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Another Angry Spouse

Posts: 9
Joined: May 2018

My husband was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma a year ago.  During his surgeries and recovery we were closer than ever.  He has elected to do the watch and wait option as his follow up.  So far, there has been no recurrence of his cancer.  Since October, (approximately one year since diagnosis) he has been displaying extreme discontent with everything in his life .. . Including me!  He is always angry and so cruel to me.  He doesn't seem to realize the devastation he is creating or realize how vicious and hurtful he is.  I keep hearing things from him about how things need to go his way now or everything needs to be what he wants and I should change to be what he wants me to be now.  We haven't exactly had the best marriage over the years but he's never been this cold and uncaring.  At first I thought the personality change was due to a diet pill he was on but he went off that a month ago and he's still horrible.  This is literally destroying me.  I contemplate leaving but how do you walk away from 32 years?  I don't even know where to start.  The ironic part of all of this is that I found the melanoma and had him into doctor's offices within two weeks.  They constantly tell him that I saved his life and this is the payback I get???  Any suggestions on how to survive this??  Thanks.

sondrahays's picture
Posts: 23
Joined: Aug 2017


My husband was diagnoised in May of 2017 with small cell lung cancer(worse kind there is) and we were devasted to say the least. our lives changed very fast, to finding the right treatment, doctors him quitting his job etc. I took on everything, I mean everything. so that all he needed to worry about was concentrating on getting better. we are in remission at the moment. but this last year has changed him completely. he had brain radiation to try and avoid the cancer from going to the brain an sometimes i feel like that played a part, or I am looking for an excuse as to why he is always anger I feel or never happy. he shows no affection towards me, or gives me anything for all I have tried to do for him. I have thought about leaving also. but like you said how?I would feel guilty or his family would think horrible of me. but i don't feel that just because we are caregivers it is okay to take abuse that can come with it. we are dealing with our own demons watching how everything is changing. it is hard, and one of the hardest things I have ever done. everyone is different. I think I would want to be as close to someone as possible should i possibly be dying and would want to live life as happy as I could for as long as I could, he sees it differently. it has shut me down and I am not sure where to turn. i thought about joning a support group, I have asked him to go so we can work through this. and he refuses. I just know that changes have to come some, or I won't be able to stay and take it. hope things get better for you. just know you are not alone.

Posts: 9
Joined: May 2018

Thank you so much for your post!!!  Just knowing I am not the only one going through this is a huge help.  I do go to a therapist on my own about it which helps a little.  I will keep you in my thoughts and hope we can both survive this.

k2oly's picture
Posts: 13
Joined: Dec 2017

you're not alone. that sounds typical of *many* cancer patients. (some people attribute it to the disease some attribute it to treatment. either way, it's common. with my loved one, this hostility/aggression/vile anger varies in intensity depending on which chemo drug she's on. that abrasiveness is always there now, but sometimes it's better than other times. it's dead wrong of people to say it's because someone is facing death or this scary diagnosis. this symptom is *not* typical of all terminal illnesses; it *IS* typical of many cancers & cancer treatments.) one of the oncology therapists i work with calls this hostility/aggression/anger "cancer's dirty little secret'. many describe it as a personality transplant. others say that existing negative/difficult personality traits and behaviors become magnified. in any case, you are NOT alone!

you do not have to take the abuse. esp if it is physical - make sure that you are safe! just because cancer is the reason for the attacks does not mean it's excusable or acceptable - it just means it's understandable.

if you stay, i'd encourage you to try several coping strategies until you find the ideal one(s) for *you*. i found that working with therapists who specialize in oncology has been the most help for me. they help me do what's best for me while understanding that i'd hate myself if i left. however, they also know that i'm coming to the end of my rope. there's only so much i can take.

support groups (face-to-face and also online) are a close second in terms of helpfulness to me.

i've found very few generic tips for caregivers/loved ones of cancer patients, but have had GREAT luck finding excellent tips by searching for tips for caregivers/loved ones dementia patients. (Eg: https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-suspicion-delusions.asp ) still, putting those tips into practice can be challenging and it helps a great deal having a therapist or support network help you apply them in the moment to a specific situation.

not sure whether this helps. but please know that you are not alone. being in our situation is extremely trying. one of my oncology therapists says that after working with so many patients and their loved ones, if she had to choose between getting cancer or getting to be the loved one of someone with cancer, she'd choose cancer because it's "easier" psychologically. if you're losing your mind, you don't realize that you're losing your mind and you don't notice the repercussions.

Posts: 9
Joined: May 2018

Thank you so much for the suggestions and support.  Your words mean the world to me.  We probably all think intellectually that others might be dealing with this but to hear others stories really helps!  I'll be thinking of you.

