Fibromyalgia and Marriage:
Helping your spouse understand
Helping your spouse understand your needs will go a long way to making your life easier and less stressful when living with fibromyalgia.
Being sick, I felt like I shouldn’t constantly tell him how I really feel, that he didn’t need to be burdened with it. It’s bad enough that he suffers because he has to do extra around the house and because we aren’t able to do the things we’d like to.
Why should he also have to constantly hear just how bad I feel?
This misconception was corrected for me at my first support group meeting. The theme of that particular evening was “caregivers’ and by the end of the night I was in tears at realizing how wrong I’d been in the way I’d treated the person who loved me enough to take care of me.
How can I possibly expect him to understand what I’m dealing with if I don’t tell him?
Unless I’m lying in bed curled up in a ball he has no idea how bad I feel. Fatigue isn’t visible and neither is pain.
As one husband put it, “you don’t have a pain meter on your forehead”. Sometimes I wish I did, it would be easier than constantly hearing “How are you feeling today?”
The worst part about that question is how we as a society have taken away its meaning. We figure no one really wants to know how we feel so we have the standard answers “fine”, “ok” and the truth is that for most people the question is a formality and they don’t really care.
I realized how stupid that question was when the nurse at the Drs office asked it of me as they lead me to an examination room and I answered “OK”. Then I thought about it “If I was OK I wouldn’t be here!”.
And as for our spouses, how we expect them to know that we aren’t OK if we are constantly telling them we are?
3 Tips for Helping Your Spouse Understand
Step 1: Be Honest with your partner (or caregiver) about how you really feel.
If you are in pain, shout it to the rooftops. If you are feeling fatigued and literally don’t feel you could lift a finger, let them know. Let them know what they need to do for you and what you want them to do for you. It sucks always asking for help but it’s a necessary evil and if you have someone willing to help take care of you, you are very lucky.
Step 2: They have to be able to believe that how you say you feel is how you really feel.
It’s important to always be honest. Don’t hide it some of the time and say you are OK when you aren’t, or allow yourself to fall into the pits of depression so that you end up asking them for more than you really need. Either of these will only lead them to wondering if you really do feel the way you say you do.
Step 3: Make sure you really are doing all that you can do for yourself.
I don’t mean just when it comes to getting your own drink or cleaning the house. I mean doing everything you can to make yourself better. Whether it’s Fibro or something else there are so many treatment options out there and so many things you can do for yourself to make yourself feel better.
If your partner sees that you are out there examining ways to feel better, getting therapies, following Drs orders, etc then it’s easier to believe that you aren’t just giving in to your diagnosis and to the pain.
An understanding partner is the best tool we can have going into any illness or bad situation. Make sure they are there for you as a partner and just being forced to be along for the ride.