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Migraines, Headaches, and Relationships

How Migraines Affect Sex, Marriage, and Family

Migraines are so common, there's a special name for people who suffer from frequent migraines: migraineurs. Yet, loved ones don't always understand the migraineur's condition, and even if they do, serious headaches can be highly disruptive to family time and marriages.

Migraine Pain and Children

Children are sensitive to a parent's medical condition. They may believe they caused it. You can put that fear to rest by telling children about migraines in advance. Try a statement like this: "Mommy has a sensitive nervous system and has to be careful not to overtax herself." If you feel a migraine attack coming on, you might say: "I'm afraid I'm going to be having a migraine. I am going to take my medicine and rest, but I will be better in a bit." Remain positive and emphasize that you will feel better soon.

It may seem strange, but migraine headaches occur more frequently around holidays and other family celebrations. This may make you feel guilty, perhaps precipitating an attack. "You have to scale back," says Kathleen Lake, PsyD, a psychologist who treats migraine patients. "Expectations are so high for migraineurs around family celebrations."

Migraine Pain and Intimacy

When a migraine is about to hit or is already in full swing, migraineurs may not be able to attend to family chores such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Spouses have to pick up the slack, which often causes resentment. A recent survey found that 74% of sufferers have to cancel plans because of migraine pain and 68% say it disrupts their sex life.

Migraine pain often occurs at predictable times, often before or during a woman's menstrual cycle or when the weather changes. If yours are triggered by your period or the weather, plan ahead; make dinners in advance and microwave them, or use prepared dinners if you have a headache. Let your spouse know that you may need down time, so he may have to take on other family responsibilities, such as picking up the kids from school.

Sex is also a sensitive subject for couples where one suffers migraine headaches. Some migraineurs don't like to be touched when they are having an attack. Tell your spouse that "not tonight" doesn't mean "not ever." It's only temporary. Talking about this in advance can help prevent hurt feelings.

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