Anonymous user (not verified)

Hi everyone,

I'm one of the newer posters on this site, after my husband  had a baseball-sized tumor surgically removed from his abdomen this past April 21st.  They diagnosed him this past spring with Germinal, Non-Hodgkin's Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, so we haven't been on the cancer merry-go-round for all that long.  I'm a little verbose, so please forgive me; but, I ran across this disucssion after posting something myself this morning.  

My husband and I will have been married for 40 years this coming August; so, I too, have been in a marriage that (like everyone else's), has its ups and downs . . . but . . . this, THIS is a whole different ball game.  I wish I could articulate just how devastating this diagnosis has been to our relationship.  At first, it seemed we were both on the same page about it all.  First, the shock, then the sadness (or at least for me that was what I was feeling) . . . anybody's guess as to what that husband of mine is thinking . . . as he refuses (even after getting his shaved yesterday) to share ANY emotion with me.  He's all "It's all part of the plan", "We knew this was going to happen with the hair", which totally contradicts his mood the night before when he saw what could fill a mattress in his bathroom sink.  He was saying, that night, "Well I MAY not lose it all".  Honestly, what is wrong with the male gender????  It has been almost 2 months of this poop and he has barely shed one single tear with me or allowed me more than whatever alotted time I am given (which he denies there is) to "get it all out", while patting me like a dog and having to excuse himself to go brush his teeth, leaving me sitting there babbling like a moron.  I feel isolated.  I feel sad and I am filled with fear that this cancer cloud is NEVER, EVER going to lift.  We will be dealing with this for months and that's only IF this RCHOP they're pumping into his body will work.  If there is no improvement next month after Round #3 after they run a repeat PET scan . . . we will be facing 5 day hospital stays every month in preparation for a Stem Cell Transplant.  And . . . here he is . . . . man of steel (unless there's no one around, as I've seen those welled up tears in his eyes) . . . and me, blubbering like a fool. 

Our history of 40 years has brought us to this familiar place before but like I said . . . this work of the devil is a much scarier and darker threat to our lives than we've ever faced and it would seem as though my husband would prefer us to each take our own personal corner of hell and deal with each of our "issues" alone, rather than help and support each other with me (a woman, filled with hormones and a heart bursting with emotion) and he . . . talking himself out of every side effect we've seen so far that, what?  Doesn't make him sad or fearful?  I find that absolutely unbelievable . . . especially, if after all these years, he would rather have me cry with someone else than the man I still love so deeply.  It's absolutely bizarre!

Anyhow . . . that's my little piece of cancer hell I needed to vent since reading others have experienced similar things.  What a sad, sad situation that I, apparently, am not allowed to cry over.



Posts: 526
Joined: Nov 2013

I understand what you are going through.  My husband is also quiet, not sharing his feelings, and it makes me feel very alone.  Sometimes I read about disasters like this bringing people together, but not in our case.  You will have to accept the disappointment, and I struggle with that almost every day.  Take care of yourself too.  Take care of your own health.  Be with friends, and family.  See your doctor if you need to.  Just wanted you to know that you aren't the only one dealing with an uncommunicative spouse.

Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2019

My wife never cried when dealing with her cancer-lung into brain. It had to have been because of the brain which she had 20 tumors that had mets. It started as lung cancer. But her emotions she once had seemed to disappear. It was not her . She would not even get emotional when I would start crying-she would just shake her head and look somewhere else at her laptop or cell phone. All she seemed to live ofr was her laptop where she became abusive of our credit cards ordering stuff like crazy running up tabs. I had to take her off pur online banking as she was ruining that as well. But she was more concerned about that more than me-her-anything. She wanted it by her side 24-7- wanted it turned on -would not sleep. It was dreadful she turned into an 8 year old and worse we eventually had to treat her as such and take things away from her. She would get angry- vicious-spit and curse. She lways would accuse me of trying to kill her-  what pills are these?  Totally paranoid and yet aggressive. It was scary and depressing. We had a 37 year marriage that was great and awash in laughter and love. THIS turned into HELL. I guess thats what this does- sad to say. I never knew this- nobody warned us- it just happened and we were blindsided. We were in a way fortunate as she went in 2 months. Dont get me wrong- Thats a horrible thing to say but when you hear of others dealing with stuff like this for a year-2? I dont know how we could have handled it- yet we would have. When its the love of your life you dont have any choice-you stand and fight for them. I know damn well she would have for me.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2018

Im sorry but this seems to a be a normal side effect after having any type of cancer. The most important part is to understand that the behavior is no way connected to you. It is not your fault. This is depression. The only thing you can do is stand back and let him sort through his feelings. He will come back around. Cancer feels like being hit by a car and the moment after being frozen and shocked. He just needs a little space to heal mentally.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2018

My husband of 22 years was diagnosed with Stage 4 Gray Zone Lymphoma in April 2016 and underwent the "CHOP" chemo, which included immunotherapy. His scans have been cancer free since Sept 2016. At age 65. We have two children ages 18 and 20. I know we are lucky he is still with us. He has a significant family history of various cancers.

