Relationships and Chronic Pain

Hello all,
Can you point me to any resources or threads for how chronic pain affects relationships?
I'm having quite a difficult time with my girlfriend and communicating effectively. She feels stagnant in our relationship and doesn't handle my debilitating pain and depression well.
I end up feeling like hiding it from her to save us from argument.
Any thoughts?



  • Travis, there is one currently ongoing named Social support-0 nada. You could probably search social support. Would you be able to get some counseling help or attend a Behavioral Pain Management class? I did that this year and they went into communication skills. One of the main things I came away with from that part was that we have to talk to one another and be able to (at least try) to communicate how our pain effects our lives. The people around us will never be able to fully understand what it's like to live with chronic pain and I know I tend to withdraw when it gets unbearable. My husband understood this but I had to assure him it wasn't anything he did or didn't do. Someone needs to write a book! Maybe there is one, you could Google that too and I'm guessing you will get some responses here. 


  • My wife and I have very open communication concerning my pain and how it affects me. I have a depressive personality and she knows when I try to hide my pain from her. So she calls me out on it. She makes me explain to her how I am feeling. It feels good to get off my chest how I am feeling. Then we both know where we stand together. Just saying. It works for us. 


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  • these issues are very need to know and handle the other one's mood. it's hard to explain, but it has to be spoken, or forget about it...the relationship shatters.

  • The link below may be helpful

    depression and chronic pain 

  • Thank you all for the comments. I'll check those things out.

    My problem is that when I am honest about how shitty I feel, it sends her into a spiral and brings up the trajectory of our relationship and seems to compound the problems. I then have to manage how she feels on top of already struggling and being depressed.

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  • If you have to manage how she feels about YOUR pain.... That sounds like she is a bit selfish. No offense meant. I guess it is human nature to lash out if we don't get what we want all the time. Or maybe she feels so bad that you hurt that she can't deal with it, and she gets angry for being helpless to ease your suffering.Feeling helpless can affect our partners negatively sometimes. It all depends on a person's personality in how they react I guess. I hope everything works out for you with your relationship. 


  • Hi Travis,

    Even in the best of marriages, chronic pain can cause issues.  You can have the best husband or wife in the world but honestly if they do not feel the pain themselves then they can never truly understand how much pain can change a life. 

    A chronic pain patient has the tendency to say how they feel each and everyday.  As a chronic pain patient myself I can honestly say I am not complaining but trying to let my wife know how I am feeling.  If I can not go grocery shopping or help with the housework it makes me feel so utterly useless as a partner and less than equal in my marriage. 

    Finally our spouses hear the same message from us each day---"I don't feel good, I am really hurting".  After a while our message just gets tuned out. 

    When a spouse hears the same thing day in and day out....then they become bitter as they have to carry the burden of doing so much more than they ever had to do before.   It is the rare spouse who can feel empathy and support the one they love without bitterness and despair taking over their lives. 

    You may ask then--"how can I hold my marriage together when I feel like my life is not worth living?"   I have found that if I push through my pain as much as is humanly possible and do everything I can to help my spouse with the marital responsibilities, I gain respect in the eyes of my partner.  I wish I had a better  way to make things work but this is what works for me.  There is absolutely nothing about marriage or life that is easy. 

    God bless


  • "Ok...OK! Iknow your hurting but do you have to say it everytime? 

    Isnt there one day you dont have to say that! Ime tired of hearing that..always the same..why dont you go to the doctor and get a surgery or pills. Are you trying to make feel guilty for you, bad for you? Because ive got my own pain and suffering and cant handle both of us right bad can it be?"

    Quoted and condensed from my last partner

    You know what.? It was easier to shut up and not say anything and watch as they got obsequious and pretended to care, to have  sympathy and some couth. 

    I am an excellent communicator 

    I can tell you straight up and hurt the feels

    I can beat the bush 

    Being brutally honest isnt easy on anyone. I hurt, i want to share it its what you do to take some pressure off...

    But some people cant express sympathy because they are bad communicators, don't want to expend sympathy,energy for whatever reason.

    Helplessness can be overwhelming to those without nature or nurture to fall back on. They cant fix what hurts,it frightens them,it hurts them ...empathetically..that cry for help..they cant reach out to protect and "fix" what is wrong

    Enough of that and they start building walls of self preservation to naturally and as a matter of course to protect the psyche..and so we begin to sense that..our lifeline being pulled back..too many in the lifeboat, sorry,maybe next a causal loop may begin

    We reach

    They pull back

    We get scared and reach more

    They cant or dont want the psychological-emotional pressure on them

    Its not always their fault, it may be biology,past negative experience that frightens them enough to back away

    Or they may just be a horses posterior.

    Open and honest communication is one key, this deepness may frighten off some because of vulnerability seen as a liability. "Now i owe you" my honesty

    Or in my case..just a really shallow and superficial person hidden behind the mask of a nice person.

    Learning to ooen the lines, and leeping them open is an art in itself.

    I hope your lines stay open and that hands reaching out are held in reaching back

  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 300

    Travis, several of us have posted comments under the section Joanne identified. As others have said, this is a topic that does not get the attention it deserves but thankfully we have this forum to help us.

  • Thanks, everyone.

    Sometimes it seems like she may be a little selfish, but we started our relationship with me in pain, and it's not a normal or easy situation. We've decided the best thing to do at this point is to try a counselor and see if they can help us communicate and provide some empathy and perspective for both of us.

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,165


    I am so glad the two f you are going to counseling. I see a pain psychologist and sometimes my husband goes with me when he just doesn't know what to do anymore. I keep telling him, it's me, not him.

    Good luck and please let us know.

  • Ugh. Well, we went to one therapy session on January 1st, and it was clear we needed a break. She kept saying she couldn't handle the situation and didn't want to "sign up for this." (Even though we had dated for 9 months, and she was well aware of my problem.)
    It's pretty disheartening given how hard I tried to minimize the impacts of my problem on her. It's also really hard to be told repeatedly to think about how my life-deranging problem is affecting her... of course I thought about that a lot, which is why I tried to find ways to minimize it.
    I'm just hurt and frustrated. She wanted to date other people so her, "needs could be met." That was enough for me to say we just need to go our separate ways. I'm not sure if we can remain friends or not as, right now, I'm not happy with how she handled things.

  • Travis it sounds very much like you will be better off, as hard as the last few, and next few days, may be.    For what it’s worth, The advice Dale gave works very well for me too - I just try my hardest to proactively do my husbandly part, with love and a smile. If I can’t finish something I tell her why and she usually doesn’t jump and do it herself .   Best of luck and let us know how you are

  • Joel, thanks for the comment.
    I know she wants to talk about things and wants to be friends.
    I don't know if I'm up for that. I feel pretty hurt and a little resentful, even though I know it's not even close to an ideal relationship.
    I just can't help but think it's rather selfish to put extra pressure on a person who is already suffering so much by telling them they need to consider the impacts their suffering has on others... I imagine I would handle the situation differently, but I've never quite been in that situation, so who knows.

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