Caregivers Pay a Steep Price
Chronic pain caregivers pay a steep price. Loving someone with chronic pain is a difficult and lonely job. Let’s face it, the scales will never be in balance. You will always give so much more than you will ever get in return. It takes a great deal of integrity to remain faithful to and supportive of someone who is always in pain and won’t really ever get better. Honestly, I’m surprised that more patients don’t find themselves abandoned by their partners.
Recently I had the privilege of discussing this issue with a lovely group of women — both patients and caregivers. It was a raw, honest discussion about the realities of married life when one partner has chronic pain. It’s as though there is a third person constantly trying to undermine the relationship. Pain cancels date nights, kills the sex drive, and sucks up all the financial and emotional resources. If left unchecked, it can completely destroy any semblance of a relationship. Successful couples learn ways to work around that pain, finding creative solutions and occasionally putting themselves first even if it means pushing through the pain or paying the price later.
That pain cannot be ignored either. If the needs of the relationship always take priority, then pain has a way of spreading its impact. If your partner has chronic pain, then you are always going to be in a polygamous relationship. That third “person” is unreasonably demanding and cannot be ignored. It will take your partner away from you. You will feel unloved, alone, and cheated on. Not dealing with those emotions or taking them out on your sick partner will only compound the problem. Unlike you, pain cannot ever leave your partner, even when he or she might desperately wish for its departure. The key is learning how to make peace with it.
The most successful relationships are those in which both partners work together to appease and minimize the impact pain has on the relationship as a whole. It is a delicate balance that requires a level of commitment not often found in today’s intimate relationships. If your partner suffers from chronic pain and you are committed to sticking around, then you have my respect and gratitude. You are a rare treasure.
This article is part of the July 2016 Ultimate Blog Challenge