Initially my husband said I was to be involved every step of the way. However, that was short lived. We disagreed about how to proceed. He had found a local suburban oncology practice after careful research; I was advocating going to a top urban cancer center within an hour's drive since this was his first encounter with cancer. We went with his doc. I went with him to his first appointment. My husband was, by far, the youngest patient in the large waiting area. There were multiple biopsies to reach diagnosis, which did nothing to make me feel more confident about my husband's choice of physician. I asked questions of the doctor. My husband did not like this. He started his chemo. Again, I was asking questions. My husband did not like this and his treatment team also bristled; he is part of an experimental study - a subject to the doctors and questions like mine, it seems, threaten the integrity of the data potentially. The treatment worked, so my questions proved unnecessary. Along the way, after the first of the six three-week cycles of treatment, my husband said he would handle things himself. I stood back. He has always been very contained and independent. I had been focusing on maintaining normalcy for our younger daughter from the beginning of this journey and continued on this path. I had tried very unsuccessfully to manage the rebellion, which became an abandonment of the family mid-treatment - by our newly minted adult at this same time (the older child turned 18 within days of the diagnosis). Just call us a Lifetime movie.

Late in the diagnsos phase, I had started sleeping in the guest bedroom. He was up and down and sleeping in sometimes. I needed to get the younger one off to school. At first it was a few things in the other room, then this grew, and eventually i was there too. Later my husband would cite this as an example of how I abandonned him during his cancer.

As his treatment continued into the summer of 2016, he grew weaker but continued to go it alone. He spent his days on the computer, working remotely. I heard him telling the nurse from the insurance company that he had is work, that he was well-respected by his colleagues and that was all he needed. The younger daughter and I watched him silently that summer. One day there was a thud and I ran to the door. He said he was fine. Now he tells me that he had fallen. He had to be hospitalized with complications once during his treatment. I fought with the local ambulance service to have him delivered to treatment center directly, rather than the local hospital ER. I wrote a blog for family and friends, updating them to reduce the repetition of the same information to kind, interested folks. I tried, in short, to help and be there in the background. My husband says that, on those trips he chose to make alone for treatment, he saw other couples. He saw how they cared for each other. He says that's not us. That I abandonned him.

In the past year, he has regained his physical strength. Some short term memory lapses that were more prevalent initially - which he does not admit to - are better. But he is shorter tempered than he was before. He has always favored routine but departures from what was expected fluster him more. Last spring he wanted to sell the house; he told me we could not afford it any longer and then, once I signed the listing agreement, said he was not necessarily moving to a new place with me. He eventually agreed to live together until the younger daughter turned 18. But he is bitter and resentful. He wants to be on his own, with his own living space, his own finances, his own choice of meals - without having to deal with me, especially. He tells me he is "done with me" and that "you're never going to change."

Throughout this entire ordeal, he has been complete upbeat, making jokes, etc. I saw him only tearful once - the day he told me about the MRI results in the very beginning. He declined the insurance company's suggestion that he go to therapy. He declined to take medication for depression which was suggested at the early appointments that I did attend. I don't know who he thinks is going to care for him if he gets sick again. His family is not in town. His parents are deceased. I AM IT.  More recently, I have been pleading with my husband not to push for a divorce. He remains insistent, razor-like in determination....and then we sit down and share a meal, go about the days, share a bedroom like nothing is going on.

Posts: 9
Joined: May 2018

The up and down of their emotions is really hard to handle.  Hang in there and remember to take care of you!

Xenia princess ...
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2018

Cancer can be very mean to us. My husband was diagnosed November 2017 has colon, lung & kidnet, terminal cancer will be on chemo the rest of his life. When first diagnosed, we cried held each other as much as possible and talked. It did not want to see anyone even our children 34,33,30, finally I said he needed to at least see them it helped. He has chemo ever 2 weeks, for 7 months were tuff with sleeping a lot to not eating, after 3 months of treatment he seemed quite well turn out he was in touch with his ex wife (2yrs of marriage no children- divorced she cheated) he finally told me they have been in contact and she wanted to see him. I thought I was ok with it but after feeling creeeping up I was not. I asked why and he said he was curious on her life and texting stared. Long story short they did not meet, said he was done texting her but he did do it again I was hurt he said he had a bad moment and  showed me a text telling her he love me and does not want to hurt me anymore, her comment was not nice. So to say the least I am hurt and trust is no an issue.

