What To Do When Migraine Headaches Strain Your Relationships

Mary and her husband John have four adorable children and a loving extended family. The kids are active in school, sports and social events every week, and the couple enjoys hanging out with their extended family a few times a month. Lately though, Mary’s migraine headache pain has limited her ability to take the kids to their activities, care for the house and spend time with the family. John is beginning to feel the strain of carrying most of the load as he works full-time and juggles the kids, the house and family functions with little help from his wife. She knows he’s frustrated, but despite her best efforts, the migraine symptoms continue to plague her.

Can you relate? According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines affect almost one in four U.S. households. You’re not alone in your struggle with the toll your migraine headache pain takes on your relationships, and these four tips offer you and your loved ones hope as you face this challenge together.

1. Have a “Heart to Heart” Talk

Until now, your migraines have divided you and your loved ones. While no one wants to split because of the migraine headache, you suffer debilitating pain as your loved ones watch helplessly and feel their resentment, anger and frustration grow. Rebuilding your relationships will take time, but it is possible. Start working together now and schedule the first of many heart to heart conversations.

Because you can’t predict when a migraine headache will strike, consider writing down your thoughts and ask your loved ones to write down their thoughts too. Read the essays and discuss them when you’re feeling well. During this heart to heart talk, you both get to speak your mind and come up with workable solutions rather than continuing to attack each other or suffer in silence and growing apart.

2. Invite Them To Your Doctors Appointments

Even as they watch you suffer, loved ones don’t always understand how painful and debilitating a migraine headache can be. Invite your loved ones to visit the doctor with you, and allow the doctor to legitimize your pain and share details about migraine symptoms.

Literature, test results and other information from a physician help your loved ones understand that you don’t make up pain to get out of doing household chores or stay in bed on purpose to avoid family events. With this information, loved ones can better understand your pain, identify migraine headache triggers and discover ways they can help you relieve the symptoms.     

3. Prioritize Honesty

Now that you and your loved ones have shared a heart to heart talk and spoken with your doctor, commit to honesty. Lying about disappointment over missed family outings or frustration with extra responsibilities around the house only makes tension stronger.

If possible, schedule time together each day to process your thoughts, feelings and emotions. These meetings give you a chance to practice honesty and work out all the kinks a migraine headache causes in your relationship. Meet after dinner or when the kids go to bed. Sandwich any negative feelings or criticisms between praise, and always end by sharing something you love about the other person. With honesty, your relationship becomes stronger and healthier as you deal with migraines together.

4. Attend Counseling Sessions Together

Migraine headaches or any form of chronic pain can cause trauma in relationships. A professional therapist may help your family process your feelings, thoughts and needs. They can assist you and your loved ones in fighting fair, committing to kindness, lowering expectations and maintaining honest communication. Seeking professional help requires courage as you open up emotionally, but the rewards include a closer relationship and greater intimacy.

3 tips for finding a qualified therapist:

  • Ask friends for recommendations

  • Contact your health insurance company for a list of local therapists

  • Search online databases for qualified therapists near you

You may also be interested in this article: Of Love and Devotion: Husbands and Fathers of Chronic Migraine Sufferers

When a migraine headache hits, your life stops, but the strain on relationships builds and could cause irreversible damage. Prioritizing a heart to heart talk, education from a physician, honesty and counseling can reduce the strain. These tips also assist you in keeping your loved ones informed about your migraines and personal struggles as you deal with this difficult reality together.

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