3 Tips to Manage a Relationship with Psoriatic Arthritis
For better or for worse. When you are with a significant other for any length of time, you are bound to encounter both better and worse. If you or your significant other has psoriatic arthritis, it can feel like a whole bunch of worse with only a little sprinkling of better. The truth of the matter is that many relationships (understandably) just can’t survive the strain and challenges that come with the psoriatic arthritis lifestyle. My husband and I have now spent half of our married life trying to navigate through the peaks and valleys of chronic illness together. I was healthy when we were married and had our three children, when shortly after my youngest was born, I began experiencing noticeable symptoms in earnest.
How did my priorities change post-diagnosis?
In the seven or eight years since my diagnosis we’ve traveled a long and winding road together and I’m more grateful for his support and understanding with each passing day, new symptom, and additional diagnoses. No matter how you look at it, when you live with PsA, your life will fundamentally change. Where life once revolved around work schedules, drinks with friends, and running the kids around. Now it seems to always revolve around dosing schedules, doctor appointments, and learning how to gracefully accept help. Sure, it isn’t fair, but it is life with PsA.
How can strong relationships help psoriatic arthritis?
Facing the future of a life with PsA can feel bleak and overwhelming at times. So it is crucial to foster strong relationships and really plan activities that “feed” those relationships as part of your treatment plan. I’d even go so far as to argue it is nearly as important as choosing a biologic or finding a rheumatologist that you trust. It is vital to the mental health component of your treatment.
How do I accommodate for my relationship?
Am I saying that my relationship with my husband is perfect and I have all the answers? Heavens, no! We struggle in the same ways all couples struggle - communication, understanding, finding a “fair” balance of daily responsibilities. But we do try to value what each of us brings to the relationship. And honor the commitment that we made to each other. Part of that is learning how to make accommodations to the “traditional date night” that help make having a date night even a possibility. Because let’s face it, showering and “going out,” makes me feel exhausted just typing it.
Prioritize your relationship. Making your relationship a priority is more possible if you see the value in it. I know it is difficult to feel like it should be a priority when your joints are screaming. But life with PsA is all about making difficult choices. We have to make trades on our limited energy and choices about how to best use our time.
Plan, plan, and plan again. Doing your best to plan is a major part of all aspects of life with PsA. If you’ve spent enough time tracking your symptoms and treatments like I have, you might be able to make some pretty accurate guesses. You know about which days might be “good” days, the number of necessary rest days, and how to best plan for what needs to be done.
Be flexible. Date night doesn’t have to “look” the same for you as it does for other non-chronic illness couples. The traditional “dinner and a movie” date might look like delivery and couch cuddles instead. Be flexible about subbing out high energy, high movement activities for similar low energy options. Think short strolls through flat trails instead of lengthy trail rides. Rent electric bikes that do the work for you or take a Segway tour instead of footing it around town.
Is it possible to balance PsA and relationships?
If the timing is right, you plan accordingly, and make it a priority, you and your significant other can foster a strong and committed relationship. A relationship that can offer mutual support to you and your significant other as you do your best to manage life with psoriatic arthritis.
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