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nonsupportive husband

Posts: 126
Joined: Apr 2009

Anyone in the situation with the nonsupportive selfish husband who has only thought about himself during my mother's treatment. She is tired(he is more tired), nauseated(he feels worse) etc; He has always been like this but I cannot even believe the self centered behavior and he is in perfect health. I have tried to talk to him and it is not pleasant.(turns into confrontation). Again this needs to be all about her NOT HIM

Gloria C
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2009

I have a completely non-supportive b/f (a Dr, no less). The day I got diagnosed he complained that he didn't get one of his cars smogged! When I asked about being there for surgery he said "what for? I've got things to do". Since he is responsible for the excellent medical care I will be getting, will not end the relationship yet. But this WILL end the relationship.

lindaprocopio's picture
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

Spoiled husbands and boyfriends are usually 'monsters of our own creation', at least mine is. I've always loved waiting on him and babying him. I know you've probably told your husband/boyfriend that you need to switch priorities for a little while, but it doesn't sound like he's hearing you.

My husband has always been a bit of a hypochondriac, and has studied his imagined 'symptoms' in the Merck Manual so many times over the decades that, when I got my diagnosis, he ALREADY knew all the new 'cancer words' I had never heard before. He already knew exactly what neuropathy was, what papillary serous cells were, all kinds of stuff, because he's always thought he had some horrible disease, even though he is always deemed 'healthy as a horse' when examined.

Anyway, because he has always been the eternal pessimist, and is prone to anxiety and worrying, from the very start of my cancer journey I told him "This has got to be about ME now; I can't be worrying about how you are handling this; you have to be the strong one now." And he's really come through for me. I know he is suffering with worry and anxiety about me, and sleepless so many many nights. But he maintains the 'brave face', breaking down only when I do, but has been there for me in a way neither one of us ever thought he'd be capable of. I feel selfish for insisting that it be this way, but I just couldn't be babying him just now. I needed to be the one babied while I am in treatment. I'm really proud and appreciative of him because he's been wonderful. We have always been very close, but this has brought us even closer.

Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 2009

My husband has been eager to be supportive. Is your mother's husband wanting to help? He has to want to first.
Next, he has to be taught what to do and what not to do. This does not come naturally to many men! Just starting with letting him know what little things will please your mom. Does she feel more in order if the bed is made in the morning? Tell him it will help her a bit if he beats her to making it in the morning. Find things like that for him to start with. Things he can do and see. Remember to have patience with him. He can grow through your mom's cancer treatment too!

Can he become more emotionally supportive? Sure. Will he? Nobody knows. Once he is receptive to helping her with the little things, he may be more receptive to approaching the deeper things. I flat out told my husband that I needed him to stop saying he was tired with I said I was tired. He thought it was a way of sympathizing. I see it as competitive and somehow diminishing how I feel. He was actually happy to hear how I felt about this.

Remember, we as a society do not teach our boys to emotionally take care of people. When in this kind of situation, some of them just don't know what to do.

Posts: 126
Joined: Apr 2009

Yes, she has pleaded with him to be here for her and he in turn says I do not feel good which precipitates a multitude of doctors appointments for him of which everything all turns out to be negative. He then gets a pat on the shoulder by his physicians who sympathize that he has been through so much. When she is at doctors appointments -- I take her to becuz when he goes he is still complaining about himself to HER physicians. She has always been so kind and thoughtful. I am out of patience with him because it is survivors who need the empathy, compassion and healing presence and his behaviour has been counter productive. I think physicians need to set some of these husbands down and have little talk with them. thanks for hearing me out because I am aggravated --what is right is right.He also has to tell everything that needs to be done around the house......

daisy366's picture
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

I feel sorry for you. He sounds very selfish - sorry for my candor!!

