So I was just reading a study on the effects of RA on sexual intimacy in long-term relationships/marriages. It’s interesting that only a minority claim that their RA affects their intimacy with their partner, as I would have expected that to be a larger amount (note: the study did say “large minority”).
But before the study got down to the vertical tango, it mentioned some of the responses that those participating in the study gave about their general relationship health/perception. It’s interesting to note how many of them feel as though they are bringing their healthy partner down. There were many comments along the lines of: “feel guilty about not being able to pull my weight, etc” or “he always has to look after me or consider my ability to do certain things… strengthened our relationship.”
It really seems interesting to me how many people believe that RA strengthened their relationship. This study seems to have been focused, however, on people who were already married/together when the diagnosis of RA came. I would like to see more research done on girls like myself, who have had RA for a big part of their lives or, at least, before they met their current partner. It doesn’t even have to be focused on only the sexual nature of the relationship. I want to see how other younger people are dealing with the problems and insecurities created by RA, specifically pertaining to relationships.
As for myself, I believe that my RA has strengthened my relationship with my boyfriend. I believe that, as I have shared more and more about how RA affects me than others may know, it has created a better bond between the two of us. I do worry a lot that he does have to do more in our relationship, and I often feel guilty, like I don’t pull my weight – financially, physically, emotionally. He has to be there more for me than the average relationship might entail. The biggest problems we tend to have seem to be on my side – I feel insecure and in a way inferior and instead of sharing that, I might lash out or become more needy, or more reserved. I tend to hide when I’m hurting or when things are bothering me, and I need to be more forthcoming with that kind of information. Even though I know that, I still find it difficult to do. There are even times – very seldom – when I get angry/frustrated that my boyfriend is the normal one. I don’t even know why really, because that’s just silly.
It does sometimes worry me that, statistically speaking, those of us with chronic conditions have a higher divorce rate. But I chose to believe that only really applies to the people who develop their disease during the relationship.