Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE Spring 2015, Issue 11 - Page 25

Professional Advice are more open and receptive when they feel understood. Whatever you do, avoid “but,” when you want to raise an issue, as in: “I know you hurt but…” which promptly negates anything that comes before it. 3. Acknowledge that your situations are not the same. This may seem obvious, yet many people get stuck on expectations around “equality” or “fairness.” Practice letting go of thoughts, such as, “I don’t have pain so I shouldn’t complain or my needs don’t matter…” or other unhelpful comparisons. Then, emphasize the ways that you are in this together: “I hate that you hurt.” Or, “It’s sad that traveling is so hard,” being careful to join and not blame. This can open space to support each other, whether grieving losses as a couple, brainstorming creative adaptation, or expressing appreciation for each other. 4. Look to your partner. Let your wife know when you do not know what to do, and enlist her help. It may seem paradoxical to enlist help from someone who is suffering. However, everyone needs to feel valued. People with pain often feel guilty for imposing on others; and well partners can engage in protective buffering. Offering opportunities to support you can benefit you both. When this feels like treading into dangerous territory, practice transparency: “Sometimes I fear telling you how I feel because I don’t want to burden you. Yet if I don’t, I feel really alone in this.” This kind of radical genuineness can decrease defensiveness and increase compassion. 5. Start with “what is.” Help each other grieve and move beyond stories of how life was “supposed to be.” It helps to identify thoughts, such as “I / you should be taking care of more housework, or having sex,” as judgments and not the whole truth. By facing the immediate facts, you can work towards the things you value as a couple. Starting “where you are,” rather than some notion of where you “should” be, allows for both acceptance and creativity. Thus, rather than dismissing intimacy altogether, for example, you might brainstorm about how to be closer in ways that benefit you both. and depression. All the good selfcare advice for individuals with pain applies equ