23 Tips For Men on Supporting a Partner with Chronic Pain
This is a wonderful article from a husband’s point of view on how to support a spouse/partner who is in chronic pain. He shows greater empathy than most of us are capable of, and this list makes good points that anyone can put to use.
We will be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary this week, and I can say without a doubt that despite the problems that come with periods of joblessness and raising two kids to maturity, the thing that has had the biggest influence on our marriage has been pain.
1. I think that it is important to think of pain as your common enemy, not as a part of your wife or baggage that comes with her.
2. If your wife is anything like mine, she will try to hide her pain from you.
3. Because women in chronic pain have to be good at ignoring their own pain, their maximum sneaks up on them and on you.
4. To avoid a pain-storm, be on the look-out for non-verbal clues of increased pain.
5. When you note the non-verbal clues of increased pain, reflect them back to her.
6. Chronic pain does not mean that the person has the same level of pain every day or even at various times in the day.
7. Don’t let her “should” on herself—beat herself up for what she cannot do.
8. One of my early ways of dealing with my wife’s chronic pain was to encourage my wife not to do things that caused her pain.
9. Women in chronic pain are used to working through pain, distracting themselves, minimizing etc.
10. The key thing to remember is that pain builds even while you are managing to ignore it.
Pete has another 13 suggestions for “post-surgical or other high pain events” in the article.
There is nothing that makes me feel as helpless as watching my wife suffer. I would far rather just absorb the pain myself. But I have discovered that while going away physically or emotionally may be less painful for me, it is selfish and actually adds to my wife’s suffering. Being strong for her does not mean hiding my feelings. In fact, my tears of frustration and pain often give her validation or permission to express her own emotions. All that being a husband and a good man requires that I stay by her side in body, mind and heart and that I do what is within my power to ease her pain, offer her comfort and support her