What You Need From Spouse While Coping With Arthritis

Get What You Need and Have a Great Marriage With Arthritis

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It's a challenge to deal with arthritis. It's even more of a challenge to be married and dealing with arthritis. Your spouse can be your main support -- that is, if you get what you need from your spouse.

Cultivate a Partnership

Even if your spouse is supportive, they will only know what you need if you communicate your needs. Some people who live with arthritis believe their spouse should be observant and anticipate their needs.

The best approach is not to make a game of it and be on opposing teams. Spouses coping with arthritis need to be on the same team.

I have been married twice in my lifetime. Both were good men. Many of you know Rick was my co-guide on this website and that he had rheumatoid arthritis, as do I. We shared everything until he passed away, including 14 years of rheumatoid arthritis times two. Before we married, I remember a rheumatologist questioning if it would be a difficult marriage since we both had the disease -- but the doctor said he saw something in us that assured him it would be a great partnership. I think that was the key to our wonderful marriage -- it was a partnership in every way.

You might think that since Rick and I both had rheumatoid arthritis, we knew from experience what each one needed from the other. Certainly, we both had knowledge of rheumatoid arthritis -- what it was, how it was treated.

But our diseases ran very different courses. A characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis is that the disease is variable -- meaning, one day you may have extreme pain or fatigue and the next day can be totally different.

Essential Marital Ingredients

There are 4 essential components to help you get what you need from your spouse while coping with arthritis -- and vice versa.

That was the point of sharing some of my personal story. It doesn't matter if one spouse has arthritis, both spouses have arthritis, the husband has arthritis, or the wife has the disease. Regardless, you will need these marital ingredients.


Living with arthritis pain and physical limitations can be frustrating. Depending on the severity of your disease, arthritis can affect your ability to work, maintain a household, and enjoy leisure activities. When pain and fatigue are at a high level, arthritis can be a show-stopper -- and more likely than not, your spouse will have to step in and help. It's difficult for both of you. Never forget that it is difficult for both of you. And, both of you will need to have patience.


Don't expect your spouse to constantly read your mind. If you know what you need from your spouse, it's your responsibility to communicate your needs. It is unrealistic to expect your spouse to know what you need, without some effort put into communication. As hard as they may try, your spouse may misread what you want or what you need. Be forgiving if that happens and know it was not an intentional misread. Use the experience as motivation towards better communication.


Never fail to appreciate the kindness, understanding, and willingness to help that you get from your spouse. Even if it seems imperfect at times, your spouse is your main support. It should never be taken for granted. It should be appreciated -- always. The appreciation should also be reciprocated -- always.


Arthritis can add some unexpected bumps to your marriage. You need to trust that the foundation of your marriage can withstand anything. At times, arthritis will be difficult, unpleasant, even intrusive. Even so, you must protect the trust you have in your partnership.

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