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marriage troubles

Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2006

my husband asked for a divorce on Monday then said he didn't mean it. I am devastated. We have been through so much . I will be 3 years cancer free this year. I think he blames me for getting cancer. He always reminds me of how hard my illness was on him. We have 3 kids ages 3,10,and 13.I feel worthless. Is this normal? Does cancer cause divorce? Any response will help.

JADot's picture
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Catherine:

I am so sorry to hear about what you're going through. It sounds like your husband is trying to communicate something to you, although he chose the worst way to start. It also sounded like he still cares about you though. Would you two consider marriage counseing? There is no doubt in my mind that a good counselor would be able to facility some quality communication between you two.

Does cancer cause divorce? I don't think there's a set formula. On one end there's Newt Gingrigh who couldn't wait until his wife (with cancer) was out of the hospital to discuss divorce terms. On the other hand are some wonderful spouse/caretakers who are on this site, who are, to us survivors,in the words of W.H. Auden " .. my North, my South, my East and West,My working week and my Sunday rest".

No faults of yours caused cancer. Nobody knows definitively why cancer happens, and nobody deserves it for any reason. Cancer takes many victims and can be equally hard on everyone whose life is touched by it, obviously the patients, but also the caregivers. I was a caregiver to my husband for one day, while he was in the hospital for a colonoscopy, and that experience just floored me. I had no idea how draining it was to watched your loved one suffer. Maybe your husband is just drained by the experience of being a caregiver for a long time.

I can totally understand why you feel devastated. I wish I can be there to give you the biggest hug. There's one thing worth doing - would you consider finding some strength and just thank your husband for the support that he did provide you in the past? Maybe that'll get him talking? Just a wild shot in the dark from me. Don't be mad at me.

Best of luck to you!

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

Aw, Ying, I hand my 'momma' sceptor over to you!
I agree, get someone for you BOTH to talk to, although I am going to say something pissy here...HE could focus more on you, than on what it has done to HIM (ok, over now). But, sadly, one of the things the beast does is morph us survivors into different people. My beau said to me, as to my upcoming end of treatment "Well, now we can get back to normal". I looked at him deeply and sincerely said "My old normal is gone, I cannot go back to it. You can share my new normal with me, or go on with your life without me...but there is no going back".
I have no stats on divorce and cancer...but in any relationship when one person changes more than the other, there is always the chance of conflict. You COULD NOT HELP getting cancer (at least, that medical science is aware of today), but it has profoundly changed you. You can no more 'go back' than go back to being 3 years old!
BUT, you do have responsibilities to those 3 beautiful children that just saw mommy going thru some awful stuff, find solace in them.
Hugs, "old lady who has seen too much" Kathi

Moesimo's picture
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

My heart goes out to you. I will be 3 years cancer free on Monday. The first 2 years were really rough and I often wondered if I would survive. The stress of it all can certainly strain a relationship. I was lucky to have the support of my husband, but it has been so difficult emotionally and physically at times.

Did your husband say he wanted a divorce during an argument? Maybe counseling would help. I know that my hubby and I have talked alot since all this started. When we have a crisis in our lives, and there have been many, it seems to bring us closer together.

Cancer sucks and affects the whole family even the kids. I felt so bad when I couldnt be the mom or wife. It has gotten better.


kerry's picture
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003


I'm so sorry this has happened. It seems that cancer makes other problems even BIGGER. Many of us have been through similar situations as yours. All I can say is stay strong - you have 3 lovely children who need you.

JaDot gave you some good advise as well.

You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.


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Betsydoglover's picture
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi Catherine -

I am so sorry to hear this. I think there is little question that cancer can put a strain on a relationship - in many different ways. In my case my husband was supportive during surgery and chemo, but has completely opted out of any cancer discussion since I "finished" chemo (in quotes, since I am stage IV). That alone causes strain - like Kathi says, we have a new "normal" now and it is not the same as the old normal. I think Ying (JADot) has given some good advice.

I wish you the best and please realize you can come back here anytime to talk.

Take care,

lfondots63's picture
Posts: 822
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Catherine,

I want to say I agree with everyone. It does put strain on a relationship. My husband one day said I asked too much of him. I try not to ask any help from him since it causes strife. It was something I needed and was to sick to do myself. That, like others, made me feel guilty about being sick but also sad. Either talking to your husband about your feelings will help or going to a counselor together to help facilitate talking about it. HUGS and wish it was more then virtually.


Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

Hi Catherine,

First let me say that I am very sorry that on the top of your fighting with cancer you have to deal with personal problems. I am so, so, so sorry.

There is the expression that is used in Europe very much. And it is: you only know who your real friends are when a trouble strikes. It is so true. To be a real friend means not just sharing good times, but most importantly in bad times. In my mind if a friend is not supporting me in the time of trouble, it is not a friend. To me this husband of yours sounds like a complete jerk (please excuse me if I am too blunt). What kind of good human being would behave like this? He obviously does not have any compassion or humanity, or kindness, and I am not even going to mention about love towards you. If he truly loved you, he would never shocked you like this. He wants the easy way out, he does not want trouble, he just wants to have a good time.

Catherine, dear, know this and do not feel worthless. He is the one who is worthless! Your illness was difficult on him! Oh, poor man, he was so struggling... What about you? How much did you suffer? Does he care? Obviously not. If my loved one was sick, it would not matter to me what is hard on me, what would matter to me is how to help my loved one. This man has no integrity.

