Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Migraine & relationships

Migraine and relationships- having “the talk” with your significant other

Before I met my partner of eight-plus years, I hadn’t dated anyone seriously in quite awhile.  Sure, there were a couple of boyfriends in college and some borderline-serious situations with one or two fellows in my early twenties, but when I met Jim, I hadn’t used the term “boyfriend” to describe anyone in years.

Something about him was special right away—in spite of myself, my guard was down within hours of our first real conversation, and I had the distinct feeling that this guy was going to be around for a while*.

Chalk it up to Jim’s killer listening skills, or to my having had one too many beers, or to the fact that my intuition told me this one was a keeper:  in any case, I told this new guy about my migraines the night we first met and talked for hours.

It’s been many years since that first talk, but rest assured we’ve discussed migraine (both of us are migraineurs) probably thousands of times since.  I can’t remember the details of our talk that first night, but I do remember feeling totally validated by his response.


Regardless of what compelled me to open up the conversation, I am so thankful I did.  We were at the very beginning of that frenzied, dopamine-infused infatuation stage, and we talked for hours about our lives, our backgrounds, and…our health.

I can’t remember how I phrased it, but I do recall feeling the need to get my diagnosis out in the open.  I had met this guy on a carefree summer night with friends—I was drinking beers and laughing and having a great time, and I felt compelled to tell him that, while I loved this version of myself, there existed a totally different side of Janet that came out pretty often.  The other Janet had frequent migraine attacks and might have to bow out of engagements at the last minute.  This other, migraine-riddled Janet might be snappy one day and totally fatigued the next.  After letting me talk for awhile, Jim responded by telling me some of his own history with migraine.  You know how people talk about a weight being lifted off their shoulders? That’s the exact sensation I experienced.  I didn’t feel the need to hide my diagnosis from him and pretend I was always fun-loving and healthy, and it turned out he knew just where I was coming from.

During our time together, we’ve both experienced dramatic ups and downs as far as health goes.  Sometimes we’re both doing great, and sometimes we’re both totally down for the count.  There are times when one of us is feeling pretty good and is caretaker for the other, and of course there are times when we’re both okay—not terrible, not wonderful, but just fine.

I’m so grateful to have a partner who is understanding.

For those of you currently in a relationship (or who have ever been in one): what role has migraine played in your story?  Did you talk to your loved one about your diagnosis?  What was that like for you both?

*EDIT: Since this article was originally published, Jim and I have gotten married!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • kmripple
    4 years ago

    I met the man I eventually married a month and a half before my brother died in a car accident, at the car scene. I remember getting on a plane to go back to my family’s home and think “Doesn’t this suck, I think I met someone truly special and now it is over”. I didn’t know my migraines were migraines, doctors and I always thought they were anxiety and panic disorder because of the symptoms I usually had. When I returned home, to a new city I had just moved to and no support, him (and his family) took care of me. We have been married almost 13 years. I think around 2011 my migraines progressed and got so bad they lasted for about two years. As hard as it was for me, I really had to listen to him and acknowledge that although I was in pain, miserable and depressed, he was too. This is a heavy burden to carry, and not only for the migraineur. I think “the talk” might be needed more than once with your partner, and unfortunately not everyone is willing to walk that hard road with their partner. He has chronic health conditions too, and I think that makes us more understanding of each other.
    Here is a funny story. One of the times I was going through a bad spell, my sister and brother-in-law asked us to take one of their children to school on her first day at a new school. My husband, who has type 1 diabetes, was somewhat responsive but just wouldn’t get out of bed. I thought he was just tired and being lazy. When it got so late he really needed to get up and start moving, I realized his sugars were so low he was not making sense. Here we were, in the basement, and I had no sugar to give him. Our 10-year old niece comes over to see why we are taking so long, I am asking her nicely, so as not to freak her out, to bring me honey, soda, anything I can think of to get his sugars up. While I am being nice to her, I am screaming bloody murder at him to try to get through his jumbled mind. I somehow managed to give him sugar and put him in the car (yelling at him super nastily) while trying to be super sweet and gentle with our niece. I am so flustered I realize that I know how to get to a certain point and then have no clue how to get to the school from there. As I am trying to get the information from our niece, and am about to turn back in defeat because I have no clue where I am going (and I am super dizzy and disoriented), the sugar kicked in and he answered my question of where to go from there. We laughed histerically after the incident and still call ourselves “the special needs couple”.

