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Topic: Unsupportive spouse

Forum: Family and Family Planning Matters —

A comforting place to discuss planning a family, fertility concerns, parenting children, or relationship issues with partners, siblings, or parents following a diagnosis.

Posted on: Mar 7, 2019 09:13PM

ShayShay wrote:

I was diagnosing with breast cancer back in October. I had a bilateral mastectomy and now I'm doing chemo. I have been out of work a couple of months and I'm having a hard time getting back in the work field with my bald head and missing eyebrows and lashes. The last thing the medical field wants is a sick nurse. My husband is pushing me to go back to work but he doesn't seem to understand that I have to get hired first... my previous job was a private duty company so no they promised but didn't hold my job. So our bills are piling up fast and savings is diminished and I'm super stressed and depressed at the situation. I've been getting mean looks and the "silent treatment" from my husband for weeks now with the frequent sleeping on the couch treatment as well. I've tried to explain to him what's going on and the response I got was that I'm "INCOMPETENT"!!! Wow!!! That word has been playing in my head since. This is a new low. I was also told that I shouldn't leave the house because I'm not working. So when family or friends try to take me out of the house (including church events) I shouldn't go. 18 years and 3 kids later and this is what he dishes out when I'm down. I have been more than a good wife to him. I have supported him thru all is lows with nothing but love and respect. For him to belittle me and call me incompetent is unacceptable. I'm exhausted. I feel like my life is upside down. I can't talk to family and friends about this because if things get better I don't want them bot to like him.

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Mar 7, 2019 09:53PM Moderators wrote:

Hi there, ShayShay. We are so very sorry to read your post, it just broke our hearts. Breast cancer effects all aspects of your life, and it certainly doesn't end at diagnosis. You've only been dealing with this since October, so it's completely normal that you would still be dealing with the side effects and aftereffects of treatment and all of the mental and emotional turmoil that often comes with a diagnosis. Obviously, a diagnosis effects everyone in a family, but it sounds as though your husband is being unreasonable and unsupportive, just when you need support the most. Your diagnosis is not your fault, and to be treated as though you've done something wrong is, as you said, completely unacceptable.

We're not sure if you've tried talking to your husband about your feelings, but we strongly urge you to find someone you can confide in - a friend, a therapist, someone from your church, or a family member who can help. You're going through a lot right now, and to carry this burden while trying to get through your treatment is a lot for one person. We certainly understand not wanting to turn friends and family against him, should things turn around. But at the same time, you can't go through this alone. You have the support of this community, and we encourage you to use it as a place to vent and get advice from people who know what you're going through!

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Mar 8, 2019 03:33AM blah333 wrote:

That stinks....... there are some grants that help pay bills for cancer patients if you search around.....

While you're home can you try selling things online? That's kind of lame but spring is coming up and you could do "spring cleaning." It probably wouldn't yield too much but at least he would feel like you're doing something? Maybe there is some temp admin work you can do from home?

My suggestions don't mean he's not being an asshole, just maybe something like that could help ease some of the tensions..?

Age 35 at diagnosis Dx 9/2017, DCIS, Left, 6cm+, Stage 0, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 12/1/2017 Mastectomy: Left, Right
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Mar 8, 2019 05:29AM Racy wrote:

I am so sorry you are in this situation. Dealing with cancer is hard enough without the added stress of a heartless spouse. Perhaps there is a professional financial counsellor you could talk to about restructuring your finances.

The marriage does not seem well, unfortunately. I hope you have a trusted mom, sister or counsellor whom you can talk with about this.

Remember, cancer is not your fault and you deserve love and support from the person closest to you.

Please get professional help and check in again here. We all care for you.

