Navigating the world when you live with migraine can be difficult. Not only does it affect you, but it affects your loved ones, too.
Managing migraine is a battle best fought together, but this is difficult to do without open and honest, ongoing conversations.
I have been battling migraine since I was a child. My husband and I had conversations about it before we got married, and 11 years later, we still talk about it openly.
Over the past 11 years, my migraine has gone from episodic to chronic. I experience more than 15 migraine days a month. As my disease has changed, so has our relationship with it — and with each other.
My husband is my best friend, my soulmate, and my migraine fighter. We work as a team, but learning how to cope with migraine is always a work in progress.
Here are some tips for talking to your spouse about migraine.
Stay as positive as possible
Migraine can bring on mood swings. Who wouldn’t be moody when in pain? I try to be extra conscious when speaking to my husband so that I don’t take offense to his feelings, say things from pain, or harp on the negatives.
It’s difficult to be positive when you feel vulnerable. Being vulnerable may bring tears, frustration, and other negative feelings. But it’s OK to feel those things and express them to your partner.
Speaking honestly allows my husband to see where I’m coming from and consider my feelings that he never knew I was having.
Then, we discuss how we can make things better. What is the biggest stressor and how can we, as a team, work to decrease it? The biggest stressor may not be easy to solve, but small steps can help.
Avoid blaming each other
I recognise the toll migraine takes on my partner and I allow him to be vulnerable. Migraine doesn’t just affect my life — it has altered his, too.
I encourage my husband to tell me how he feels about my condition and how it’s affecting him. We discuss how we can make things better for him without placing blame on me.
Avoid placing the blame on anyone. I have learned to not overcompensate or sacrifice my needs to appease the guilt I feel for having migraine. I say no when I need to and we both understand that my energy is best used fighting migraine.
There are many resources that provide information about migraine and explain how a person with migraine lives.
I educate my husband while I educate myself. I send him relevant articles, blog posts, and social media posts to explain how I feel or what we’ve discussed.
Understanding that my husband is not alone in his fight as a loved one, while I’m not alone in my fight against migraine, is powerful. Relating to the stories of others and learning more about the disease will take the guesswork out of an often puzzling situation.
My husband and I make changes together based on what we learn. If he’s available, he comes to doctor’s appointments with me. If he isn’t, I recount my discussions and my next course of action.
Having him understand my treatment plan helps him better understand how to help me manage my symptoms. We both ask questions, and we both listen for guidance.
Appreciate the small things
Our lifestyle is somewhat dictated by migraine, yet we appreciate the small things in life. We embrace lifestyle changes that are best for us.
When we can’t go out for dinner and a movie, we order in and rent one. I am grateful for any time I spend with him.
Save important conversations for after a migraine
It’s best not to get into a detailed important conversation during a migraine attack or nearing the start and end.
Brain fog and mood will be greatly heightened, so it’s best to find a time that works both emotionally and physically for both people. Skipping assumptions and really listening to each other’s frustration and needs will help with built up resentment and confusion.
Each relationship is different, as is migraine and how it affects your relationship. Being honest yet gentle is the best route. Remember that no one chooses to have migraine.
As migraine changes over time, so should your life, expectations, and conversations. Work together as a team in sickness and health and through thick and thin.
Just like migraine, marriage is a journey, and the best and hardest journeys are fought and enjoyed together.
UK/MED/18/0302 October 2018