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How We Cope with a Flare-Up as a Couple: Part 1

In the first of this two-part series, partners Jessica and Chris explore how endometriosis flare-ups affect them, they ways they handle the pain, and the lessons they’ve learnt along the way.

What is your memory of the first flare-up we experienced together?

Jessica: Ironically, the first flare-up Chris witnessed was my first one in two years and it happened in the first month of our relationship. This was when my endometriosis symptoms began returning. I don’t really remember what happened between that time – I had a relatively painful period that first month and then all I remember after that is excruciating ones. It didn’t seem to be gradual! Chris was thrown in the deep-end.

I think I was both concerned and slightly embarrassed. I was in a new relationship, in the honeymoon phase, and it’s not easy to be snuggled up when your brain is going into overdrive about whether this disease is back. I remember trying to dismiss it and shrug it off, but inside I was worrying.

Chris was really comforting though and took care of me. I can’t actually remember how, but I know he made me feel like it was okay to show I was in pain.

Chris: I remember the first period Jess had while we were together and she told me not to worry about her, and that her periods were mild and pretty painless. I don’t distinctly remember the first endo flare-up because I think she was probably hiding from me how bad it was!

During that early phase of our relationship, I do remember being unclear about endo. I didn’t know how much pain Jess was in, what kind of pain it was, how worried she was about it, etc. Jess was obviously trying to protect me from it or embarrassed to talk about it, but it meant I couldn’t be of as much support as when I had a better understanding of endo.

What do you think works well between you both during a flare-up?

Jessica: Things have changed now because I don’t really get flare-ups, but when I did, Chris would take on pretty much everything. He’d make up the bed all cosy for me, clean the bath and run one, decorate the bathroom with fairy lights and flowers, bring me herbal teas, make dinner, do the washing up – whatever needed to be done he did it.

Obviously, I guess there’s not much I can say here on my behalf. I think it’s probably helpful that I tell you how I’m feeling. I also might be sad or upset with the pain, but I don’t shout or take it out on Chris. I think I’m quite good at seeing those things separately. Though when I’m fatigued, I can definitely be short and irritable.

Chris: Yea I think me doing the heavy lifting when Jess was having a flare-up worked well. It meant that she could relax and focus on reducing the pain. Hearing from her how she’s feeling is also super helpful, rather than guessing or speculating.

I also think it’s important for me as the partner who is feeling well to stay positive and patient and I think we struck that balance well – it was never all doom and gloom!

Coming soon: In the second installment of this two-part series, Jessica and Chris share their tips for coping with a flare-up as a couple.

Read Part 2 here.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.