Dx 2010, ILC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/22 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 8, 2019 07:54AM santabarbarian wrote:

I'm sorry for what is happening to you. It is outrageous. The silent treatment is cruel and manipulative... It's like being ghosted in the same house. Indeed, it indicates the much sicker person in your house is HIM. I suspect your H has been an awful jerk prior to this, because this kind of behavior does not spring up overnight. "A new low" also seems to indicate this is not the first time he's been awful. He sounds like a narcissist and a control freak who is melting down to have anything deeper asked of him, and who is freaking out because you have had to stop making things easy for him and catering to his needs, even temporarily. It's clearly all about HIM and his comfort-- and he can't reciprocate. With some people, it is never the other person's "turn."

Please do not spend any more energy protecting him, or trying to reduce his irritation. Please confide in someone reliable who you love, who loves you too. It sounds like when the going got tough, he fell apart and showed how weak and selfish he really is... and in my opinion, that is not something that gets better. It just gets placated.

You, however, *will* get better. You will bring in money again. You will get back to your core self, who cares for others. I am afraid he's showing you his core is not strong, and not kind, and not reliable. You don't mention your kids' ages, but if they are out of the house I would seriously consider staying with a family member, so at least I wasn't getting mistreatment on top of chemo/cancer. I'd be tempted to disappear and not say where I went and let him dangle.

If the kids are small, just ignore him back. Pretend he does not exist. He is deliberately trying to HURT you into taking care of him again in your old style. You do not have to participate in that game.

Focus on the people who have your back and love you. I'd say, "I will heal and get better -- but I am afraid you are a lost cause, as there is no medicine for lack of character."

pCR after neoadjuvant chemo w/ integrative practices; Proton rads. Dx 7/13/2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- (FISH) Chemotherapy 8/12/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 12/27/2018 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 2/10/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Mar 8, 2019 08:14AM mara51506 wrote:

I agree with what everyone else is saying. You need a support system. Social workers can help as well as support groups. You dont have time to worry about his status with your family. I do recommend you tell someone in your family. Stress is worse on your body and you dont need it. Please tell others so you can get help.

BTW, it's not recommended to be out in public while undergoing chemo. Focus on yourself. Practice self care by including someone in what you are going through.

After you get through this, you can make major life decisions regarding your marriage. You need to keep his treatment of you in mind when you think about it. You would not want your child treated this poorly. He will not change most likely. Ìf you stay, you both will need therapy. Good luck.

2015 chemos AC plus T Herceptin august 12 2016 craniotomy for brain met Sept 23 whole brain radiation November 2016 Herceptin, Perjeta and Taxol. Dec 2016, Dropped the Taxol due to extreme side effects, continuing Herceptin and Perjeta. Dx 3/15/2015, DCIS, Right, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 4/21/2015 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Right Dx 5/15/2015, IBC, Right, Stage IIIB, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 7/29/2016, IBC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IV, metastasized to brain, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Mar 8, 2019 09:08AM santabarbarian wrote:

PS sometimes we put up with outrageous crap from other people because in early life we got the message that we were supposed to ignore someone else's bad behavior, or try to solve it by being the perfect need-free child.

Cancer, for better or for worse, opens our eyes to people in our lives who basically NEED us to caretake THEM-- permanently!-- without reciprocation. I realized that my parents and my sister (though they are all three kind to me, and I believe *wished* to help me) were quite poor at it. They all got very rattled by me not being the strong one, the "coper," the girl scout, the person who handled things and had no needs!! I was GROOMED to be that person, and they all flipped out somewhat when I was the needy, hurting one and it was my turn to RECEIVE. I am the eldest, and my sis *simply could not* step in to take care of me in the way I was hoping for (her handling things, like figuring our a meal, and me lying around). She just could not step out of her baby sister "she's got this" role. It was surprising but in fact it was a lesson that helped me see my family of origin and myself with more clarity.

