Will arthritis change our relationship?
Most couples – whether they have arthritis or not – go through phases in their relationship when their sex life is less exciting or satisfying than it was. There may be physical reasons for this but emotional factors and stress often play a part. Emotional upsets, work or money worries can all affect the balance of a relationship.
Arthritis can present a number of challenges in a relationship:
- Pain and fatigue may reduce your enjoyment of sex and other activities and interests that you share with your partner.
- Arthritis may mean that you can’t always manage the household jobs you usually do, or you may need help with them.
- If your arthritis affects your work, it may lead to financial worries.
- Having arthritis may affect your mood and self-esteem.
- Your partner will be concerned about how the condition is affecting you.
Although your relationship may change because of arthritis, it doesn’t have to be a negative change. Many couples find that they become closer by discussing things openly and that their relationship is stronger as a result. Talk about the changing situation and any challenges that you face so you can arrive at a solution that’s right for both of you.
For example, most people with arthritis prefer to keep as much independence as possible, so a partner taking on the role of carer will need to find the right balance between providing help and support without being overprotective. It can be difficult for a caring partner to recognise that their help isn't always wanted.
Some couples find it difficult at first to talk openly, so you need to create a comfortable, relaxed time to talk. But once open communication has started it can be a great relief for both partners.
What if I'm not in a relationship?
Some people with arthritis lose their self-confidence and worry about forming new relationships, especially if they have swollen joints or other visible signs of the condition. But most relationships develop gradually and depend upon shared interests more than physical considerations.
Keep up your social contacts as much as possible and think of new activities to try, especially if there are some that you now find difficult.