Living with Chronic Pain

Does Your Spouse Have Chronic Pain? How to Support Their Parenting


Marriage and parenting are both rewarding and challenging. Parenting can be especially challenging for individuals with chronic pain. A parent with chronic pain may struggle with routine parenting tasks and may feel less involved in their children’s lives than they would like to be. However, there are several things their spouse can do to help.

Five ways to provide parenting support for your spouse with chronic pain include the following:

  1. Take on the parenting and household tasks that cause your spouse the most pain. Certain tasks are more likely to increase pain levels. Make sure to work with your spouse’s strengths. For example, your spouse may struggle to bend over to bathe the children, but can prepare family meals without an issue. They may be able to take on lower-energy tasks, like paying bills or helping with homework, while you complete higher-energy tasks like vacuuming or doing the laundry. Asking your spouse which tasks aggravate their pain and which are most comfortable to complete helps prevent increased pain levels and strengthens the family dynamic.
  2. Remind your spouse that they are a good parent. Your spouse may feel guilty about how their chronic pain affects their parent-child relationship. They may have to miss important events due to high pain levels or may not be able to participate in certain activities. Reassure them that they are a good parent and remind them of specific times they have been there for their child.
  3. Find creative ways to involve them in activities. If your spouse wants to attend an event that is important to a child, their attendance is more likely if you take on tasks earlier that day such as preparing meals or doing laundry so that they can rest. If attendance is still not in the cards, offering to video conference the concert or record it so that the whole family can watch it and discuss together the next day are great alternatives.
  4. Arrange for some alone time. Ask a relative to take the kids or hire a babysitter for a few hours so that you and your spouse can enjoy some quiet time together. This provides a much-needed break for your spouse and also strengthens the marriage. Plus, the children have the opportunity to go do something they might not normally get to do.
  5. Prioritize communication. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or frustrated, share your feelings with your spouse. Expressing emotions and dealing with them in the moment instead of bottling them up is healthier in the long run.

Additional sources: The Mighty, Slate

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