Meanwhile, my kids and my friends were STELLAR. People flew across the country to be there for my chemos. When I talked about this with one of my pals, she said, well of course your friends did better-- because you PICKED your friends!

pCR after neoadjuvant chemo w/ integrative practices; Proton rads. Dx 7/13/2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- (FISH) Chemotherapy 8/12/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 12/27/2018 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 2/10/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Mar 8, 2019 04:53PM - edited Mar 8, 2019 04:55PM by ShayShay

Thank you all for your kind and caring words of encouragement. I have tried to be so strong thru all of this and smile regardless to my situation. I am known to be the fixer and the "strong" person that gets stuff done and very rarely ask for help. I think I cried my eyes out for the first time last night. I just let it all go! I am very close to my mother and sister and they do know some of it but not all of it. I don't think things will go over so well at all if they knew he called me incompetent. I have an 18, 16, and 11 year old so it's not like I can pick up and go. Well I could but I would not do that to my kids... it's just not the time. So yes my husband is nowhere near husband of any of the 18 years we've been married and I know he won't be. Santabarbarian pretty much decribed him. He's not all bad and he does have good in him but I definitely see his flaws are taking over our marriage. Our marriage is good as long as things are up and going his way but as soon as something goes left here we are. I am a super mellow person and I'm not easily bothered or freak out when things go wrong or off track... probably why our marriage has lasted this long... but I can't not act like this isn't wrong. I love my husband but I cannot allow him to treat me this way. I do pretty much ignore his behavior and focus on our kids. I'm a super private person but I will look into counseling. My biggest supporter is my mom, she will literally do anything for me and I also have siblings, kids, and friends who brighten my day up daily. I will continue to smile and push thru all the negative. I actually went for chemo today but was not able to get it because my liver enzymes are elevated... so I'm just going to enjoy this week of no awful side effects. Thank you all for caring... you have no idea how I needed your words to lift my spirits! ♡

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Mar 8, 2019 06:57PM edwards750 wrote:

So sorry your husband is being a jerk. What happened to the wedding sickness and in health...or does that apply to everyone else and the words were rehearsed and meaningless?I’m sure he never expected this to happen but neither did you. The reactions of some husbands when it’s their turn to be the caregiver or at the very least a helper is appalling. You nor your kids deserve this. He should be ashamed.

I agree with others I would talk to someone who can help you to deal with your situation. You are between a rock and a hard place. You have so much on your plate. I’m glad you have family support. I know you don’t want to rat him out to your family but there may come a time when either they find out or you tell them. He has to earn your respect. He needs to grow up and be a man, a father and a husband.

Good luck.


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Mar 8, 2019 07:16PM HopeBry wrote:

Wow I feel for you. Marriage is for better or worse. Stress kills and having cancer with stress can kill you. Definitely find support within others that are more positive if your husband doesnt change and realize the effects of his behavior. You didnt ask for this. Look into work from home jobs as well. good luck

Dx 10/25/2018, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol)
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Mar 8, 2019 07:50PM beep7bop wrote:

your life is on a roller coaster right now but so is his. I am waiting for my biopsy results right now. but I have been on the other side twice in the past 6 years with my husbands cancer and his open heart surgery.  He doesn't want to talk about it he never did. wanted to handle everything himself like it was only him going thru this. It's hard to watch someone you love go threw cancer. Sometimes they just want to help but seem like there left out. Sometimes words come out the wrong way!!

Dx 3/11/2019, ILC/IDC, Both breasts, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right
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Mar 9, 2019 07:58PM rachelcarter35 wrote:

Cancer brings it's gifts and although life sounds really hard right now, your husband is showing who he is when things get hard and once you are better and those kids are grown and gone you can decide if you want to share your life with him.

Dx 2/21/2018, DCIS/IDC, Both breasts, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 4/24/2018 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction, Nipple tattoo, Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction, Nipple tattoo, Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 6/14/2018 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Targeted Therapy Chemotherapy
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Mar 10, 2019 06:51AM - edited Mar 10, 2019 07:03AM by DivineMrsM

Shay, sorry for what you're going through. We are here for you, and while you don't need to tell the collective “family and friends" please try to find one trusted person you can confide in. Your husband sounds like a piece of work. Is he the one claiming you should not leave the house? If so, you are being treated like a child. As an adult, you have the right to come and go as you please. If getting out of the house will help lift your spirits, you need to do that.

