Marriage, Relationships & MS

Marriage, Relationships & MS

Marriage and/or relationships while living with MS is something I hear about often, so I wanted to touch base on it a bit. Even though I’m in my late 20’s, I have been married since I was 18. I also have friends that have MS that are in the ‘dating scene’ as well, so I’m going to share as much as I possibly can with everyone.

I think the first and most obvious thing to say is, that MS and marriage/relationships is not easy. I’m not saying that they’re easy in the first place, but if you throw a chronic illness, like MS, into the mix, it can cause complications and be very hard to deal with.

Like every relationship, there needs to be of course love, support, respect and trust, among many other things as well. I’ve had people come to me for support when their relationship ends due to MS specifically. Which, in my opinion, is just wrong. It really brings out your significant others true colors. If someone decides not to be with you because of MS and it’s complications, then it shows how weak they are and you are better off. However, that’s easier to say it than it is actually dealing with it.

I’ve had many people/friends comment about my marriage to my husband, saying how we’re so strong and committed and they want a relationship like us. I do appreciate the compliments, but let me just say that it is in NO WAY easy, whatsoever.

Just because people see us as this strong, loving couple… that doesn’t mean that we don’t deal with our own issues. We have overcome them, yes, but you both have to have the WANT to make it work.

My husband literally just asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was writing an article about marriage and MS, and how some people’s significant others leave them because of it. His response (edited for language), “If I can get married when I’m 20, and I’m now 31 and can make it work through everything we’ve been through, then they are just sissies.” Now, he didn’t use the word sissies, but you get the idea.

This also seems to be a very big topic at the moment, from a viral video that went out of a surprise anniversary present from husband to wife, and the wife has MS. (Watch it here & have the tissues ready.)

Okay, so back to the subject at hand… coming from someone who got married young, had kids young, a lot of people are surprised that my husband and I will be celebrating 11 years of marriage this December… but why is that so shocking? You have to both want to make it work. I’m not saying it’s all sunshine and roses having MS and dealing with that as a couple, but you have to work through the bad.

The person in the relationship living with MS, didn’t ask for that. They didn’t plan on that to happen… we are already punished enough by our own bodies from the disease; we don’t need and really at times can’t handle the disease causing the end of a relationship.

So if you’re reading this, and you are in a relationship with someone that has MS, please be patient, especially if they are newly diagnosed. Because when I was first diagnosed, I ended up pushing my husband away because I didn’t want him to have to deal with my MS too. We’re not trying to be mean, or hurtful, but for me, I was trying to give him the opportunity to not have to deal with my diagnosis. He didn’t know why I was pushing him away at first, but he finally confronted me about it, and we had a talk about it. I also spoke to others living with MS about it as well.

The bottom line is, if you’re going to be in a relationship with someone with MS, you have to realize what you’re getting into and what all it means. So, if you’re just starting to date someone, when is the right time to tell him or her you have MS? That’s a hard one, and I think it varies from person to person and situation to situation.

If I was in the ‘dating scene’, I don’t think it would be something that I would come out and say right off the bat. That’s not because I’m embarrassed about my disease, or that I’m trying to lie about it. I just think that I would wait past the 1st date for one. I mean, the date could be horrible and you could just not be compatible, so why even bring up the topic and try and explain it in the first place?

I don’t think that there is a ‘timeline’ in which you should have to tell someone you’re dating that you have MS… I think it should be brought up when the time calls for it, or you feel that it’s the right time to mention in. Don’t let your MS define you as a person completely… you are still YOU, you’re just Mighty Strong as well.

Now, to touch base on intimacy and MS… I will also admit that this has caused issues in my marriage. Now, I’m not trying to cast a bad light on my husband, or our marriage, I’m just telling you the flat out truth. I’m not saying it caused a HUGE argument, but after my diagnosis and certain symptoms I deal with, it did cause issues. I tried to brush it off, and just try and work through it, but then I realized that sexual dysfunction is an actual symptom of MS. However, that wasn’t the issue… (TMI sorry.)

The issue was mainly my fatigue. That sounds so cliché, but it seemed that every time I lay in bed, once my head hit the pillow, I was out for the count, snoring and all. There was also the issue of pain/numbness/spasms, which caused issues as well. At first, I was embarrassed and didn’t know how to really talk to my husband about it, but eventually we had a sit down chat about it, so that he could really understand where I was coming from, and that it wasn’t me trying to be distant on purpose.

I think when it comes to marriage/relationships and MS it all varies between relationships. What I’ve been through, and how we’ve overcome it, doesn’t necessarily mean that it would work for others. I guess my best advice would be to communicate. Maybe even write it down, so that you don’t forget what you wanted to say, or anything like that.

Just know that you aren’t alone in any of your struggles, especially in regards to marriage/relationships and MS.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (15)
  • cataldo1982
    4 months ago

    I want to say thank you for this story. I was feeling totally off guard and not sure what to do. This gave me some hope.
    My wife was diagnosed with MS in 2015 and we had been doing fine. As of late, I have been getting pushed away more and more. I have repeatedly told her I am here for the long haul and I believe in our commitment from 18 years ago.
    The road is getting rocky to a point we are soon to get some marriage counseling due to my wife saying she feels like a burden on me and her feelings have changed. No matter how much I say I love you and you are not a burden.
    Wish us luck because I am going to do all I can to be there for my life partner.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 months ago

    I’m glad you enjoyed my article. And I want to thank YOU for being such a supportive partner. It seems that those of us diagnosed with MS are a bit strong headed and feel like we know best ALL the time, but we just don’t want our loved ones to suffer along with us.

