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    Thriving as a Team: Unity & Partnership When Navigating Relationships with Chronic Pain

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    Building a healthy relationship despite chronic pain is a complex dance, one that requires grace, patience, and of course love. Whether it’s you or your partner who’s in this continuous battle, the experience affects your relationship. But here’s what I’ve learned—both from personal experience and from others walking this path: it’s not just about managing pain, it’s about managing understanding, and support in ways that make your love and relationship stronger.

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    Understanding & Empathy: The Foundation

    The journey to a healthy relationship with chronic pain starts with understanding and empathy. When one half of a partnership struggles with a difficult health condition, it causes more than physical discomfort. It takes an emotional and mental toll on both members of the relationship. Chronic pain can influence mood, plans, and even dreams for the future. Acknowledging this shared impact is the first step toward navigating it together.

    Communication Is Crucial

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    Not in a relationship right now? Check out these pro tips on dating with chronic pain & invisible disabilities.

    Communication is the most important thing when trying to develop a healthy relationship with chronic pain. It’s not always easy to articulate how you’re feeling, especially on days when the pain seems unbearable. But finding ways to share thoughts, fears, and needs openly makes all the difference. It’s about creating a safe space where vulnerability is met with kindness, not judgment.

    Equality vs Equity

    For me, it’s hard to get past wanting to have a relationship with chronic pain that’s somehow still equal. But that’s just not realistic, for me and for many others. Like it or not (I do not), there are things I just can’t do and things that my partner and I both know will cause a flare-up.

    Your partner may do more chores, walk the dog more or work longer hours. But here’s the thing: you may not be able to have an equal relationship despite chronic pain, but you can have an equitable one. What’s that mean? Whatever you want! That’s why communication is so important: every couple is different, as are their needs. It’s crucial to build a relationship despite chronic pain where both partners feel good about the decisions they make and the direction they’re going. The actual balance of work is less important than how you both feel about it.

    Self-Care: You Can’t Love Another Until You Love Yourself

    Self-care is crucial. It might sound cliché, but taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for a relationship. It means giving yourself permission to rest, pursue hobbies, and to maintain your own identity outside of the relationship. You don’t have to like the same exact books, movies and TV shows as your partner!

    The best thing is, it’s reciprocal—encouraging my partner to pursue the things I can’t do has enriched our lives individually and as a couple. Again, communication is key! But there are things I just can’t do, and it makes me happy that he’s not missing out on them because he’s choosing to be with me.

    You may not be able to have an equal relationship with chronic pain, but you can have an equitable one. What’s that mean? Whatever you decide! The actual balance of work is less important than how you both feel about it.

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    Check out these great self care quotes or this post about self care for introverts!

    Tackling Daily Life Together

    Dealing with the practicalities of daily life requires teamwork. Relationships with chronic pain have to be flexible, adapting roles and responsibilities based on pain levels (and spoons!). As the “well” partner in a relationship with chronic pain, it’s all about being patient and understanding, whether that means stepping up when your partner can’t or stepping back to give them space to manage their pain in their own way. 

    If you find yourself needing help to keep the spark alive, find new ways to be close. Whether it’s through thoughtful gestures, deep conversations, or simply enjoying each other’s company, you know your partner best. Prioritizing activities and hobbies that both partners can enjoy together can also strengthen your bond.

    Navigating Chronic Pain As A Team

    Chronic pain may test a relationship, but it also offers opportunities to deepen understanding, communication, and love. Most importantly, living with chronic pain doesn’t have to overshadow your relationship. Chronic pain may be part of your life and your relationship, but it’s not the entirety of it. By embracing both the challenges and the triumphs, and with empathy, open communication, and a commitment to each other, you can find your way to a healthy relationship with chronic pain. Learning to navigate the challenges together can even make your partnership stronger.

    Take a pin so you remember this post is here!

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    Then check out these related articles on dating with chronic pain & invisible disabilities, a great guest post on family planning when genetic disorders are in play, and a collection of inspiring (but not sappy) quotes about self care for chronic pain & invisible illness!

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  • Top 10 Inspirational Quotes About Chronic Pain & Joy to Motivate You Through the New Year & Beyond

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    Inspirational quotes about chronic pain that actually resonate with what we’re going through can be hard as hell to find. Living with constant pain or chronic illness is a tough slog, rougher than “able-bodied” people can ever know. Finding the joy in a life filled with pain is more difficult for us, but it’s also more important.

    That’s why for the new year I put together my top 10 favorite inspirational quotes about chronic pain and joy. I find value, comfort and motivation in these wise sayings about the change, growth, and happiness in life. And those of us with chronic pain need to seek out the joy however we can.

    Yes, we’re in pain, yes, it changed the foundation of our lives, and yes, it can be boring as hell. That doesn’t mean there isn’t joy and fulfillment out there too! But you have to get your head in the right place to find it, and you have to do the work.

    Janet Jay

    All we get is one life. We may not get to choose our bodies and how they break down on us, but we can make the best of what we have, strive to be more than we are, and appreciate the glimmers of joy every day.

