Living with Chronic Pain

The Potential Impact of Chronic Pain on Partners or Spouses


The impact of chronic pain goes beyond the affected individual; it can also impact their family members and friends. One of the most impacted relationships is between the individual and their partner or spouse. While chronic pain can negatively impact a partner or spouse, it can also benefit the relationship.

Negative impacts

When an individual deals with chronic pain, they may not be able to do as many household chores, such as cleaning, cooking or shopping. These responsibilities may fall to their partner, who may begin to feel overwhelmed or resentful.

Being the significant other of an individual with chronic pain can also take a toll on mental and physical health. Spouses or partners who become caregivers are more likely to experience depression or anxiety. They may feel stress or deal with feelings of guilt or helplessness. They may also have difficulty sleeping or develop pain themselves.

If chronic pain leads to loss of sexual intimacy in a relationship, this can also negatively affect a partner or spouse. Relationships in which one individual faces a chronic health condition are more likely to end in separation or divorce.

Positive impacts

Chronic pain can also positively impact a person’s partner or spouse. When a partner is able to help their significant other, it creates a feeling of connection. For some relationships, dealing with chronic pain brings partners closer as they work together as a team to manage the condition. Couples dealing with chronic pain tend to be more resilient in handling challenges than other couples.

When chronic pain impacts a partner or spouse, the couple should embrace any positive impacts and seek the support of a therapist or counselor to help deal with any negative impacts.

Additional resource: Brigham Young University

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