no matter what. Yes, RA and other chronic diseases deal a couple a bad hand, but you can grow closer if you concentrate on caring for each other and never get bitter over things not being the way they were before your spouse got sick. There are a couple of things to keep in mind that help. One is that God never gives us more than we can handle, and the other is that in every bad situation, there is some blessing that can be found. That second one is very hard to see usually, but if we let go of all of our preconceived notions and plans, and let God show us His love and care, the "silver lining" is there and you will get through even the darkest times.
I was almost afraid to read my husband’s answers to my own questions, but I discovered I was pleased with what he wrote. Lloyd and I share everything, even my RA. We try very hard not to take each other for granted, and we each are concerned with the well-being of the other.
If we remember that our RA affects everyone we love, and try to understand their hopes and fears, we have made a giant step in the right direction. After all, it isn’t just about us, it is about us and the ones we love.