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Reader Newly in Love With Someone With Chronic Daily Headache Seeks Advice

A woman who has fallen in love with a man who has chronic daily headache has posted a comment asking for input on whether it is wise to stay in the relationship. Although I indulge in Dear Prudence during migraine attacks, I’m not an advice columnist myself. I’ll share my thoughts and would love for you to weigh, as I think anyone whose had a relationship and a headache disorder could provide a valuable perspective.

She wrote:

“I am divorced. I have met a wonderful man whom I love. However, he has had a headache non stop for 25 years. He has maintained a successful career and still works but has debilitating headache periods. I only know he feels bad when he tells me. But I’m starting to realize he feels bad all the time. I don’t understand how he’s not crazy. In other words it does not impaire [sic] dating. He says he feels better when relaxed. Tense work makes headaches worse. He’s been to the best headache clinics. We’ve been dating 5 months and got serious about a month ago. But I stress enormously about whether I have just fallen in love with someone that is disabled or will be. He’s just ideal for me except for the headache. I cannot imagine stopping dating when we are having such a good time. But I feel like I am taking on a disability that could leave me in a bad marriage and I want a good marriage.”

My immediate thought is that part of what she loves about this man is probably a direct result of who he has become because of his headache disorder. After all, we’re known for being brave and tenacious. Maybe his his chronic headache is as much an asset as a liability.

Just because one person has a physical disability doesn’t mean a marriage will be bad. It is undeniably something to deal with, but every person and every relationship has difficulties. It is fortunate that this one is known ahead of time.

This man appears to function quite well with his headaches and there’s no indication his condition is worsening. There’s also no guarantee they won’t worsen, nor is there a guarantee that the woman asking for advice won’t be diagnosed with a debilitating disease or disabled in a car accident.

Life is uncertain and you can only know so many variables going into a major decision. You can decide what you want out of a relationship and weigh all the factors you know and still be surprised, pleasantly or otherwise.

I write all this knowing that I was married before my migraine attacks became severely debilitating. It has caused an enormous strain on my relationship. My husband and I love each other very much and are committed to being together, but there’s no denying I’m not the energetic woman he married, nor am I the equal partner we both expected. Still, he tells me that he’d rather be with me sick than not be with me at all.

That may be the real question this advice seeker should ask herself: Would she rather be with this man even though he is sick than not with him at all?

Readers, you have loads of experience with this issue. What’s your advice?

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It’s the Little Things, Like Folded Underwear

Seeing an oddly shaped stack of my clean, folded underwear brought tears to my eyes. It was a visual reminder of how kind my husband is. After working on TheraSpecs tasks all day on a Sunday, he’d done the dishes and folded the laundry that was decorating our family room. (Chores are normally my task since he’s crazy busy starting two businesses, but things pile up when I’m in a bad migraine spell.) And the guy FOLDED MY UNDERWEAR.

Not to bore you with the details of my undies, but you need a little background to understand why this is so great. For the first 13 years we lived together, I crumpled my underwear and threw it into a drawer. Then Hart’s mom did laundry for us once and folded them, thus introducing me to the wonders of folded underwear (they take up so little space in the drawer! and are so easy to find!). I never told Hart that I’d adopted a new practice and, until this week, when he’s folded laundry, he’s tossed it in a rumpled pile like always.

When I went to grab some underwear off the table, I saw two stacks. One I had folded and another folded, but slightly disheveled stack, which was Hart’s handiwork. It was so sweet I thought my heart would melt. He did his best to fold them, but each pair wound up in a strange, lumpy sort of shape. Because really, folding women’s underwear is not an intuitive thing, especially if you’ve never even worn them. But he tried and I never even asked him to.

People often ask how I manage to cope with such debilitating migraines. Having an incredible husband who does the little things is a huge help. I’d hate to be this mired in migraine without him.