How many hours, no, years, have you spent trying to improve your own or your partner’s physical health and chronic pain? I have spent years and tens of thousands of dollars trying to get better. For months, I was flying interstate to see the best specialists in Australia. Of course, we couldn’t keep that up.
Now, how many hours and dollars have you spent on your mental health? My guess, not as much. Last year I invested more money on my mental health in 6 months than I had over the previous six years of experiencing chronic pain. Want to know why? Because research continues to highlight:
“It is not only the intensity of pain a partner experiences, but also the mental health wellness of both partners that determines relationship satisfaction.”
Here are the reasons why focusing on mental health is important for any Chronic Pain Couple:
Person in Pain:
- There is a loss of identity when struggling with chronic pain. It is traumatic and you should find the time to explore the hurt and your new identity without judgment.
- You need evidence based strategies to become mentally strong to cope with long lasting pain and flare ups.
- A psychologist is a great support person. Sharing the burden makes it easier for your partner too!
- Chronic muscle tension from stress causes more pain so strategies to decrease stress is important.
- Negative thoughts and judgments about your pain only exacerbates the pain and fuels anxiety and depression.
- There may be grief relating to family, work and financial planning restrictions.
- Exploring ‘the meaning of life’ with a psychologist can be helpful.
Partner of Someone with Chronic Pain:
- There can be feelings of disappointment and loss when your partner is changed by chronic pain.
- It can feel as though you share your partner with a third person (the pain) who takes their energy and attention.
- You need to work through any guilt experienced when you enjoy activities your partner can’t do.
- It is important to be encouraged to stay connected with your friends.
- You may need to work through the change in direction your partner’s pain causes. Your dreams, hopes and aspirations for your family’s future are likely impacted.
- Loss of intimacy is a big issue for both people in the relationship.
- It is difficult watching your partner suffer.
- It is likely your roles have changed and you experience financial burden.
- Lack of spontaneity can be hard to adjust to, as well as social isolation.
Written with love and pain,
The Chronic Pain Couple