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When you need help, but some “me time”, too

January 21, 2014


My wife has had to help me with more and more daily tasks as my MS has progressed, though I can still take care of my basic needs. I'm very grateful for all her assistance and I know I am the one being cared for but, honestly, sometimes I just want to be left alone. I'm an independent person and too many hours together is driving me crazy. How can I ask her to give me some space without hurting her feelings?

Needing Some Space

Nurse Susan replies:

I don't blame you one bit for feeling a little stir-crazy. As anyone who's ever been on a long car ride with a family member could probably tell you, it's good to get out and take a little break from one another sometimes. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if your wife is feeling a bit cooped up, too.

But as hard as it is for you to broach this subject with your wife, it could be even more difficult for your wife to feel comfortable leaving you alone. Care partners and families of people living with MS often neglect their own interests and activities, and sometimes even their own health, because they feel like they can't ask for help or fear that they'll be “abandoning” their loved one. Like most delicate issues, communication is important here. Sit together and have an honest conversation with your wife. Let her know you're missing some quiet time to yourself but that you'd also like to try to open the door for her a little, too.

Tell your wife you are okay with her taking time away from you to enjoy her own alone time and that you want her to be involved in outside activities—whether it's meeting a friend for coffee every week or going to the gym or volunteering at church. If the idea makes her nervous, then maybe you can agree that she can call you whenever she feels like checking in, or that you'll always carry your phone with you in case you need anything. You can also get peace of mind by discussing your plans with your doctor and involving your wife in the conversation.

By opening the door for your wife to pursue her own interests and activities, you'll not only get the personal space you're craving, but you'll be helping your wife take care of herself. This approach may help you both in the long run.

— Nurse Susan, MS One to One® Nurse

Nurse Susan ; Relationships ; Independence ; Communication


MS One to One® Nurse, Susan

Nurse Susan
Helping since 2012
Posts: 10

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