Living with Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain and Divorce


Unfortunately, marriages in which one spouse has a chronic health condition are more likely to end in divorce in comparison to marriages where chronic health concerns are not an issue. Divorce is even more likely if the couple is young or if the wife is the one with the chronic illness (in a husband-wife marriage). Several factors contribute to the breakdown of a marriage in which one spouse has a chronic health condition, including heightened emotions, increased responsibilities, and intimacy issues.

Heightened emotions

The spouse with chronic pain may be irritable or lash out due to heightened pain levels or the effect of chronic pain on their emotions. Their spouse may deal with feelings of anxiety or depression, which can create strain in the relationship.

Increased responsibilities

Chronic pain may necessitate a role reversal in terms of household tasks or may require one spouse to assume multiple roles. The spouse with chronic pain may not be able to do household tasks that they once did, such as mow the lawn or clean the house. This may cause them to feel more like a dependent than a partner, and their spouse may feel resentful because of increased responsibilities.

Intimacy issues

In some cases, chronic pain may lead to a loss of sexual intimacy either due to the pain or medication side effects. Because physical intimacy is an important part of a marriage, this loss may contribute to the breakdown of the relationship and the desire to divorce.

When chronic pain interferes with a successful marriage, the affected couple can help sustain the marriage with clear communication, stress management, or couples therapy.

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