Supporting couples to face the challenges of MS together
Supporting couples to face the challenges of MS togetherArticle from December 2019 edition of Intouch eNewsletter

Couples affected by multiple sclerosis sometimes regard the condition as an intrusion in their relationship; altering daily life, routines, future plans and making partners feel as if they're drifting apart, both physically and emotionally. 

Whilst it can be tricky to communicate our fears and feelings at the best of times, living with MS magnifies these challenges. Facing them together, however, can draw a couple closer. 

It’s with this understanding that MS runs Couples Retreats. We believe that spending quality time together in a supportive environment has the potential to reawaken a couple’s connection, giving partners renewed energy and confidence in each other, as well as reducing feelings of isolation.

In late October, MS Connect hosted a weekend retreat for 15 couples at the Mercure in Ballarat where they explored the importance of taking time out together, participated in workshops led by specialists in relationship counselling, psychology and massage therapy, and socialised with other couples who are also living with MS.
The workshops focused on giving couples information on building communication skills, working in partnership to manage the impact that MS has had on their relationship, and providing a nurturing and supportive space for them to explore the benefits of connection, touch and intimacy. 

Additionally, the workshops gave couples the opportunity to meet and learn from each other, resulting in 80 percent of couples exchanging contact details to keep supporting each other.

Date night at the Sound and Lights Show at Sovereign Hill and lunch at the Yacht Club provided opportunities for partners to have fun together and to socialise and network with other couples.

Upon the weekend’s completion, they reported feeling more positive, recognised, valued and nurtured in their role.

Couples also reported feeling more confident in accessing links and support in their community to manage the impact of MS in their relationship, with many having since contacted MS Connect to access ongoing support and groups.

There was also a general feeling of rejuvenation amongst the couples and confidence in having more tools and information to support their relationship, with one partner saying, “I highly recommend this to anyone needing to refocus their relationship with themselves and their partner.”

The hand massage struck a special note in couples, with one husband remarking that the best part of the retreat was being able to enjoy the hand massage connection with his wife.

If you’re a couple living with MS and would like to know more about our Couples Retreats, receive some information and advice, or links to support and services, please call MS Connect on 1800 042 138.

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