    When a spouse is diagnosed with MS, they aren’t the ONLY ones living with the disease from that moment on. It’s a hard pill to swallow that we aren’t ‘normal’.

    Wishing you all the best.
    Ashley Ringstaff

  • WalterTHIII
    1 year ago

    I married in ’98, was DX’d in ’00. Not knowing what MS was, but it HAD to be a horrible disease The FIRST thing I did, in the doctors office, was look at my bride and tell her, ‘I didn’t mean for you to marry a sick man so IF you want to leave me, I will never blame you or spit on your shadow.’
    She looked me in the eye and said, ‘You ain’t getting rid of me THAT easy, through sickness or health’!”
    I so LOVE that woman of mine!
    BTW, I’ve had a heart attack, angina, DVT’s and am now wheelchair bound and she is still MY best friend and greatest ally!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    1 year ago

    You are truly very lucky to have a strong spouse. I too gave my husband that option, but he has stuck by me non-stop.

  • Nancy W
    2 years ago

    I have been married for 42 years. MS is not the only illness in our household. My husband has diabetes. I think any long-term marriage will have to deal with the health of one or the other of you eventually.

    I have friends who are widows. At the end of their husbands lives, they had to deal with it. When I hear someone left because their spouse had MS, I think that same person would leave any time the going got rough, which, is part of the natural life process.

  • Julie
    2 years ago

    I was married when I was just 17. The fact that we made it work for 30 years just amazed everyone, including us sometimes. I thought nothing could separate us. That was before MS. Then he decided he “couldn’t deal with the MS” and left.

    I think it has affected the way I look at marriage and MS. I know not all partners leave, but mine did. I got to learn about MS and divorce all at the same time. It’s been 10 years now and I’m still in one piece body and mind.

    Some things make you stronger. You figure out for yourself who is and who isn’t your friend. Hold the friends close. They will help you thru the really bad times. Having MS isn’t easy. You have to be in charge of your health and try to not let it invade your personal life. And for the partners of the MS’ers, you are gold. Hanging in there isn’t always easy but it will always be worth it.

  • Rachel
    2 years ago

    Thankyou everyone for your comments! They let me spread out abit-yes,M.S. is not the only thing in life-but that has to come from someone with M.S. Right?

  • azcharli3161
    2 years ago

    I have been married to my wonderful, helpful husband for 13 years now and we dated for 1 and a half years.
    Before he wanted to marry me I made him read up on every MS article I could get my hands on.. I was diagnosed in 1994.
    He told me every day that he didn’t care what I had that he would never leave me and he would always stand by my side.
    The poor guy, I swear I bugged him every single day about how hard it is going to be and that it might get a lot worse.
    He didn’t care and 13 years later he still doesn’t
    My advice… If they really love and care about you then nothing else should matter.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi azcharli3161, awww, thanks for sharing your very sweet story, and very sage advice. Sending best wishes to you and your Prince Charming! -All Best, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net)

  • marie
    2 years ago

    I’ve been married since I was 19 for over 23 yrs. When I was 1st diagnosed we had lots of intimacy issues. It’s hard to go from 35 and healthy and then questioning your life. Between, depression and fatigue I had no interest & he didn’t understand. For a while I thought he’d leave, but then I found websites and articles like these & he got it. Education is the key to everything in life I believe. Good luck and good health to all.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi, Marie! We’re glad that you’re here. Thanks for your very kind words and we’re glad that we were able to help.

    We’re always here to share information and support. Thanks for being part of the community and sharing a bit of your story! -AllBest, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • bootydew
    2 years ago

    I am truly BLESSED! I’ve been married for 22 yrs. My husband never faltered. When I got dx in ’02, I thought he was gonna leave. He told me later that leaving wasn’t an option & he meant in SICKNESS andx in HEALTH in our vows. It could be he’s 16 yrs older than me. He does EVERYTHING & NEVER complains! Again…I’m BLESSED!

  • PattiandBob
    2 years ago

    We have been married for 42 1/2 years. My husband was diagnosed with MS when he was in his 30’s (he is 71 now). At first it was no big deal, you simply deal with it as it comes. Then years down the road it became a bigger deal for he no longer had “youth” on his side to help with the fatigue. Then his body began to totally betray him and we survived that too. However it has NOT been an easy road. We are fortunate that we like and love each other as I now have to dress and undress him, put him in and out of bed, help with toileting, bed baths mostly, caths and on and on. It is HARD as I am getting older too, 69 and counting. MS has wiped out our savings and retirement so we go day to day trusting God. Intimacy for us is holding hands and some kisses as he cannot even roll over alone. Prepare yourselves for the “long haul” by making sure you not only “love” each other, but LIKE each other too. Also, FORGIVE yourself when you become irritable and always apologize .. always ! Don’t count on others to ease the way, as they mean well when they say “anything I can do I will”, but when it comes down to it, it is just the two of you (unless you are fortunate enough to be able to afford help). I know I sound whiney .. and perhaps I am a bit .. but make no mistake. I would do it all over again. I adore my husband and I will be here for him as long as the good Lord allows it.

  • Barberintex@me.com
    2 years ago

    It took months of marriage counseling to convince my husband I wasn’t going to leave him because he had gotten so much worse. This was years after diagnosis.

  • potter
    2 years ago

    I have been married to my husband for 43 years and we dated for 3 years before we married. People also comment on our strong marriage, I tell them we think of it as a partnership. We committed ourselves to make it work no matter how rough it got. I think my diagnoses was easier for my husband to accept because I was 55 and we knew other couples already dealing with illness. We are still crazy about each other but also can get on the others nerves. The rough spots we toss out and the romantic moments we cherish. Potter

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