When a Partner Is Resentful of Chronic Pain


Chronic pain can put a significant strain on intimate relationships. This is especially true when only one partner has chronic pain. Because chronic pain tends to be invisible, it can be difficult for a significant other who has not experienced it to understand. This lack of understanding — coupled with the potential impact of chronic pain on spouses or partners — can cause feelings of resentment.

Some of this resentment may stem from shifts in responsibilities. An individual with chronic pain may not be able to complete household chores or provide child care as they once did. This imbalance of responsibilities between partners may create resentment. If the person with chronic pain cannot attend social events, causing their partner to either miss social events or attend them alone, this can also breed resentment. Furthermore, a significant other may become resentful of chronic pain if it disrupts sexual intimacy.

However, steps can be taken to help prevent or manage feelings of resentment. These steps include the following:

  • Become educated
    Knowledge is power. When both partners become educated about chronic pain and any related underlying health conditions, it helps prevent resentment.
  • Communicate with clarity
    The partner with chronic pain should express their emotions, pain levels, and needs. Their partner should also express their emotions, which may include feelings of sadness, disappointment or helplessness.
  • Maintain physical intimacy
    Chronic pain does mean that physical intimacy is not possible. Intimate acts just require clear communication and planning to ensure that pain is minimized.
  • Seek professional help
    If feelings of resentment are consistently overwhelming, individual or couples therapy can help. A counselor or therapist can help with processing emotions and developing strategies to cope with resentment and strengthen the relationship.

Additional resources: Integrative Pain Science Institute and

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