thorn-like spine wrapped around a heart

Having AS and Fibromyalgia in a Relationship

Last updated: March 2022

Recently, I have been thinking about my relationship with my partner. Specifically, I'm thinking about how having AS and fibromyalgia has affected our relationships.

My partner is always kind and understanding about my pain and limitations. He always asks what my pain is like and adjusts accordingly, he helps me make things more accessible for myself, and does everything he can to meet me where I'm at given my abilities that day. He also accounts for my pain and fatigue when making plans, making sure to make time for rest. He helps me navigate my brain fog, offers a listening ear when I talk about my frustrations with being chronically ill, and helps me squash my internalized ableism. He even helped me buy my first cane.

I got diagnosed a few months after we started dating

I shared this with my partner and we were glad I finally had a name to give to my pain. At this point, the pain caused by AS and fibromyalgia was annoying but hadn't impacted by functionality much yet. It was a little over a year later, around the beginning of the pandemic when my condition worsened. I know my health-related issues are a lot to take on and can be overwhelming sometimes, but he has never made me feel any less because of it.

Although he doesn't complain and is very understanding, I've noticed several ways that having AS and fibromyalgia has affected our relationship. For starters, we don't live together and my pain and fatigue make it difficult to spend much time together. We used to see each other at least once a week but now we see each other a couple of times a month. I can no longer drive to see him as driving exacerbates my pain, so he always comes to see me now. I also can't talk as much on the phone or in person because of the brain fog and fatigue so we barely talk some days or talk less during our limited time together.

We go out far less often than we used to

And when we do, I can't walk for very long or very far, even while using my cane. Even going to the movies, one of my favourite activities with my partner, has grown increasingly more difficult. It makes me sad sometimes because we don't get to go out and bond together the way other couples do.

Another aspect of our relationship that has been affected is intimacy. When the pain is bad, holding hands, hugging, kissing, or anything else is too much for me to bear. He is always understanding but it is so frustrating to want to be present with my partner and not be able to do that mentally or physically because of the pain.

It's puts a strain on us

We have a strong relationship so we have been able to withstand the issues that my health causes, but it definitely puts a strain on it. As I learned more about chronic illnesses and being disabled, I shared this with my partner. I think this helped both of us to understand my health and what that means for our relationship. We have adjusted in a lot of ways and try to take each day as it comes and adjust accordingly. My partner is my biggest supporter and helps me deal with AS and fibromyalgia every day. I'm so thankful for him.

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