Your Spouse Has Chronic Pain? Here Are 26 Ways to Support Them.
If you have a partner, spouse or loved one in your life with chronic pain, it can be difficult to understand exactly what they’re going through unless you’ve experienced it yourself. They likely require a lot more downtime at home than you to rest, heal and manage the pain, and may not feel up to going out very often. Chronic pain can also inhibit a person’s ability to work, accomplish household chores or even do everyday things such as showering and eating.
If one person is chronically ill but the other is healthy, this can put strain on even the strongest of relationships. Although it may be harder to put yourself in the other’s shoes or find a balance in which you both feel like equal partners in the relationship, it is certainly not impossible – and for many couples, facing obstacles together such as chronic pain can actually strengthen their bond and deepen their love for one another.
We asked our Mighty community to share ways the partner or spouse of a person with chronic pain can help and support them. Some of these gestures may seem small, but they can have a huge impact.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “Believe your spouse. If they’re having a bad day, believe them. Don’t try to force them to move or do things they say they aren’t up to doing. And always defend them when the need arises. Even if it’s against family.” – Jessie L.S.
2. “Simple: big hugs. And recognizing that a day on the sofa snuggling your partner can be incredibly healing.” – Heather T.
3. “Being there to listen to me vent and cry when I hurt and reassuring me that I’m not a burden. Hold my hair back when I throw up, help me shower, make sure I eat and stay hydrated. Rub my back (if I don’t hurt too bad). Be there for me any way I need, and don’t stop loving me.” – Kaitlyn Y.
4. “Sometimes just go at my pace along with me.” – Jo J.
5. “We are moving soon and I made it very clear that my body won’t be able to withstand the physical exertion and that we’d need to hire some movers. He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t worry, babe. I got you. You can sit there and be in charge with your feet up.’” – Victoria P.
6. “Be patient with them. Listen. Read about their condition and try to gain a better understanding of where they’re coming from. Remind them that you love them unconditionally.” – Ami C.
7. “My husband and I have a motto: ‘We’re in this together.’ With that in mind, he does his very best to listen and understand my situation, and vice versa. Anytime I get overwhelmed, he’s quick to ask what he can do, even if it’s just a hug or to wipe my tears.” – Alihanra G.
8. “Listen without trying to fix. It’s probably the hardest thing to do as a loved one.” – Cindy S.F.
9. “Communication is key. Ask before you do. ‘Honey, do you want help with this?’ And for the person with chronic pain, ask for help when you need it, no one is a mind reader… Especially if your pain varies and your physical abilities vary from one day to the next. Do what you can for yourself, and ask for help when you need it. Let your spouse/partner help you, allow them to be there for you in that way. This is one way they can share the burden.” – Rebecca M.
10. “Helping massage any sore areas is always a lovely gesture because it can honestly make such a huge difference.” – Amy L.
11. “One of the things my husband does that I super appreciate is helping with grocery shopping (especially bringing the food back) and making supper most days. Cooking, especially supper, can take ages and a lot of effort, so it’s super helpful that he does so much of it.” – Sheila V.
12. “Listen, empathize. Just listen and don’t try to fix what you can’t. Try to understand as best you can, even when you can’t possibly.” – Meemaw J.
13. “I suffer from brain fog and memory loss as a result of my chronic illness. It’s important to me that my spouse attend my doctor appointments to be my extra brain or an extra pair of ears.” – Lindsay G.
14. “My husband does so much for me, I’m so blessed. So the one thing I tell him often is to remember to take time for himself, too. So often caregivers go beyond the call of duty that they forget they have needs, too.” – Brandi J.
15. “Praise the small victories. ‘I only did one load of dishes.’ ‘That’s awesome, love! You are a rockstar! I appreciate you so much. I know that wasn’t easy. Sit down and rest now.’” – Priscilla G.
16. “Let them rest. Sometimes I just have to sleep, and allowing me to do so can be the best thing. If while I’m resting, my husband takes on some of the household work that needs to get done, then it’s even better. I’m so grateful and it helps me feel less guilty about not being able to do as much as I used to.” – Jennifer L.B.
17. “Reassure us that you’re there and not leaving. That we aren’t a burden.” – Jennifer M.
18. “My husband arranging for someone else to take our daughter for the day and then him spending time holding me during a flare-up is exactly what I need. I’m convinced being held and cuddled really helps eases my pain, even if it’s just placebo effect. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter to bits, but sometimes I need to come first. Obviously he can’t just ignore her – she’s 6 and an only child so [she] needs attention too. We’re lucky we have six sets of relatives who live locally enough that they can often take her out for the day at the drop of a hat.” – Nikki A.
19. “Some of the cleaning that is difficult to do while in pain. Vacuuming is a huge help!” – Nichole L.
20. “A big thing was helping me bathe. He made it seem intimate knowing I was feeling vulnerable for needing help. On the side of small things, he brushed and braided my hair for me. The longer my hair is, the easier it is to manage but it still hurts my arms and hands to brush it.” – Julia O.
21. “My husband installed a shelf in the laundry area where I can stack clothes without reaching over my head, which is a major trigger for my back pain.” – Kathy A.S.
22. “Take the time and learn about your conditions, side effects, medications etc. It makes a huge difference if they’re a little educated on what you’re going through.” – Kel W.
23. “My husband takes over for me whenever I get a flare. No matter what kind of day he’s had. Be there for your spouse. It’s the small things.” – Amber W.
24. “Resist the urge to give unsolicited medical advice. It feels like judgment, a scolding, like we’re not doing a good enough job of being sick. Instead, listen compassionately and ask how you can help.” – Shannon S.
25. “I wish my friends and family would take the time to read the posts I share from [The Mighty], considering I share the ones I want them to understand about what it’s like.” – Richard R.
26. “Love them. Seriously, just having my husband tell me he loves me every day is the best medicine in the world sometimes. Receiving texts throughout the day asking how I’m feeling or if he can pick something up from the store on his way home for me shows me how much he truly cares. I appreciate and love him for everything he does.” – Ashlee A.