Tuesday, April 3, 2001
I am not a marriage counselor or a licensed therapist. I have no prescription for making relationships work when disability forces its way into the lives of two people.
However, the Michigan Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a few things to say about this sometimes sensitive subject.
In its most recent issue of a quarterly magazine sent to member "MSers," the Michigan chapter lays out three basic suggestions to help keep people together when disability threatens to move them apart _ as it often does.
These suggestions seem to apply not only to those with MS, but also to those with all kinds of disabilities.
In fact, the suggestions make sense whether couples are dealing with disabilities or not.
The MS Society says the items are easy to remember, not so easy to do, but the benefits will be great if you can do them." The three items are:
Communicate. Talk to your partner. Let him or her know what is going through your mind, how you're feeling, what you like and what you don't. Talk about "the good, the bad, the whatever," the magazine said. "You don't like being closed out _ neither do they."
Don't isolate. Go to meetings, go to church, go next door, go anywhere so you are not staring at the same four walls, the MS chapter says. "You both need stimulation, laughter and other people," the article went on to say. "Sure, it's easier to stay home. But do so and you will soon find yourself in the depths of loneliness, anger and despair."
Think about your spouse. Put yourself in their position. Think of yourselves as a team.
"What each of you does affects the other," the MS group says. "It's real simple _ you make your spouse happy, your spouse will make you happy."
The story also reaffirms what I have long said _ that when disability strikes, it doesn't strike just one person _ it affects everyone connected to that person.
"When love is concerned,
both parties share the burden," the group says.