Married couple posing together. The man is smiling while the woman is looking skeptical holding up a brain representing her migraine in-between her and her new husband

Migraine: The Third Wheel In My Marriage

I was an only child until my little sister came along. After she was born, I quickly discovered that younger sisters are super talented at being third wheels. With her cute voice and big approval-seeking eyes, she pleaded to play Star Wars with me and my BFF. Then later, she’d ask to hitch a ride to see the latest Star Wars movie with me and my BF. When I got married she abandoned her post, but that’s when another third wheel joined in—my migraines.

Not the wedding present I wanted

I should be accustomed to always checking in with an extra party, but the third wheel of my youth and this one that’s entered my marriage are vastly different. One used to yammer on about eating pizza and wanting to wear my new t-shirt, while this newer hanger-on makes it impossible for me to wear new my t-shirt because I might throw up the pizza I just ate on it. Migraines aren’t a fun addition to my marital relationship. I assumed my husband and I would just get a dog.

What are we doing tonight?

This third wheel is intense and there are days (a lot of them) it interferes with the ease of my marriage. It would be super simple to just pick up and go on our nights out, but first I must check in with my head. I need to know if I’m ready for a night out or a night in--in my bed. My migraines tell me if I can handle dates, late-night Backgammon playing (no that’s not a euphemism), or even a simple romantic walk around the block.

“Are you alright?” my husband asks me on our date.

“Yes...just checking in."

A barrier to connection

This third wheel is like an annoying houseguest who has overstayed their welcome. I can be feeling great and then all of a sudden my superfluous “friend” reminds me that I’m not alone. My thoughts lead me down a distracted path, and I start checking in with my body to manage pain levels or prepare for possible triggers. So even when I’m spending time with my hubby, I’m not really spending time with my hubby.

Living a distracted life is kind of distracting. I miss being able to enjoy our time together. There's always the low hum of a "maybe" migraine in the background. This distraction can be a barrier to the connection my husband and I share--and even my connection to the world in general. But, I’ve begun to realize this distraction only happens when I allow it.

Reclaiming the good days

After years of living with this obtrusive third wheel, I can see that on my pain-free days I must set aside my migraines. I can never turn them off, but I can remember my good days are here to support my bad ones. My head pain makes for an awkward threesome, but it’s a threesome that can be a twosome on those precious migraine-free days. I'm doing my best to try and make it happen -- and get a dog.

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

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