This is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week is March 2-8. For many years MS was thought to be a disease usually seen in white women. The researchers have found that over an average year, 10 out of every 100,000 blacks developed the disease, compared to 7 white patients, 3 Hispanics and just over 1 Asian per 100,000. In the traditional marriage vows you recite in sickness and in health. MS will test that very vow till death do us part. If your life partner is diagnoses with MS, there are some things you should keep in mind to help you to keep your vows.
First, you should recognize that MS symptoms do not define the individual, remember that they have no control over what is happening to their body. It’s really important to talk about specific symptoms and not about the person. Use I statements, such as, “I can see that when you’re forgetful, you’re embarrassed. I know that it’s just a symptom.” I-statements can cool both of you down and are a way to clear communication.
When a spouse is no longer able to contribute to the household in the same way, as homemaker or financial provider, it’s important to shift the roles in the household. This is a conversation that should be discussed early on so that feelings are not hurt. Many times a husband is able to start cooking to express himself, and to connect with the kids in a way he hasn’t before. Homemakers can teach family members how to take care of household chores in a way that’s less burdensome. You and your spouse may decide that you need to hire someone to help with some of the household chores.
Don’t give up on sex
Everyone knows that in every marriage sex is an important part. MS does not mean that your spouse is no longer interested in having sex. It’s normal that as all our bodies change, there will be changes in functioning, and the more you can communicate, the more your chances for enhancing sexual intimacy increase.
With MS, changes in sexual functioning are explained in three different ways, all of which can happen at the same time:
- Primary: Damage to the central nervous system in women often contributes to an inability to become aroused, to achieve vaginal lubrication, or to experience an orgasm. In women, additional foreplay and flirting can lead to arousal. Lubricants such as K-Y Jelly increase lubrication. In men, MS can also affect arousal, as well as the ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Studies show that medications such for erectile dysfunction work in 50 percent of men with MS. Both men and women experience numbness and often pain, so some things that once felt good now are painful. Your doctor can prescribe medications for pain. As for numbness, increase stimulation manually or orally and take advantage of sex toys, such as small, egg-shaped vibrators that can be worn during intercourse.
- Secondary: MS symptoms, like fatigue, spasticity, and out-of-control bladder, can affect functioning and enjoyment. Meeting these challenges often requires good timing and self-care, including massage, stretching, and creative sexual positioning.
- Tertiary: The attitudes and cultural messages expressed by society often influence how we feel about ourselves and our sexuality. Take care of your body and remember that the way you dress has a big effect on the way you feel. Exercise is healthy for MS patients, you can work out as a couple to make certain you both look great in and out of your clothes. If you look good, you fee good.
I hope that this information will help you and your spouse to have a happy marriage with MS. Remember if you have MS or are a caregiver, a little time away can be a good thing. Line up friends, attend group meetings of people with similar interests, and build up social support so that you don’t depend on your partner for everything. Get out of the house and talk with a friend, minister, family member or therapist. When you get back home, you’ll be relaxed and rejuvenated.
BMWK, Have you or your spouse experienced any of the situations mentioned with MS?