45 Years and Counting, Even With MS

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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Happy anniversary to us!

My wife, Laura, and I are celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary this month. It’s hard to believe, especially because the divorce rate for someone with multiple sclerosis is higher than it is for a healthy couple.

A review of records in the Danish MS-Registry a few years ago showed that the probability of a marriage continuing after five years was 86% for MS patients versus 89% in healthy controls. After 24 years, the probability dropped to just 33% for people with MS compared with 53% in the control group. I wonder what the probability is at our 45-year marriage milestone.

What’s kept us together?

After dating for six years, Laura and I were married four years before I was diagnosed with MS. So, we knew each other pretty well when the MS hammer hit.

Laura was a physical therapist and was working in the hospital where I was diagnosed. Therefore, she also knew my illness better than the average spouse would. Her medical knowledge was so good, in fact, that she diagnosed me before any neurologist did.

Laura noticed some of my symptoms, such as fatigue, before I did. One day, she accidentally tapped the bottom of my foot and realized that the violent shaking generated by her gentle tap was clonus, another MS symptom.

Laura knew that MS symptoms could be treated, but she also knew that I had a progressive disease for which there is no cure. When I was writing a book for people who are newly diagnosed with MS, I asked her how she felt when my diagnosis was confirmed.

“It was like jumping off a cliff,” she told me. “It was always there, 24/7. It was front seat, then back seat, then into the trunk.”

Independence is a virtue

Laura’s medical knowledge undoubtedly made it easier for her to be married to someone with MS, and eventually stuff it “into the trunk.” But I think there’s more to the success of our marriage.

We do a lot together, but we’re also very independent. We understand that we both need the space and the freedom to do things without the other. These things can be as simple as an evening with friends from work or even a couple days out of town without the other coming along.

Taking care of each other

We’re also a caretaker for each other. This is especially true as we’ve grown older and more frail. I believe this mutual caretaking has strengthened our bond. Laura has medical problems of her own, and I do the best I can to help her, just like she helps me. She’s way ahead of me on the caretaker scorecard, but I know she appreciates my efforts. A partnership is important.

While writing this column, I discovered a study that found that relationships between people with MS and their partners were improved when the couple worked together to make lifestyle changes and develop skills to improve communication.  Multiple Sclerosis News Today columnist Jennifer Powell put it this way a couple of years ago: “The ride may dictate the destination, but we will define the journey — together.”

Laura has just called from the other room, asking if I’d like her to make some breakfast for me. She doesn’t usually do that — she moves slowly in the morning — but she knows that I haven’t been feeling great the past few days. A little thing like offering to make coffee and cereal means a lot.

Happy anniversary, honey. I love you.

You’re invited to follow my personal blog at www.themswire.com.    

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Leanne Broughton avatar

Leanne Broughton

Happy Anniversary Ed and Laura! You've done well.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks, Leanne. I'll pass along your anniversary wishes to my other half.

Ed

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Debbie O'Rourke avatar

Debbie O'Rourke

Happy anniversary to you both. 💕

Always enjoy reading your column.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Debbie,

Thanks for your note and I'm very glad that you like the stuff that I write. We're looking forward to a big steak dinner tomorrow night to celebrate.

Ed

Reply
Anita avatar

Anita

That’s so sweet. You are both lucky that you found each other. And how lucky you were to have a PT for a girlfriend/wife. Congratulations on 45 years!

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks, Anita. Absolutely lucky. Of course, I like to think she's also lucky. :-).

Ed

Reply
Charles Lumia avatar

Charles Lumia

That's awesome! Grats guys!

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks, Charles. Seems as if it was only yesterdat.

Ed

Reply
Gloria Corrigan avatar

Gloria Corrigan

We also had an MS diagnosis early in our relationship and found we could get and stay married through the MS changes we faced! Thanks for your insights! Here are mine -

https://youraccessiblelife.com/what-about-tomorrow

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Gloria,

I'm glad the two of you are doing well. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Ed

Reply

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