“Genuine Hope” – Experiences of partners of people with MS

January 31, 2018

Partners of people With MS


Social support plays a pivotal role in our experience and management of chronic illness. Partners of people with MS in particular exert a key influence. It is surprising then that there is just a handful of scientific papers on the role and experience of partners of people with MS.

A new paper from our team published in Frontiers in Psychology is adding to this list. The study explores lived experiences of partners of people with MS (PwMS) who have adopted the OMS Recovery Program. As a partner of a PwMS herself, lead author Dr Sandra Neate was keen to understand partners’ attitudes to, and experiences of, the effect of MS and lifestyle modification on their life, relationship and view of the future held by partners. The research team interviewed 21 partners of PwMS who had attended an OMS retreat, a residential educational intervention which encourages lifestyle modification.

Although many themes were identified for partners, the paper reports on one of the study’s themes, the psychological shift experienced by partners of people with MS.

Partners of PwMS who have changed their lifestyle experienced a broad range of psychological adjustments. Dr Neate explained that:

…some partners expressed somewhat predictable psychological shifts previously described in the literature, such as difficult emotions and a sense of loss and sacrifice, [but] many partners experienced acceptance and adaptation and some partners expressed a body of new and encouraging psychological and philosophical changes.”

Hope and optimism

Previous research describes a fairly bleak view of being a partner of someone with MS. However, the partners in this study were quite a unique group – where the person with MS and, often the partner themselves, were undertaking lifestyle modification. The psychological shift experienced by partners occurred in this context. Partners reported a sense of hope, optimism, a sense of empowerment and taking control, confidence and personal growth.

Partners in our study frequently expressed that the self-management programme gave them genuine hope…” Dr Neate said.

Isn’t it wonderful that, for a disease in which classically there has really been no hope, the act of PwMS striving to look after themselves and get really healthy isn’t seen by their partners as some kind of hardship? In contrast, it gives them real hope and optimism for the future! By also keeping the person with the illness well, the OMS Recovery Program is a real win-win solution!

Professor Tracey Weiland and Dr Sandra Neate

You can read more about MS and the family here.

10 thoughts on ‘“Genuine Hope” – Experiences of partners of people with MS

    • Hi there,

      We are looking to run more retreats and events this year, but are still finalising some of those details. We will announce any updates on the website, but if you are interested in attending a future retreat, you can email [email protected] for more details.

      Kind regards, OMS team.

  1. I haven’t got a partner as he walked out on me after 20 years just as I lost my Mum who I had been caring for. I remain positive and hopeful…..

  2. I was diagnosed with MS 4 years ago. While my wife and children haven’t really changed their lifestyles as a result of my MS, they have been a constant source of strength and support. My kids are fantastic and always reassure me that I’m doing really well even when I know I’m not. Bless them. They and my wife have been incredible. They’ve gone through all the ups and downs with me. Their love and support has been unflinching. The sacrifices they’ve made without a grumble or murmur and their selflessness are truly wondrous. In them lies my hope and for them I want to get better and be better. They’re incredible. They really are amazing. More than anyone could ever ask or pray for and certainly more than I deserve.

  3. My partner has had MS for more than ten years and has been consistent with his OMS program .Having just retired I can also fully embrace the program and our health is really shining . Thanks for all the support through the website good vibes often just when we need it. Helen

    • Hi Helen,

      It’s great to know that you’re both doing really well, and we’re very glad that the website is helping.

      Best, OMS Team

  4. I’m losing my husband to the effects of his battle with MS he’s not the same man. 92nd that’s okay we love and support him always. We have 2 young daughters who are also a great strength to him. But he’s slowly shutting us out. His coping mecignism is to ignore his MS so it’s almost as if we have become a reminder to him. He almost seems resentful of it. He’s not normally a selfish man but lately that has changed. I know he loves me and our girls but not sure if he can handle the truth that we know. I’m lost any direction would be so welcomed.

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