Your marital relationship is in need of a major overhaul. It's not going to get better overnight. My husband was supportive of me after diagnosis but our relationship has changed in the past 8+ years since that time. I began to recognize how often I minimized my life, my needs and my opinions. I began to realize how often he ignored what I said, but if someone else came along and said the same thing as I did, he placed so much more importance on it. I also recognized that sometimes I would make comments that he didn't listen to, and then within the next day or two make the same comment as I had and act like he'd come up with the thoughts himself. I started calling him out on it all the time. I would say, “I just told you that yesterday (or last week, etc.) I'd allowed myself to take a back seat to his life and prioritize what he thought was important. It seemed like in order for him to feel good about himself, he needed me to be less so he could be more. Gradually, I've learned to speak up for myself. We've really had our go-rounds as I've worked towards having a more balanced relationship but I am standing up for me.

As wives, we do so much for our husbands. It cannot be just a one-way street. Day by day, you need to learn that you are every bit as important as your husband and your kids. And, this sounds counterintuitive to what I just wrote, but try to find time each week to do something positive with your husband. If it's watch a good movie together, take a walk or drive, a short visit with a mutual friend or even a simple ride to the grocery store for snacks. He may not be dealing with your bc diagnosis maturely and is even being mean, but he's still having to deal with the issues on his own level. Try to find a common ground with him while not giving up yourself in the process. And thank him every day for little things. “Thanks for mailing that letter." “Thanks for carrying the laundry basket upstairs.""Thanks for dropping the kids off." It's something my husband and I have learned to do to show each other we notice the positive things the other one does during the day that, even tho they are small things, they add up. My best wishes to you.

found lump 12/22/10~er+/pr+/her2- stage iv bone mets------------- Chemo~lumpectomy~radiation~arimidex------------- March2019/Ibrance-Aromasin---------- Sept2019/Verzenio-Aromasin
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Mar 10, 2019 07:21AM Meow13 wrote:

I think family members can get very stressed over our cancer diagnosis. They may express it as anger toward you. My husband just wanted me to be cured and never think or talk about it again. I come to the boards to vent. I was fortunate never to be sick or unable to work but it did change my life. We just try to move on and live the best we can. Try not to push yourself too hard. Talk to your husband about the financial concerns and maybe there is a solution.

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Mar 11, 2019 04:49AM WC3 wrote:

Only a narcissists would call someone going through chemotherapy incompetent because they are not able to work during it and only an abusive spouse would prohibit their partner from leaving the house.

Is he like this to the kids as well?

Pathologic complete response (pCR) to chemotherapy. Dx 2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 6/1/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 11/15/2018 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Mar 11, 2019 08:36AM DivineMrsM wrote:

Shay, please know that you will gain your strength back, your hair will grow back, and you will move forward in your life. However, its only been four or five months since your diagnosis, and you still need more recovery time. When I was diagnosed, the doctors said it was going to be like taking a one year detour to deal with it. So do give yourself that time, even if your husband thinks you’re not getting better fast enough. You need to impress upon him that you will be/are getting back on your feet, but it will be on your terms and he can’t tell you how you feel. Tell him he needs to give you time. Tell him you need his patience.

I agree with meow that sometimes family members express anger with our illness. Also is a good idea to discuss finances. There are lots of ways to curb expenses. You can find a wealth of information on thriftiness and money management online. One of my favorite sites is The Simple Dollar. I actually kind of have fun figuring out ways to be thrifty and save money without feeling deprived at all. I’ve learned to be so much smarter when it comes to money which makes me proud of myself. Especially while you’re still healing from the chemo and somewhat less active, you can use some of that down time to surf the net and educate yourself further on finances and budgeting. You and your husband can come out better on the other end of this. Like I said, it doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process.

found lump 12/22/10~er+/pr+/her2- stage iv bone mets------------- Chemo~lumpectomy~radiation~arimidex------------- March2019/Ibrance-Aromasin---------- Sept2019/Verzenio-Aromasin

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