  • MigraineSal
    4 years ago

    C-O-N-G-R-A-T-U-L-A-T-I-O-N-S Janet and Jim . . . what WONDERFUL news, especially for such a loving and supportive couple. You are both very lucky to have found each other. My husband and I have both been through numberous health issues in our time together . . . we will be celebrating the date of our meeting on St Patrick’s day . . . 14 years this year ! There is nothing better than knowing you have the love and support of that special person when you are not at your best . . . especially when it is a fairly regular occurrance . . . that doesn’t mean that you don’t have your frustrations with each other of course but that is all part of the in sickness and in health bit that you buy into when imbarking on a relationship . . . with, or without the I do bit ! I feel so guilty when I have to go meditate mid afternoon on my days off work and quite often not long after our evening meal but luckily my husband understands and entertains himself . . . I do however look after him in every other way and have always been there for him when he is unwell and he regularly says how he wouldn’t want to be without me so hopefully the love I give him is enough to make up for the times when I am out of action.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Thank you so much for these kind words–you posted on my birthday (2/21), so it made the sweet comments all the more meaningful!

    It is amazing and also heartrending to be in love with someone who also has chronic health issues–we understand each other, but it can be tough to see the other in pain.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Taylor
    4 years ago

    Congradulations!!! I read your posts frequently and it seems as if you and Jim have a nice, balanced relationship. It’s all about the give, take, and communication. I love these sorts of articles on migraine.com- it’s important to be conscious of how our sketchy health impacts all of our connections with people, but especially with the partners that deal with us most frequently. My boyfriend has handled the migraine ride like a champ so far, I have high hopes for our future together!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Taylor,

    Thanks for your kind words and for reading my articles over the years–it’s always somewhat of a surprise to hear that people read my writing (even though I look at numbers and realize there are lots of you out there). It’s very humbling and heart-warming to read your compliments.

    I hope your boyfriend and you have a long and happy life together–it is wonderful to hear that he is a supportive partner to you on this migraine journey.

    Take care,
    Janet G.

  • Dee
    4 years ago

    Congrats and blessings to ypu both! I think that its best to be upfront about migraines esp if they happen often. My partner helped me thru some attacks and doctors appointments in our early dating days. However i had less attacks in those days. He is the only person in my life that trully understands and has made an effort to learn about migraine.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Dee,

    Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your story. I am glad you have found a supportive partner in crime. It’s so beautiful but frightening to promise to be with someone when none of us knows what the future has in store, especially if we are already saddled with health problems.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G.

  • Beth
    4 years ago

    My migraines have actually ruined my marriage. He knew about them when we started dating, but every year they get worse, and he doesn’t get it. “You always have a headache.” “You never feel good.” Etc,etc.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh Beth, I’m so sorry to hear this.

    I am no professional, but it sounds like your husband’s reactions to/relationship with the migraines is the big issue here. You don’t deserve to be put down for a health problem you cannot control. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been told otherwise by the person who promised to love and care for you.

    I’m sending you gentle hugs. If you do someday want another partner, I hope he/she is a better and more supportive match for you. You deserve that!

    Take care,
    Janet G.

  • Beth
    4 years ago

    Oh but congratulations on the understanding and the engagement 🙂 many blessings to you both. .I’m just bitter right now bc I’m missing my kids Valentine’s parties at school because of another migraine. *sigh*

  • jdp79
    4 years ago

    Congratulations on finding someone who truly understands you and your engagement. I’ve been through 2 marriages, have 2 children, I’m a single mother struggling to take care of myself and my children. My first ex-husband understands my medical condition much better than the second ex. Both of them new up front about my chronic migraines. I just take it day by day. Sometimes hour by hour. Goodluck to you. Thanks for the article and all of the wonderful support from this group.

    Sincerely, Jackie

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Jackie,

    Thanks for the kind notes. It is definitely one thing to acknowledge that your partner has a medical condition, another thing to have to live with it day by day. Some folks can’t hack it. I’m just grateful that, at least for these first almost-nine years, Jim and I are sticking together. I know a lot of friends and community members who have not been so fortunate.

    I am cheering from the sidelines for you–you sound like such a smart, supportive, and STRONG woman and mother!

    Janet G.

  • Sandy
    4 years ago

    Congratulations. my poor husband did not realize what he was getting into when we got engaged, my migraines were still episodic.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh, I’m sorry to hear that your migraines progressed. How are you feeling these days, and are you still with your husband? (That is, if you don’t mind my asking!)

    -Janet G.

  • Sara
    4 years ago

    My husband knew that I had a rare form of episodic migraine when we got engaged and married. At that point he had helped me through many basilar spells and I almost always emerged 2-3 days later, exhausted, but no worse really for the wear. He has been wonderful since my episodic basilar type migraine became chronic about a year ago now. I wrote about our journey here: http://migraine.com/stories/love-drugs/

  • Poll