relationship difficulties

JR
New Contributor

relationship difficulties

Hi,

I am new to this community. My husband of 31 years  is currently battling terminal cancer, and has been told he has only months to live. He was first diagnosed with colon cancer three years ago, and since then his cancer as spread to other major organs.  Throughout this journey, I have felt repeatedly pushed aside. He has attended his appointments by himself, and even his chemo. I have offered and want to be there but he has pushed me away. As this journey has progressed he has become more withdrawn, especially lately. He rarely tells me anyone that he loves me, he rarely shows any interest in me sexually, and doesn't seem to care about me at all. On his good days, he uses his energy to engage in  his hobbies (outdoor)  but never wants to spend time with me. He complains to me constantly about his pain etc, which I get as he has to talk to someone. When I try to express my feelings to him, he dismisses them and has no interest in hearing what I have to say, and his frequent phrase is "I'm the one with cancer".  Last week, he lashed out at me with anger and was pretty verbal which is completely out of character for him. My heart is breaking, as it is bad enough to lose your soulmate to cancer, but then to feel that they no longer love you is heartbreaking. I guess when I think of how I would respond, to me I would want the last days of my life surrounded by and spending time with the people I  love. It is so painful that he doesn't want that. Has anyone else experienced something similar and how did you deal with it?

7 REPLIES 7
Regular Contributor

Re: relationship difficulties

Hi JR,

 It sounds like your husband is feeling very sorry for himself & taking it out on you.   Or, he might think he'll be protecting you from the hurt if he pushes you away.   Then again, from what I've read from other caregivers, it could be a side effect of the chemo he is on.  If that's the case, he may not realise just how badly he is treating you.  Whatever the reason for his behaviour, it should be stopped.   Maybe he will need a threat of  you leaving him to jolt him out of his abusive ways.  Would he be open to counseling?   I'm sorry I can't help you JR.  It's a horrible situation to be in.

 

Budgie 

 

 

 

Occasional Contributor

Re: relationship difficulties

I'm so sorry you are going through this at such a difficult time. I would really only suggest having a heart to heart with him and maybe asking why he is doing it?  Sorry to hear about his diagnosis. 

VM
Occasional Contributor

Re: relationship difficulties

As I read it my first thoughts are that this is unusal behaviour for him. You also state he is your soul mate, so there is a depth of relationship here many of us don't experience. I feel that he is in his best way, excluding you because he thinks this is protecting you....preparing you for when/if he dies. I also feel that this has been such a huge blow to his sense of being and control that he has folded in on himself. It is as though by not exerting energy on you he is gaining energy to fight this on his own. It sounds like an immensely personal fight for him.

 

I don't believe there any shoulds in this situation. I do believe that you might want to consider counselling for yourself to start with, to explore self care and strategies to help yourself at this time. Along the way you may find ways of helping him. While he battles within he won't have the sight or desire to look outside and all you can do is walk alongside of him. Things may change later. Firstly though...look to your self care...not as a selfish act but as a supportive act for yourself and your husband xxx

Super Contributor

Re: relationship difficulties

Hi JR, unfortunately what you are describing is not uncommon. I belong to a facebook forum ("Caring for husbands with cancer") and quite a few women on it describe that after diagnosis their husband/partner is no longer as emotionally engaged as they were, and can sometimes become abusive. The causes of this are ususally the disease itself, chemotherapy drugs, previous relationship problems becoming heightened, or poor coping mechanisms, although there could be other causes as well. The cause will determine how best to deal with the problem. You would be very welcome to join the facebook forum as well as being here, it is a very supportive and active group of over 1400 women from across the world in a similar situation as you. Sending huge hugs as you go through this. Emily
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Occasional Visitor

Re: relationship difficulties

hi, im going through the same experience with my husband, he was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in june this year, fortunately it had not spread to other organs, the treatment and the fact he has a stoma has really taken its toll on him and also myself.  Its been very exhausting for myself as i work full time and then care for my husband on a daily basis. he has been more grumpier and demanding and has been quite mean towards me lately, i finally blew up which didnt really help and now im feeling bitter and broken, didnt know the chemo etc contributes to some of the emotions he portrays, just feeling un-appreciated and lost with my feelings at the moment


@JR wrote:

Hi,

I am new to this community. My husband of 31 years  is currently battling terminal cancer, and has been told he has only months to live. He was first diagnosed with colon cancer three years ago, and since then his cancer as spread to other major organs.  Throughout this journey, I have felt repeatedly pushed aside. He has attended his appointments by himself, and even his chemo. I have offered and want to be there but he has pushed me away. As this journey has progressed he has become more withdrawn, especially lately. He rarely tells me anyone that he loves me, he rarely shows any interest in me sexually, and doesn't seem to care about me at all. On his good days, he uses his energy to engage in  his hobbies (outdoor)  but never wants to spend time with me. He complains to me constantly about his pain etc, which I get as he has to talk to someone. When I try to express my feelings to him, he dismisses them and has no interest in hearing what I have to say, and his frequent phrase is "I'm the one with cancer".  Last week, he lashed out at me with anger and was pretty verbal which is completely out of character for him. My heart is breaking, as it is bad enough to lose your soulmate to cancer, but then to feel that they no longer love you is heartbreaking. I guess when I think of how I would respond, to me I would want the last days of my life surrounded by and spending time with the people I  love. It is so painful that he doesn't want that. Has anyone else experienced something similar and how did you deal with it?


 

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Occasional Contributor

Re: relationship difficulties

I'm so sorry you are going through this. My husband was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer end of June and had his surger end of July. Thankfully he did not need the colostomy bag but I understand how you feel. My husband just started chemo so he has had one round only, they are only doing the 5fu right now because right after his surgery he started developing some nerve issues. He has good days and bad days, thankfully he doesn't take it out on me but he gets in these moods where he just gets angry and says things like he doesn't want to be here anymore because of all of the medical issues he has going on and this and now this new neuropathy. I never know what to do or say, I get frustrated and I feel guilty when I feel like I just need a break away.  These dianosis definitley change your life.

Occasional Visitor

Re: relationship difficulties

Hi JR,
My heart goes out to you as I read your current experience as it is almost exactly what I'm going through right now too - right down to the detail of your hubby preferring to spend his good days on hobbies in the backyard by himself, rather than spend any time with you. I too can relate to what you wrote about how you would like to spend the last days of my life, spending beautiful quality time with those you love, and I too grieve that this seems not to be what my husband is choosing. 

I echo what some of the others have suggested re. self care. It really helps to have good psychologist and a few trusted, patient friends who can validate what you're feeling: that it is extremely painful and not the way you'd prefer things to be playing out. I still struggle with feelings of sadness and grief (and yes - guilt, when I feel angry at my husband's coldness), thinking that my marriage seems to be crumbling apart before I actually lose my husband to cancer. But having a good counsellor and a few close friends who hear and affirm me has been very very helpful. (My counsellor has recommended other strategies for coping too; she doesn't just listen and say "Oh, that sounds so hard.")

Thank you, JR, for your courage in sharing your current struggle; reading it helped me a lot, discovering that I am not alone in my experience or feelings. In fact I just signed up to this community too, so that I could respond to your post! I truly hope that you are able to find ways to self-care and be affirmed, not only as a carer but as a person. It's a difficult road, but not one that you need to walk alone.

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