If migraines are straining your relationship, you’re not alone. A study of 13,000 people with migraines found that the chronic condition can cause relationship problems, delays in getting married or starting a family, and much more.
Members of MyMigraineTeam acknowledge that the chronic physical and emotional pain associated with migraines has stressed their relationships. Many feel at fault, isolated, misunderstood, and worried about the future.
"Most of our fights are about my health. I love [my husband] and don't want to lose what we have, so how do I bridge the gap?” shared one member. Another said: “My husband never helped me, not even to check on me. If I was in bed all day, he wouldn't come near me.”
Some relationships break up, divorce, or never get off the ground when migraines act as a “third wheel.” “[My husband] couldn't understand why I couldn't take care of him,” shared one member. “The headaches can't be that bad, [he’d say]. We are no longer together.”
In some cases, migraines are the tip of a bad-relationship iceberg. “My husband went from understanding to [being] annoyed that I couldn't go out, and irritated that I needed the house quiet. We're divorced now, but that was just a piece of the problem. Sometimes it’s easier to go it alone,” admitted one member.
Even single people with migraines wonder whether it’s worth entering a relationship. “My kids have really been on me to start dating,” said one woman six years after her divorce. “But my body hurts, I have very little energy, is it fair to even start a relationship with someone? I’m pretty happy alone, most of the time.”
Relationships that survive migraines tend to be solid from the start. “When I met my present husband, I told him about my past. He understood about the migraines and supported me. We’ve been married 25 years, I still have migraines, and he still supports me,” said one member.
Making peace with migraines and marriage can take years of work. “My husband has come around in the last three to four years,” said one member who wrote about finding the balance between illness and support. “Migraines have really taken a toll on my life and health – and he finally sees that!”
Talking openly about migraines, when possible, helps partners and caregivers “get it.” “My husband and I have a hard time communicating. But we’ve learned to talk it out until we understand what the other is trying to relay,” shared one member.
Members advise others to “understand that it’s just as hard on them to watch you suffer.” One woman tells her husband to “go and enjoy things,” even if she can't. “I encouraged him to play in his band. I sent him to my nephew's wedding yesterday. Let your guy in as much as possible. It really can work!”
Setting relationship boundaries is key to survival, especially when you deal with migraines. “I made a list of boundaries that help me [avoid] the toxicity of abusive or dramatic relationships with men, women, friends, or family - lines I won't cross because I can't afford to get sicker,” shared one woman. “Took me over 20 years to figure this out.”
One woman saved her marriage with a “migraine bedroom.” “It's a room I go to,” she wrote. “[My husband] will check in, just to make sure I’m still breathing!”
Sometimes, distance is the only thing that helps. “When I get away from my stressor [ex] husband and [current] boyfriend, the headaches go away,” reported one member.
Members on MyMigraineTeam provide much-needed support to others juggling migraine pain, a difficult partner, or a relationship on the rocks.
“When we have health issues, it's important that our relationships remain as drama-free as possible,” advised one woman.
Another shared a bit of light-hearted advice with a distressed member: “I hope this makes you smile. My ex-husband was a big guy. I used to ask people, ‘Do you know how to get rid of 280 pounds of unwanted fat? Divorce him!’ LOL. Hope things get better for you. Hang in there!”
On MyMigraineTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with migraines, members talk about a range of personal experiences including relationship struggles.
Here are some conversations about migraines and relationships:
Have another topic you'd like to discuss or explore? Go to MyMigraineTeam today and start the conversation. You'll be surprised how many others share similar stories.