Spouses and Migraine Disease
If you suffered Migraine before you were married as much as you do now, do you think your spouse would have stuck by your side?
One of the worst and best things a headache specialist/neurologist ever told me was something like this:
“Do you know how incredibly lucky you are that your husband has stuck by your side through all of this? Most marriages could never survive everything yours has withstood.”
It was the best because it reminded me how much my family loves me.
It was the worst because it reminded me that I have put my family through so much, that it becomes not a normal fact, but an astonishing fact that they are still with me. This thought makes me sick to my stomach.
When I was 18 and engaged, I didn’t yet have my diagnosis of Migraine Disease — that wouldn’t come until later. I did have other diagnoses however, including one that was potentially life threatening and disfiguring. I had Lupus.
I actually got my Lupus diagnosis while back in Oregon planning our wedding, and it came from a dermatologist I had visited for odd “spots” that were causing minor scarring. They were spreading across my face and down my chest.
I was horrified. And scared.
I loved my fiance’ enough that I felt the only right thing to do was to release him from his promise to marry me. I couldn’t bear the thought that I would be the one responsible for dragging him into a life where everything was going to be so hard. A life where he lived with the burden of a wife, instead of the gift of a wife was not what I wanted for him or for myself. I didn’t know what else to do, so I called it off.
He wouldn’t let me call it off. I loved him so much that I let him talk me back into it, but not a day goes by that I don’t wonder if he has ever wished himself back. If, knowing what he knows now, he would have married someone else instead of me.
There are days now that I remind him that he had the chance to get out of life with me and didn’t take it. It tends to be our own little private joke (until now anyway!) But there is a sense of seriousness as well.
We have been married nearly 29 years now. It’s sometimes difficult at this point to tell where he leaves off and I begin. On one hand, we drive each other crazy with our differences, but on the other hand we know each other so well and are such good partners in this life, I would be lost without him. It hasn’t always been that way though…
In the beginning he didn’t understand. We fought. We made up. Always, there was the knowledge in the back of my brain that I knew the next time I couldn’t get something done or be somewhere on time we would be fighting about it again. At first we agreed to disagree, but eventually he began to understand what I was living through. It took about 20 years to happen, but it did. We loved each other enough to work it out.
I have many friends with Migraine Disease who have not been as lucky as we have been. I’ve seen marriages dissolve, families become estranged from one another, and relationships fall apart. I’ve seen my partnerless/spouseless friends hurt because they know that it is going to be much more difficult for them to find happiness because of this monster they can’t control.
Being chronically ill makes people selfish. It’s the nature of the beast and I don’t know anyone who is immune to it — myself especially. I forget that my spouse had no idea what he was going to be in for when he married me. I forget that he worries and works so hard because he’s married to a chronically ill wife. On those rare occasions when we truly have a fight, I forget that sometimes he’s lashing out because of the frustration he normally won’t let me see. I am used to being protected that way. If he lashes out at me, I take it personally and have to remind myself that he’s being hurt by my illness too.
I have never asked my spouse if he would have made the same choice then if he knew everything he knows now. I’m not sure I really want to know that answer. Right now, I’m just happy that he loved me enough to stick with me and is strong enough to put up with me 🙂
One thing I did notice is that — because of my Migraine especially — anything related to my chronic illness is a very touchy subject. It’s super easy to set me off because I feel so guilty about everything I have put my family through. Just because I know intellectually that this is hard on him too, doesn’t mean I feel it when he’s getting angry or frustrated over something.
I guess what I’m saying is, relationships are really hard. They take work every hour of every day. I had to learn how to fall in love with my spouse every day when I wake up in the morning. And yes, it is a conscious choice. You know how they say ‘hindsight is 20-20’? It’s true. And the toughest part of that is that you have to make it through the mess to turn around and realize it was worth it in the first place.
Do you have a spouse that has stuck with you through your Migraine Disease? Do you have any encouragement for those that might be going through an especially bad time right now?
You’ve made it through some rough times with your spouse. How does that make you feel? Have you talked to your spouse about it?