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Pain and Marriage

Although many married couples take the vow, “In sickness and in health,” at the altar, the truth is that when handled improperly, pain and disease can unfortunately tear a couple apart. While a spouse can be a huge source of support, introducing pain and illness into even the healthiest of marriages comes with its challenges.

When it comes to managing pain and its effects on your marriage, it’s important to focus on three categorical areas:
Understanding Your Limitations
Understanding Pain’s Impact on Your Relationship

Let’s take a closer look at each of these key categories now.

The number one thing that all couples must focus on - in good times and in bad - is proper communication. When chronic pain enters the situation, communication becomes really key.
Let your spouse understand your pain through your words. Having a full understanding of what you’re experiencing will help your spouse understand how to be there for you.
Give your spouse the power of education by not holding back details out of a desire to protect him or her. Your spouse should know the facts about what you’re going through.
Help your spouse understand what type of support you need. If you want him or her to be physically present when you’re experiencing particularly heightened pain and if you will feel slighted should he or she not make that effort, make that known.

In addition to the above, it’s important that you help your spouse to understand that you’re going to have good times and bad times. Just because pain has subsided for a period does not mean it’s gone permanently. The same goes in reverse. If you are experiencing a particularly intense bout of pain, that doesn’t mean the world is over forever.

Understanding Your Limitations
Some trouble that couples experience around chronic pain comes from the afflicted spouse’s desire to pretend that everything is normal. If you overextend yourself, you’re going to be irritable and you’re going to exacerbate your pain. Even if hiking is a favorite family activity, if it’s going to make your condition worse, you need to accept the reality that it might not be possible for you to participate the way you used to. Helping your spouse to have realistic expectations of what you can and cannot do will help to protect you both from hurt feelings and trouble.

Understanding Pain’s Impact on Your Relationship
When you go through something like chronic pain alongside someone, you see them at their best and at their worst. There may be times, as you cope with your chronic pain, where you need your spouse to help you with something you wouldn’t have otherwise brought him or her into. Something as common and every day as getting dressed or bathing can become difficult when you’re suffering from chronic pain. Instead of resenting the barriers that chronic pain is breaking down for you, embrace the closeness that you’re being given. Where you may have stayed shy and not let your spouse in, you are now an open book. Treat this newfound closeness as a benefit in your relationship.

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