To start off Valentine’s week I decided to interview my boyfriend, Max, and ask him some questions about how arthritis has affected our relationship from the beginning. If you are looking to tell your partner about your chronic illness soon I hope you find comfort in these answers. If you are in a relationship with someone who has arthritis or any chronic illness you can definitely find some great advice below.
What were your initial thoughts when I told you about my arthritis and how has that changed?
I really didn’t know what to think. At the time, I had no idea what arthritis really was. I thought it was something that formed as people got older, so I was a little confused at first. But I could tell with how hard it was for you to tell me how serious this was for you so I made sure that I was patient and listened so that I could fully understand. I tried my best to show how accepting of this news I was and to make you feel as comfortable as possible because it didn’t and will never negatively change the way I feel about you. But if I had to do it over again, as you were telling me, I would do a better job at keeping you calm and making sure that you knew that everything was going to be alright.
What’s the best time to tell someone?
I think when you told me was perfect. We were alone and a month or so into our relationship. It can be big news to drop right away and I know it can be hard to share your story so make sure you are emotionally comfortable. It will also make it easier for you to tell them if they get to know you really well. By the time you told me your story and diagnosis, I had already heard stories about camp.
Did my disease change what you thought of me?
No, it is that simple. The only way that your arthritis has changed the way that I think about you is I now know just how strong you are. And how everyday battling this disease I see you getting stronger and stronger. Even now I see improvements in your strength and resilience to this and you absolutely inspire me with just how strong you are.
What are some ways arthritis has challenged our relationship?
I think if it has challenged our relationship it has been the fact that I do not and will never fully understand what it is like to live with arthritis. But this is a challenge that I embrace fully. I may not always know what to say or do but I will always be there to do whatever I can, even if that is just being there to hold you tight, get you Aleve, or massage your hands.
Has my arthritis affected you?
Your arthritis has affected me in the most positive way. I am way more knowledgeable now about it than I ever was or ever would have been. It has completely changed the way that I think about arthritis and other diseases for that matter. I feel much better being educated on the matter and I am ready to learn more each and every day.
What advice would you give to a couple going through a similar journey?
I would tell them both to be patient with each other. Don’t be afraid to stand up and tell them how you’re feeling. Look out for each other and look out for yourself. For the person with arthritis or chronic illness, be patient if your partner doesn’t know how to react or respond to certain things right away. For the person without, be patient with them and understand they are in pain. It can be hard for them always to stay positive. Always be there for them, always listen to how they’re feeling. It’s really no different from any other relationship; you should always be listening to your partner and be understanding of whatever they’re going through.
Special thanks to Max for answering these honestly and giving some great insight!