One night when I was sitting next to my husband, I noticed a certain multiple sclerosis article up on his screen that said it was okay for a man to divorce his wife post diagnosis. I basically jumped on top of my husband and said, “let me see that!” After confirming my suspicions about the article’s points, I had a scathing email all ready for the author when my husband said, “ Don’t start a war,” and I decided to let it go.
The idea of this post has stuck with me though for a number of reasons. First of all, when you get married, your vows more often than not include the words “in sickness and in health,” and to me that phrase is more important than ever after an MS diagnosis. Secondly, the idea of your husband having to “deal” with you in the prime of his life is awful! What about the wife being struck with this difficult disease in the prime of her life? My heart goes out to the over people who are newly diagnosed each year, but it does not go out to their entitled partners who still believe that they are entitled to happily-ever-afters.
After my MS diagnosis, my marriage actually improved. My husband and I became even closer than we had been before, as he quickly became my most trusted confidante. It turns out my situation is not a rare one.
In fact, the divorce rates between couples where at least one partner has multiple sclerosis are the same, or sometimes even lower than the “we’re–both-swell” counterparts.
In my marriage, we let my sickness bring us together instead of tear us apart. Before my diagnosis, we’d pick on each other and would just focus on what was wrong instead of what was right. After my diagnosis, with two little kids and this crazy prognosis looming over us, the things that we fought over in the past all seemed so petty. I was so grateful that my husband was there for me when I needed him most.
After being diagnosed, I learned to support my husband’s passions like he supports mine because now we both know how precious time is and we know to make it count. For example, several years ago I bought my husband a bike for our anniversary. Fast forward a few years and he’s now an avid cyclist with bikes worth more than my car! I love seeing how passionate he is about his biking and it thrills me to watch him race. Now we have more in common than just MS. I think it also helps us that we prioritize being grateful human beings who continue to be filled with love for one another. Since my husband and I came through a tough patch better off, I thought I would leave you with a few tips on keeping a marriage happy and full.
1. Talk with each other about everything. Not one single, stupid thought crossed my mind without sharing it with my husband. Although he sometimes doesn’t get what I’m saying, it’s a good practice to keep in mind.
2. Date each other. If you don’t make time for one another romantically, you’re never going to put each other first in other aspects of your lives.
3. Learn to compromise. Winning isn’t always the most important.
4. Touch each other even in the smallest of ways. Even if you touch your partners’ back in passing, it’s important and helps them know you care.
5. Encourage each other in the good and the bad times.
6. Let tour partner know how much you appreciate them.
7. Laugh together.
8. Remember to give each other space when you need it.
9. Last but certainly not least, say “I love you” often. People always need to hear it! Living with MS taught me that although I have no idea what’s going to happen hours from now, I can control the now and saying “I love you” as much as I can helps.
Unlike the article said, getting sick didn’t ruin my husband’s life. Instead, it made us savor every moment together, and appreciate the good times along with the bad.