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  • Gifts for People With ADHD: Hugely Helpful Last Minute Life Hacks

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    Gifts for people with ADHD can be hard to figure out! So consider items that can truly make a difference in their day-to-day lives. Living with ADHD often means coping with forgetfulness, limited focus, time blindness, and organizational challenges on a daily basis. Thoughtful items like these can incredibly useful for managing this condition by improving productivity, managing symptoms, and restoring a sense of control. Whether it’s morning wake up lamps, noise-cancelling headphones, or magnetic frame hangers that let you change the look of your walls on a whim, these “life hack” gifts can assist with time management, memory, attention regulation, and reducing distractions along with helping establish the routines, reminders, and focus ADHD brains need.

    The actual presents for your loved ones with ADHD are important, but more important by far is the care and consideration that you show in choosing them. They show that you listen when your loved one describes their challenges and that you truly care about helping.

    (And there’s still time to buy them before the holidays!!!)

    The actual presents for your loved ones with ADHD are important, but more important by far is the care and consideration that you show in choosing them. They show that you listen when your loved one describes their challenges and that you truly care about helping.

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  • Surprise friends w/ The Most Useful Gifts For People With Fibromyalgia This Holiday Season

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    Gifts for people with fibromyalgia aren’t hard to come up with: you just have to put yourself in their shoes. (Hopefully, cute ones.) Though fibro is an invisible disability, that doesn’t make its effects, like chronic widespread pain, fatigue, sleep issues, and sensitivity to movement and environmental stimuli, any less real. 

    If you had those limitations, what day-to-day tasks might be challenging to get through or what self-care strategies might help? Think about the particular person you’re shopping for: what do they struggle with, and how could you help?

    A well-thought-out gift shows care and compassion for your loved one and their limitations. But above all, useful gadgets and relaxation-promoting treats given as gifts for people with fibromyalgia help remind them of the greatest present of all: that you listen and that you care.

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    Quotes About Self Care (& Self Care Quotes About Invisible Illness)

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    Quotes about self-care, especially self-care quotes about invisible illness, are hard to come by. Well, good ones at least– you can find sappy schlock everywhere. But there are also gems, little bits of wisdom that remind me to take time for myself, helping me through the chronic pain of my invisible illnesses. Click one in the gallery below or scroll down to read a few of my favorites: where they come from, why I chose them, and what they mean to me.

    All amazon links are affiliate links, because why not? But if you have a small local bookstore, I’d much rather you buy stuff there.

    • "your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts,", janetjay.com, with a line drawing of a man sitting against a wall, curled up, with a blank speech bubble
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  • New Generations, Old Genes: A Guide to Family Planning with Genetic Disorders

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    Before starting a family, make sure you understand your genetic situation and how it can affect pregnancy and your prospective child.

    Family planning can be an exciting and emotional time for any couple. However, if you have a genetic disorder, finding your soulmate isn’t enough: there are other questions to consider. From talking to your doctor about the risks of having a child to considering alternative options such as adoption or embryo screening, navigating family planning with genetic disorders can feel overwhelming. In this guest post, Melissa Howard from StopSuicide.info explores some important steps to help you make informed decisions.

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    Best Inspiring Quotes About Invisible Illness

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    Quotes about invisible illness are too often filled with sappy, inspirational cliches, IMO. But that doesn’t change the need that people with chronic pain and invisible disabilities have for guidance, understanding and truth.

    Quotes about invisible illness– why exactly? Because it’s invisible.

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    Questions about invisible disabilities? Check out this piece on Disability Pride Month!

    August is Pain Awareness Month, so I wanted to bring attention to the conditions that nobody can see. Starting in my teens I experienced chronic pain seemingly without any cause or explanation, and although I looked completely “normal” it changed every aspect of my existence. In the two decades since I’ve managed to build a life and become a person I’m proud of. During that struggle, I’ve collected a few quotes about invisible illness (and pain, hope, and joy) that really speak to me.

    Some of these quotes are from people who experience(d) invisible, chronic pain, like Anne Reeve Aldrich and Elizabeth Taylor. (And check out my profile on Selma Blair for another chronic illness badass!) Others, like the quotes from Dostoyevsky, Kahlil Gibran, and the Greek stoic Seneca illustrate the wisdom that can come from the loneliness, suffering and struggle our medical conditions (and their consequences) cause. Finally, there’s hope, which is absolutely vital for anyone with health struggles… or struggles in general. Check out the quotes from Joseph Campbell, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Frederick Buechner and Barbara De Angelis for meditations on how to keep hope alive.

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    Chronic pain & trouble sleeping: a sleep routine may be your cure for insomnia

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    Want to develop better sleep hygiene habits? For a limited time you can download 3 sleep routine printables for FREE to help you figure out the best strategies to get you snoozing.

    A sleep routine (aka “sleep hygiene): if you have chronic pain, anxiety, ADHD and insomnia (or any combo thereof), like I do, this simple process might just be the “cure” for insomnia you’ve been seeking. “Sleep hygiene” is the process of creating an environment that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are a few things that might be keeping you up, especially if you have chronic pain or mental health issues, and some strategies you can use to combat them. (Including a pack of free bedtime routine printables!)

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Hopefully this site will help you avoid some of the BS I’ve experienced over the last 20 years seeking treatment for my chronic pain, invisible illnesses & mental health challenges. Maybe it’ll even help you think about disability in a new way! But at the very least, I hope you learn something, and I hope it helps you feel less alone.

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