My husband has been the opposite - God bless him. He is also a cancer survivor - (now I prefer the word "thriver" to "survivor") and he has beaten me hands down in the nursing department. When I got sick, I so appreciated all his help and consideration which he has continued - he was NOT like this before. One thing I specifically requested though, was that he leave his work at work and he has really worked hard at this. He is very solicitous - always asking how I am and going out of his way to be nice, helpful, and clean up after himself (he rarely did this before) - he even cleans the house each week - again, all new behavior. It's great!! I wish you had this treatment.

You might use what I call the assertive communication formula to let him know how you feel. Here's an example: (always start with "I" and speak calmly) I'm ....disappointed (feeling word)...(about what)that you do not seem interested in supporting my mother (and me!!!)during this rough time ...(because)because she has always been so kind and thoughtful to you and because I could use your help and support too. I hope that you will reach out to mom and be supportive and helpful at this time. ..... or something to that effect.

I'd put it right out there and tell him what you want and expect from him!! It doesn't sound like it could get worse and it might even get better. Maybe my husband could have a few words with him.

Best wishes. Mary Ann aka Daisy

Ro10's picture
Posts: 1579
Joined: Jan 2009

It has to be frustrating for you to have two people to give emotional support to. There are many books available through the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute that include information for Caregivers. The Cancer Center I went to in Florida had a library with all kinds of booklets. The American Cancer Society is just a phone call away, and they will send you information free of charge. There are great resources available. I have found the ACS a great resource. Good luck to you and your Mom.

Reddie's picture
Posts: 72
Joined: May 2009

I wanted to share with you about my non supportive Father. Sometimes I still don't understand him when I'm going through hysterectomy. He has hasn't been talking to me or willing to help me out. One day I asked him to help me to put the socks on my feet and he said "you can do it yourself". I screamed at him and got pissed off! Whoa! I must be emotional wreak when he said that. My step mother didn't like the way I screamed so my step mom and I talked for an hour why I screamed. I realized that I graved for his attention and love. My father is 78 years old and I realized he can't handle stress very well. I had to think more carefully that he has been through a lot of pain that he has been "suffered" by me, my mom and my step mom who has been going through cancer. My step mom was telling me to take it easy and trying to remind me that he's somewhat having difficult time to understand how to express love and support. At that point I told him how I felt and need hug from him so we hugged and said that he loves me very much. I'm grateful that we could sit down and talk about our feelings. Sometimes we need to express "we" to help each other and show love for each other that will help us to get through crisis. Hugs, Reddie

barb55's picture
Posts: 91
Joined: Jan 2009

Such good advice. I can't add much except to say that my husband really "checked out on me" when I went in for my surgery a week after the diagnosis. I am so lucky because my sister and girlfriends and daughter all checked in for me. In his case, he didn't see it. He crashed out of fear and denial and also made it about himself. I used the same words in a difficult confrontation others have used, "This is about me right now, I need you."
He is an amazing husband and he did come through for me but, I needed to be very selfish and focused. I needed to know that even if he didn't come through for me (and I can only imagine how hard that would be) I would still come through for myself. I don't know your husband (father) and am not a therapist but I would guess that this is either a fear/denial response or this is just a pattern of behavior that has always been there and in a crisis becomes even larger. I 'm not making excuses. Be clear about what you need. if necessary try a third party. Be hopeful that they can change but in the end you have to be there for yourself-., Reddy, I am so glad you could share your feelings with your dad. You sound like a beautiful young woman. The hospital social workers often are good sources of support. Bonnie, feel free to vent Here.

Posts: 126
Joined: Apr 2009

Thanks for all your supportive comments and I so appreciate the help in dealing with this situation. I looked at the whole situation and this is his personality and we can really only be responsible for ourselves. I also am thankful for all the other support I and my mother have gotten from other areas --at this point I feel gratitude and kindness from many others and possibly I can try more to talk to my dad however I will just have to be there, hope he will come through and if not just let it go.For all of you that have less than supportive relatives I feel for your pain and for those that have supportive family it is such a blessing.

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