Catherine, if you are willing to go for counseling, maybe it is worth it, I don't know. But if you can emotionally and financially afford to have him out of your life -- perhaps this is better. You have your children and they have you. You don't need this jerk (again I apologize if I am too rude). Get yourself a dog - it will be much more loyal. I am serious. The loayalty of dogs is incomparable with human's.

It is a rarity when men are kind and supportive and loving. There are some people on this board that have men like this. They are very fortunate. But in my mind men like this constitute only small percentage of all men.

I had a relationship with a man who when I was sick could not run fast enough. I got rid of him. What is the purpose of having a relationship like this? Just for fun? Not for me.

I hope everything works out for you. But please first think about yourself and your children.

If you need a shoulder to cry, do not hesitate to e-mail me.

Best Regards, Eleonora

vinny3's picture
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

You are getting good advice from the others. Counseling for both of you is recommended. Perhaps it is just a matter of really being able to communicate. He thinks it was/is hard on him? Does he think has been easy for you? You did not ask for the disease. All you can do is keep fighting it and that will be a longterm issue. He needs to be aware that more will be asked of him. Isn't that part of the vows?

Sorry, he has some concerns as do all of our caregivers and maybe just doesn't know how to express them. Think of your 3 beautiful children and hang in there. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family.

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

Catherine -

I can honestly say I know how you feel. My ex- did Newt Gingrich one better, she served me with divorce papers in the hospital 2 days after my cancer surgery. I spent my entire time in chemo enduring a nasty divorce. I had to get a 2nd job in order to be able to make ends meet. Not a happy time. The one thing I can honestly say is that my ex-spouse didn't hurl accusations of how hard my disease was on her. Like we WANT to get cancer, eh? In fact, I firmly believe that emotional stress and strain are enablers for cancer. Perhaps your relationship prior to your illness led to your getting sick?

Anyway, there is lots of good advice here. The only thing that I will add is this mantra that I hope you consider daily:

" I am a good person. I live my life in a proper manner and treat those around me as I would like to be treated. If others choose to say and do hurtful things to me, it is a manifestation of their issues not mine."

You are not responsible for being sick. If your spouse is too weak to support you emotionally and physically during that time, that's his issue and he has no place trying to divert cause for that issue to you. It is weakness, irresponsibility and lack of knowledge of self that is pushing this on you. Stand-up, be proud that you are a survivor, tell your husband to grow-up/step-up/and accept responsibility for himself and his situation. If he stays, good. If he leaves, that's OK, too - I considered myself to have been rid to 2 cancers when I got my divorce papers. Better to cut off someone who won't be there for you than go through your life wanting something you won't/can't have. Your kids love and need you. Their love is unconditional - put your eggs in that basket and in your own basket.

Woof... I think I rambled there. Can you tell that this is still a sensitive subject with me? Sorry if I ranted. I hope you can pull a useful nugget or two out of that diatribe !


- SpongeBob

jams67's picture
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

Cancer is so hard on everyone it touches. I hate that this is happening to you. It sounds like you could use a counselor. After 39 years with the same man, I will say that marriage is not easy and sometimes there are hills and many other times there are valleys. ROMANCE, not necessarily sex, may be the answer. Get the grandparents or friends to keep the kids for a long weekend and get away so that you have a captive audience and talk to each other, or just cook dinner at home and put a candle on the table. Let him know you appreciate him. The children are worth anything(not abuse) you have to do to keep both parents in the household. Could it be that one or both of you needs medication for depression to get you through this major hurdle. You should try going more than halfway to put the pieces back together. I'm not saying its your fault, but it may be up to you to make him think home is a special place to stay. Do the hard part, call the counselor, get the babysitter, etc.

Posts: 32
Joined: Jul 2005

Is your husband a total Jerk or what. When my husband got sick never ever did I once think of leaving just the opsit I think he got tired of my hanging on to him so much. Love doesn't stop just cause someone gets sick it should make it strong. Yes cancer is hard on both parties but I can only image how hard it is on the one who has it. Ater seeing what my husband went through I have promised my self if I get sick and there is no cure I will end it before it ends me.

Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2006

No defense, I'm just an old guy. Been hitched for 37 years this month. Only been cancer free for 20 months. My wisdom for today.

Boys and girls are different, but cancer tends to be an equalizer in emotional burdens. We tend to forget the stress on our relationships, and the stressors in our different environments. Communications is still the best way to releave the tension. The appropriate reply is ")(&*^%^%$# [Smile sweetly], and how was your day." OR "I'm find thank you, [Smile sweetly] and how was your day."

I would expect that he had a rough day, and needed to explod at someone. You were available and he expected you not to respond, BUT.

Do I feel worthless? Yes. Is this normal? Yes. Does cancer cause divorce? No, altered communication and false expectation causes divorce.

My household is struggling, probably like everyone's elses. And yes my wife said the same thing to me then said she didn't mean it. And I also was devastated.

My primary role prior to my cancer was providing a safe haven for my spouse and family. Since my health has been going downhill. I have my cancer guilt, and my wife has her extended and emotional burdens to deal with. Because of this our communications has suffered, but when and if whoever catches it, that person has the responsiblity to make the other look like a fool. It's not perfect, but it helps.

You are not worthless, you just need to work out some guidelines with your husband over the false expectations. You have changed and he has changed. But the relationship does not have to change if you both are willing set up some agreements to defuse the frustration, anger, and guilt that sometimes bubbles out. A smart remark and a smile then passing the ball back works for us [when it happens].

Anonymous user (not verified)

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Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2004

i have lost a cowardly husband, married 18 years, and now a cowardly boyfriend, together 7 yrs, both due to my brain cancer. is there any one out there that would accept me for who i am

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