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When MS Means Mighty Stubborn

By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 4)

A Winning Principle: Four Ways to Win

Dr. Covey’s fourth principle, “Think win-win” encourages a new type of negotiation that applies to personal relationships. Many of us focus on “the right thing,” “my way,” or some other aspect of a problem that tips the decision scales. Instead of convincing ourselves that there is a single correct way, we can entertain more possible “right” answers, and present more choices for caregiver and loved one. More choices make for better, and mutual decisions.

Caregiver and loved one can use this brief question list to open dialogue and prioritize what is really first order.

  1. One thing I insist on doing for myself:

  2. One thing I hated doing before but push myself to do now:

  3. One thing that steals time from our relationship:

  4. One thing we can do as a team that helps our connection:

For example, a wife may insist she dress herself daily. Depending on the degree of compromise, this may seem irrational to a husband who has to get ready for work as well as deal with other morning issues. One spouse may not be a “morning person,” and this is another adjustment to make. However, if we attempt to apply the win-win strategy, we’ve made progress toward reducing caregiver stress in the long term. The spouse who insists on dressing themselves can have their clothing laid out and go about their business while the other handles the affairs that need immediate attention. It may take the patient longer to dress, but if they are not involved in other activities, it makes no sense to rush them through one process, only to have to sit by and watch while everyone else is “functioning.” At some point, the person can be checked on and mainstreamed into the bustle of the day. If a patient knows time limitations, those can be set in advance. A caregiver may find that the patient will say “You know, I could use some help,” and the struggle for independence becomes a choice for assistance.

Admitting there were activities that were undesirable might be easy when health is not an issue. Both caregiver and patient can reflect on the questions, and may find that they dislike the same activity (allowing them to delegate this to someone in the family, or pay for the service). They may also find they were doing the wrong chores to begin with. The wheelchair-bound MS patient may not mind folding laundry as a joint (or solo) activity, while the caregiver is doing the much-despised task of cooking.


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