Migraines, Headaches, and Relationships

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on November 12, 2022
3 min read


Migraines are so common, there's a special name for people who get them: migraineur. Yet, loved ones don't always understand the condition, and even if they do, serious headaches can put a strain on time with spouses, family, and at work.

You may not be able to cut migraines out of your life, but you can help others understand how they affect you. That way, everyone will know what to expect and how they can help you.

Kids can tell when parents don’t feel well. It may make them feel sad, scared, or even that they caused it. You can put that fear to rest by talking to your children about your migraines -- when you’re not in the middle of one.

What you tell them can depend on their age and how much information you think they can handle. For younger kids, you can try a statement like this: "Sometimes, my head really hurts, so when that happens I may need quiet time so I can feel better." If you feel a migraine attack coming on, let your kids know that you’re going to take your medicine and rest. Stay positive, and let them know that you will feel better soon.

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. So their partners have to pick up the slack. That can put a strain on relationships. Many times, they need to cancel plans. And for many, the migraines disrupt their sex life.

Even if you can’t prevent your migraines (and there are medicines that can help you do that), you can try to plan for the times when they might happen. Migraine pain often starts at predictable times, like before or during a woman’s period or when the weather changes. If you know your triggers, plan ahead. Make dinners in advance so you can microwave them on the nights you won’t feel like cooking. Let your partner know that you may need down time in the next few days. That leaves time for them to plan to take on other family responsibilities, such as picking up the kids from school.

Sex can also be a tough subject for couples affected by migraines. Some migraineurs don't like to be touched when they are having an attack. Tell your spouse ahead of time what helps and what doesn’t when you’re in the middle of a migraine. And let them know that "not tonight" doesn't mean "not ever." It's only temporary.

More people are aware of migraines today than in years past, so it’s likely that your boss and co-workers will understand the toll they take on you. Being open about your condition with your supervisor can help resolve many issues that could affect your job performance. You could say, "Sometimes I wake up with migraine pain, and I need to treat it before I come to work. I may come in late, but I will make up the lost time. Is that something that will work for you?" Most bosses will understand. On average, migraineurs take about 4 days off from work a year because of migraine pain.

Understand and anticipate the impact migraine pain can have on others in your life. Talk to them about how you feel. This goes a long way to prevent or repair any problems. Clear communication is key.