I have arthritis! Why won’t my husband believe me?

Ms. Meniscus,

I know that my husband loves me and all, but when my knee flares up I am very creaky and do not want to be bothered by him. I tell him that it is the arthritis that is causing me pain, but all he says is, “That’s OK, your knee is just hurting. It will be alright.”

creaky wife

Dear Creaky Wife,

It sounds like you need some alone time, and so does your husband. Both of you are going to have to break some old comfortable but destructive habits if you’re going to move past his insensitivity to your condition and your willingness to put up with it.

First, it seems that you are having difficulties educating your husband about the realities of your condition. Is he trying to be nice when he answers you or is he trying to shut you up? You need to understand which it is, and the best way to find out is to ask.

Maybe he does not understand that you will have good days and bad days, but that’s no reason to make it your responsibility to coddle him. Put it out there. You have a degenerative joint disease. It’s no fun. Try talking to him about your arthritis, and make sure he understands there are days where you do not be feel 100 percent and you would appreciate his compassion and support. Even though these flares come on stronger some days, it does not mean that you can abuse your joints on the good days either. Being a degenerative disease, once damage is done to your joints, it is not repairable, so you need to be extra cautious in all your day-to-day activities.

The reality is that some days you will need to lie down and rest, but that is OK. Since you have tasks to complete even on your sick days, your husband needs to know that you will need someone to support and help out when you are not able to complete a task. And don’t be afraid to ask him to do it.

Also, watch the way you react to your husband during your flare ups. If you snap at him because you do not want to be bothered, he might get defensive and say something insensitive. Before you assume he knows you are having a flare, make sure you tell him that your knee is bothering you on that particular day.

You might even consider taking your husband to a doctor’s appointment with you. Let him experience what it’s like, and let your doctor know he’s coming with you so she can impress him with her authority. (I know your doc is probably a “he” but I wanted to say that to make sure we don’t fall into the habit of thinking it’s men who are always in the authority position.)

Good luck,

– M

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