Communication and collaboration are key ingredients needed when one person in a relationship has chronic pain, according to psychologist Annmarie Cano. She was interviewed by Spirituality and Health magazine to get her thoughts on partnership and pain…..

*What are some of the ways chronic pain can affect couples?

Some couples approach pain as a shared problem or challenge. These are the couples that make the best of the situation. Other couples, however, think of pain as only one partner’s problem. In these cases, one spouse is left to deal with the pain alone, and the situation can definitely put a strain on the individual but also the couple’s relationship.

*What should a partner know or do when their spouse if suffering from chronic pain?

Open communication is key, and so is compassion for each partner’s inner experiences. It’s also important that both partners learn to use pain-management skills (for example, muscle relaxation) so that the partner can confidently assist the person with pain in their pain-coping attempts.

*Can someone “pain-proof” their relationship?

There really is no way of preventing pain or any other stressor from affecting one’s relationship. However, it makes all the difference when people shift their thinking from “My illness means the end of a meaningful life” to “I can live a meaningful life with my illness.” This goes for relationships too. If both partners can approach the pain as something that is part of their lives together, not something that defines their lives together, they can begin to identify and live out their goals.     Spirituality and Health   May/June  2014

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