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MS and Strategies for Family Planning

Minimize the Effect of Your MS on Your Loved Ones

Getting diagnosed with MS has ripple effects — when one person in a family is diagnosed with MS, the entire family is affected by it. Even though the symptoms are yours, your loved ones share everything from the impact of those symptoms on daily life to the financial pressures caused by MS. And like you, each family member is going to react to all of these challenges.

Talk about the tough stuff

One of the first hurdles for family members is figuring out how to talk comfortably — and honestly — with one another about the intrusion of MS in their lives. No one asked for MS, and no one likes it, so all of you are likely to feel sad, anxious, and maybe even a little resentful about the whole thing. Talking about these heavy-duty feelings can be difficult, particularly when you’re all worried about creating more upset or worry for people you love.

Family members also tend to have different ways of dealing with tough stuff. For example, you may be a talker while your partner is the strong, silent type. These different — and sometimes conflicting — coping styles are another barrier to communication. Try to recognize these differences when you’re in the midst of it all.

Keep daily life on track

As you may have noticed, MS symptoms can disrupt the rhythms of daily life. You may find that you can’t do some things as well or as fast as you used to do them, and that you need to swap some chores and responsibilities with other family members. You and your family members may finding that plans — especially outings and trips — are disrupted by pesky symptoms or unexpected relapses. Look for ways to keep the good times rolling.

Because MS symptoms are so unpredictable, you may all need to be a lot more flexible and creative than you have ever been before. Your goal as a family is to make sure that MS doesn’t interfere with your plans and priorities any more than absolutely necessary.

Maintain healthy partnerships

Couples generally don’t know what they’re getting into with that “in sickness and in health” line. So chances are, you’re probably learning from scratch how to adapt your partnership to the challenges of MS. You may want to look for help to keep your partnership feeling comfortable and balanced or to manage the symptoms that can interfere with your sexual relationship. Regardless of the path your MS takes, the goal is to maintain a healthy, mutually satisfying partnership.

If you aren’t already in a committed relationship, you’re probably in the dating scene, which is challenging enough without MS symptoms getting in the way. Strategize with a friend or counselor on how to talk about your MS with a prospective partner before you go out looking for one.

Become confident parents

When young adults are diagnosed with MS, some of the first questions they ask are about having kids. Young women want to know how a pregnancy will affect their MS and whether their MS will harm the baby. There are some important matters to keep in mind when making your family plans — such as the unpredictability of MS, the depth of your financial resources, and the strength of your support system. The simple truth is, however, that both women and men with MS can be terrific parents of healthy, happy children.

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