I have a friend who says his marriage failed because of his multiple sclerosis. I believe him. I’m not questioning the validity of what he says. I never ask for specifics. I love my friend. So, I believe him.
However, his statement has made me curious, perhaps pensive, regarding my own relationship with my husband as it pertains to MS. What my husband does for me is above and beyond what I ever thought love was. It’s something you can’t understand the true definition of until you live through it. When we take our vows we think we know, but I don’t believe we do. The love he shows for me, with my multiple sclerosis, is the kind of love you must graduate to after years of togetherness. It is a mature love. One I pray all of you get to realize at some point in your life. AH, my husband.
The thing about being diagnosed with this disease is that it doesn’t just solitarily touch us. We are a pond, our lives. The MS diagnosis is like a stone that is thrown directly at us, but there’s a ripple effect. Nonetheless, that starts from the inside and works its way out. The people closest to you are affected the most drastically, and it works its way out from there. Acquaintances probably being the last and least affected. So, your partner, whether it is a husband, girlfriend, wife, boyfriend, family member you spend your life with, will get the brunt of it. Ah, my husband.
There’s so much irony in this. You feel so alone, so isolated in this disease. I felt like no one understood that I carried the physical toll, the loss of mobility, the pain (emotional and physical). In the beginning, I felt that this was mine and mine alone. What I failed to consider in the beginning of all this was that life is so much more than physical tolls. We have budding careers, mortgages, babies, etc. In that sense, our partners are affected by our disease on many levels too. That is the toll my husband had to carry. Not once did my husband ever mention anything about who my MS has affected him. Everything that was put on his plate because of my MS, he digested with love, without a second thought.
To boot, you have to reassess your life when you find out you are sick and learn to live differently by adopting healthy lifestyles (at least I did). Are you being stressed by a job, but chained to it because of a high mortgage, or a certain lifestyle you are used to? If so, and you decide this must change, you may need to downgrade, simply to distress and begin the process of healing. My husband had to deal with this too, and once again, he didn’t flinch. I cried leaving the home where so many memories were created. He took my hand and we didn’t look back. “Mama, just remember, our family is our home, not a building with walls.”
I’m so grateful for my husband, but there were times where I felt he didn’t understand. I have learned that love is, like my friend Kristin sings, the benefit of the doubt, to speak with love and compassion (he is not a mind reader, esp. being so busy), and to be affectionate. Heed these words my friends, they will take you far. It isn’t all about us, remember that when you struggle. Compassion and love go a long way. It’s taken us far!