3 in the Bed: 5 Ways to Make Room for Migraine in Your Marriage

by Tammy Rome Patient Advocate

I’ve lost count of the number of weekend getaways, date nights, and anniversaries that have been postponed or cancelled because of migraine. Although my husband and I knew I had migraine when we married, we had no idea how much it would affect our lives, especially as a couple. It’s as though we married into a polygamous relationship in which our migraine partner hogs all the attention. Neither one of us like it much but can’t seem to get rid of it either.

We both understand that its presence is not within our control. Migraine isn’t really trying to undermine our marriage, yet jealousy and bitterness creep in when we least expect it. After all, migraine is an irrational and demanding drain on our time, money, and emotional energy. When it strikes, everything else stops until its demands are addressed. To ignore it is impossible.

Here are five ways we've developed to address those demands:1. Accept migraine’s presence.
You can’t divorce migraine. You can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist, either. Both people must acknowledge it as a significant presence in the marriage. The sooner you both admit you are married to migraine, the happier you will all be.

  1. Avoid framing migraine as the enemy.
    Although migraine can be an unreasonable partner, it is not your enemy. Migraine is not actively trying to ruin your marriage. Only you can allow that to happen. By learning to work with migraine as an important member of the marriage will you create a happy relationship.

  2. Include migraine in your plans.
    Migraine needs to be accepted as part of the family. Ignore it at your own peril. You may not think you’ve invited it along, but it will stow away. You may as well pack a bag for it, too.

  3. Create accommodations for migraine.
    Migraine has special needs. Regardless of your plans, always include accommodations for migraine. Sometimes migraine will be polite, allowing you to enjoy your plans without interruption. At other times it will act up, demand attention, and threaten to derail your special event. Know how to respond and have the right tools within easy reach.

  4. Build contingencies into your schedule.
    Do you both know what to do when migraine disrupts your romantic plans? Can you change plans quickly or implement alternatives when necessary? Stay flexible. Have alternatives planned in advance.

I’ve been married to the same wonderful, compassionate man for over 27 years. He also has migraine. The impact of migraine on our marriage is significant. Over the years we have learned how to include migraine as a valuable and important part of our marriage. We talk about it, negotiate with it, and make accommodations for its needs. It is only by making room for migraine that we can keep our relationship healthy. Here are two additional steps we took to include migraine in our lives:

  • We welcomed migraine into the bedroom.
    Ice packs, heating pads, water bottles, and medication are all mainstays of life with migraine. We moved a mini-fridge with a small freezer and a microwave into the bedroom. Next, we cleared out the nightstand drawers and filled them with medications and comfort measures. Now, when migraine demands our attention - even in the middle of the night - we can quickly address its needs without inviting unnecessary drama.

  • We always travel with migraine.
    We don’t forget to pack a full arsenal of treatments and comfort measures. Migraine travels with us and gets its own suitcase. We even plan alternative solo activities for the unaffected partner when migraine demands undivided attention from one of us.

For better or worse, we are both married to migraine. We may as well make the best of it.

Tammy Rome
Meet Our Writer
Tammy Rome

Headache disorders counselor and advocate Tammy Rome maintains a private practice specializing in treating clients with Migraine and other headache disorders. She also volunteers as vice chair of the American Headache and Migraine Association and as president of The Cluster Headache Support Group.