Living With Chronic Pain: Making Sure Your Marriage Survives The Rough Road Ahead
Being told you have a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia is scary enough, but once you get past processing this news yourself, you need to consider how it is going to impact those around you. The pain that you experience from fibromyalgia is going to change both your day-to-day activities and your sleeping patterns. To make sure your marriage survives the rocky road you are about to travel, you need to be mindful about what your spouse needs to get through this period of transition too.
It is natural when dealing with chronic pain conditions to try and keep your discomfort to yourself, but when you do this you are hiding away the real you from your spouse. While you may have concerns that if you add a voice to your pain levels too often you will be seen as a complainer, bear in mind your spouse cannot read your mind. So that your spouse can understand what is going on, there are ways to be vocal with dignity about what you are experiencing:
- Give your pain level a number between 1 to 10 and let your spouse know once it reaches a point that it stops you from doing daily chores etc. For example, if you find a pain level of 6 is enough to put you into bed, give your spouse a warning when you reach level 5. This way, they won't be surprised when you have to rest up for the remainder of the day, and they can chip in to help you with things like dinner preparation without you feeling obligated to ask.
- Make a note of the non-verbal clues when you are experiencing severe pain, and let your spouse know what these are so they know to watch for them. Have you noticed your voice pitch goes up a notch when you're gritting your teeth in pain? Does your body go stiff and rigid? Tell your spouse about these things so they can help you when you're starting to show the signs of extreme discomfort.
As well as working on keeping your marriage solid yourself, you should also take part in marriage counselling.
There are a lot of adjustments you need to make so you can get used to living comfortably in a world that now involves pain. The problem for your spouse, however, is that even though they will try to support you as much as possible, many spouses suffer from guilt because they are still living a pain-free life. It is very distressing for your spouse to see you go through this, and they may emotionally withdraw while they try to deal with their own feelings about it.
Marriage counselling during a traumatic time can help your marriage in a number of different ways:
- It keeps the doors of communication open. Booking a set time once a week to attend at your counsellor's office means you have a defined period where you can speak about what is troubling you.
- A marriage counsellor can teach you both different techniques for dealing with the pain, and supporting each other as you move down this new path.
- A marriage counsellor can make sure that any problems you both are experiencing right now are faced early on, before they become bad habits that can have a lasting effect on the marriage.
It is time to take care of yourself as you move into a new phase of your life that involves living with chronic pain, but don't let that pain become the third person in your marriage. Tackle this problem head on together, and get all the help you need to keep the communication channels open.