One of the biggest concerns I hear when talking to people that are newly diagnosed is “How will this impact my dating life/relationship with my partner?” This, of course, is a very reasonable question considering the fact that psoriasis is so visible, is often misunderstood by onlookers, and has a big impact on our physical appearance.
I have been married for nearly 11 years, and together with my wife for 13, so I get this question a lot. But, instead of giving you my perspective, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to hear from my wife. So, I interviewed her (under oath that she would be completely honest in the spirit of education and awareness).
What was your first impression of me the first time you met me?
“I thought you were having an allergic reaction. I was actually really concerned you needed some medical attention. I asked my friend about it, but she just laughed and told me that you had psoriasis. I had never heard that word before, and I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what it was. But you were funny, and since you weren’t dying, I decided to get to know you a bit more.”
Has my skin ever grossed you out?
“It really hasn’t. I know this may not be the norm, and some people may roll their eyes, but it honestly has never made me feel anything akin to disgust. It has, however, been frustrating at times. Not being able to touch you or be intimate with you when you are in a flare can feel disappointing, but I try to just think of how much worse it is for you. In fact, that is kind of how I knew you were ‘the one’. Friends would ask me if your lesions were ‘weird to touch’ and I never gave it a second thought. In fact, I think it’s weirder now that you are clear, because your skin feels so different than what I was used to for over a decade.”
What is your most embarrassing secret?
“I sucked my thumb until a disconcerting age. Why? What does that have to do with this?”
Just checking to make sure you are still telling the truth.
What is the worst thing about being married to someone with psoriasis?
“The fear of our kids getting the disease. I have seen how you have been treated because of it, and it breaks my heart. It’s hard enough seeing you get hurt; it is unfathomable to think of our kids also having to endure that.”
What is the best thing about being married to someone with psoriasis?
“It makes our relationship stronger. There are victories and hurts and fears all tied to this disease that we face together on a daily basis. I feel every day how appreciative you are to have someone to come home to every night that isn’t judging you, and I hope you know how appreciative I am to have a husband that fights every day and never gives up. That quality seeps into other areas of our lives and makes you an amazing role model for our kiddos.”
Wow. Thank you. Who put this water in my eyes? Ok, next question. How do you feel about psoriasis treatments?
“Ah-that is a mixed bag”
What do you mean?
“It has been so amazing to see you find success and be clear for the first time since I met you, but I have a lot of guilt. I wish I hadn’t been so scared and kept you from being more aggressive with treatments for so long. You have gained such confidence and pride and even look healthier now. I wish you would have been able to have that sooner, and I know I was part of the reason you wasted time on things that weren’t helping, but seemed to have less risk.”
What advice would you give to other supporting a loved one with psoriasis?
“Have patience. Have patience with your loved one and with yourself. This disease is unpredictable and tough. You will get frustrated, they will get frustrated, but that doesn’t mean it will be that way forever. Work as a team and take a part in your loved one’s health. Most importantly: be truthful. Don’t stop talking.”
I feel incredibly lucky to have a wife that supports me in my disease. It has taken us many years of living with this disease together to get this far, and we still have a ways to go, but what I hope you will take from this is that a psoriasis diagnosis doesn’t mean a lifetime of loneliness. You will find the person that isn’t bothered by it. They are out there and they will be so lucky once they find you.