Living with Chronic Pain

5 Tips for Supporting a Partner With Chronic Pain


When one person in a relationship has chronic pain, their partner may not know how to help or how to provide support. As much as they wish they could, they cannot make their partner’s pain disappear. This can lead to feelings of helplessness. However, there are many things an individual can do to offer support when the person they love is dealing with chronic pain.

Five tips for supporting a partner with chronic pain include the following:

  1. Communicate. Lack of communication can lead to false assumptions or feelings of frustration for both people in the relationship. It can be tempting to avoid conversations about chronic pain because it does not have a simple solution. However, while not all conversations should center around chronic pain, it should be discussed. The partner of the individual with chronic pain can provide support simply by asking them how they are feeling or if they need anything.
  2. Learn about chronic pain and any related underlying conditions. Learning about chronic pain and any related health condition makes it easier to understand what an individual with chronic pain experiences and how to best support them. Learning about this part of their life also shows interest and concern. Attending medical appointments, asking questions, and reading research-based articles or books are valuable learning tools.
  3. Help with errands and chores. Individuals with chronic pain may be unable to complete household tasks that they were once able to do, such as grocery shopping, vacuuming, or washing the dishes. Assuming these tasks for them may prevent heightened pain levels and allows them to save their energy for more important or more enjoyable activities. Discussing which chores fit each partner’s abilities can help balance the workload.
  4. Offer a shoulder to cry on. Dealing with chronic pain can be as emotionally challenging as it is physically challenging. The partner with chronic pain may feel frustrated with their condition or sad about things they can no longer do. Listening to their concerns and providing emotional support goes a long way. If emotions become overwhelming, individual or couples therapy may be beneficial.
  5. Take care of mental and physical health. It is difficult for an individual to support a partner with chronic pain if they are struggling with their own physical and emotional challenges. Self-care activities, such as managing stress, practicing good sleep hygiene, eating a well-balanced diet, and participating in regular physical activity, are important for both individuals in the relationship.
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