Balancing any relationship is always a challenging task and when one of the partners is suffering from migraine, this challenge is further convoluted. The key here lies in understanding the gravity of migraine headaches and empathising with your loved one to make their difficult journey manageable.

Understanding migraine –

To a layman, migraine looks like a bout of painful headache but in true sense it is beyond ‘just a headache’. Migraine is a multifaceted disorder affected by hormones, environment, stress, diet, sleep1. It is one of the main causes of disability worldwide which affects females more than men (a 2.5–6.5 higher frequency)2. A migraineur not only endures frequent painful headaches but also lives with a diminished quality of life, the shame of suffering from an invisible disorder, and in constant fear of a migraine attack.

Symptoms of migraine –

Migraine headaches are often experienced on one side of the head, usually temples, which is throbbing and pounding in nature. The headache attack is normally accompanied with nausea and vomiting, photophobia (sensitivity to light) and phonophobia (sensitivity to smell)1.

Triggers of migraine –

Each individual has their own unique trigger that can set off a migraine attack. This can be something as simple as a perfume smell to something complex such as hormonal change or weather.

Read our blog article Triggers of Migraine for more details.

Discussing your condition with spouse –

Many migraineurs have to struggle with an unsupportive partner during their migraine attack. This is because many spouses may not consider a “headache” to be this serious. This may lead to a build up of anger and frustration which can strain an otherwise beautiful relationship.

Educating your partner about your condition means half the battle is won. Your partner should be acquainted with what you are about to face during a migraine attack. When there is clarity about the condition, offering a comforting support becomes easy.

Providing support to your partner –

Migraine is difficult to understand. Even decades after establishing this disorder, scientists are still looking for answers that will unravel the true perplexity of this disorder. In such a scenario, it would also be difficult for your partner to communicate their pain to you correctly.

You can do the following things to make your partner feel comfortable and comforted –

  1. Don’t consider migraine to be a simple headache. Understand that it is a serious painful condition and lend a helpful hand to your partner.
  2. It is possible that you will miss many social functions and gathering due to your partner’s migraine attack or the fear of migraine striking anytime. Never make your partner feel guilty about you missing the event because of them. Bonding and nourishing a relationship can never occur if you keep blaming your partner’s weak point.
  3. Speaking about weak point, encourage your partner to be more vocal about their condition with other family members and friends. They should always feel accepted and not left out within the circle of loved ones.
  4. Take appropriate precautions while travelling such as wearing proper clothing, staying hydrated and avoiding known triggers.
  5. Do not let your freedom get affected by their condition. Let your partner know that their migraine is not hampering your hobbies or pursuits.

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 Supporting your partner during a migraine attack

This is the most challenging part and your role here is crucial.  When migraine attacks, the pain is so harrowing that your partner may not be able to even speak about the pain. In such a case, you can –

  1. Take over their responsibilities. When your partner knows the house and children are being taken care of, there will be one less thing for them to worry.
  2. Keep the medicines handy and make the room as comfortable as possible. Avoid all sources of noise and light from the room so that a serene atmosphere will help them overcome the pain faster.
  3. Do not ask questions or try and divert their mind by talking. An undisturbed environment is all that a migraineur needs.
  4. Make your partner feel loved and realise that you are present with your full support. Your tone should not make them feel you are exasperated or losing patience with their condition.
  5. Even after the attack has worn off and your partner feels good; allow them to take rest as much as possible.

Every relationship is different and so is a migraine sufferer. When both come together, balancing the bond can get difficult. Patience, understanding, support, care and comfort from a loved one can be as effective as medicine for a migraineur.

Share with us if there is any special way you make your partner with migraine feel comfortable.

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  1. J Headache Pain. 2017; 18(1): 37.