today he has his moments he does get snarly, keeps thing to himself, I can see the angry on his face when he looks at me and I usually walk away. I keep reminding him we need to do things ourselves and with family. Being a caregiver is very trying never knowing what each day will bring: eating, attitude & health issues. I think I get more anxiety than he does not knowing if chemo this week or what is next. I started reading at chemo more, listening to music I like and just sometimes go to store to walk around for my sanity. I feel like I am in this a lone and why, don't kid yourself I have pulled over on the side of the and cried till it hurts, punched  things as well, which does feel good. So please,  I know it's hard cancer is a terrible disease but you need to find  a snitch for you, and remember it's not you! You are in my thought

Posts: 9
Joined: May 2018

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.  It means a lot and really helps.  Best to you.

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2018

Reading all of the posts about anger, rage, cruel behavior made me feel less alone!  Less ¨it must be me¨...¨What happened to my husband?  Now, I have some answers.


Our 7th anniversary was a few months ago; we were at a Resort and my husband had a romantic surprise for me...he had arranged for a local Pastor to meet us near the beach at a secluded spot...he had purchased a beautiful locally made gold band....we were going to renew our vows on our 7th Anniversary!  This was the man I married seven years ago after living together for one year and being engaged for one year.  THis was the kind, caring, considerate man I once knew.  The one that never screamed at anyone, never used foul language around anyone, the one that told me he would never hurt me.  We are both in our 60ś and considered our finding each other a ¨Gift from God!¨  


In 2016, he had a routine physical and they discovered he had an extremely low platet count.  He went to a local Onocologist and was treated with several different drugs; put on a heavy dosage  oif Predisonne for several weeks; all with no improvement.  Due to severe pain in his leg and an emergency visit to the PA at his knee replacement surgeonś office, he was sent for an MRI and they found MM.  Finally was convinced to go to a nearby, large town, where there was a great cancer institute and a wonderful doctor!!!  He was given radiation, medication, injections and finally a Stem Cell Transplant, April 2017.  Since that time, his M-Spike has come down--and remained down-- at 0.4!  He is on a maintainence dose of 1 pill for 28 days abd off 7.


Somewhere in all of that, he became a different person.....at first, it was an occasional blow-up; then, more frequent bouts of irrational anger; now, complete rage---nearly every day.  He is easily frustrated and then just ¨loses it¨.  He will rant, rave, scream, repeat the same things over and over....sometimes lasting well into 3 to 4 hours.  He can go from ¨I love you¨ to accusations  that  I´ve  never  loved him, in the blink of an eye.  Then, he begins with, ¨You get me all wound up and then I start screaming....änd the tirade is on for hours!!  

In the beginning, I would try reasoning....then, I would get angry and mad.  Now, I just get silent.  I try to keep my voice low and tell him I am not going to participate in an argument.  Northing seems to work....He totally ripped his t-shirt off his body yesterday.....today, it was ¨if you leave, I´ll kill myself...   Sometimes, I think I am the one that is losing it.


I am seeing a Therapist at the cancer center; she recommends I get out and do some things that I like.....to take care of myself since I am unwilling at this point to toss in the towel.  But, I, too, feel like I am nearing the end of my rope.  When all of this was sporadic, I had some time to recoup.....now that it is daily, I am tired.  And, I am tired of being tired.  I am tired of letting my guard down and believing the ¨I love yous¨ and then, being cussed at, screamed at, told it is all my fault......


Thanks for sharing and for letting me vent.....



Catholic's picture
Posts: 86
Joined: May 2016

Vent anytime.

I know what you are going through.  There is a part in the bible that talks about Elijah and he is so discouraged that he asks
to die rather than continue.  It says:

   He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said.
   "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."

I personally dont feel like dying but the whole "I have had enough" statement really resonates with me and Im guessing it resonates
with you as well.

Here is my advice for whatever its worth and from someone who has been abused the same way.

1. Get a membership at a local gym and work out regularly.  I find that when I go to the gym, that I can put up with my
wife's anger and that when I dont go to the gym, she gets on my nerve.

2. Sleep.  Sleep at least 8 hours.  Again, if I get a good nights rest, Im better at letting angry comments go.

3. Do things for you.  For example, take yourself out to lunch tomorrow.  Find a place, go in and enjoy lunch.  And
not McDonalds. I remember someone telling me to take myself out to lunch and I thought they were crazy.  But then I did it
and enjoyed it so much that I do it regularly now.  I enjoy lunch with friends as well.

4. Talk to friends.  Vent on this site.


Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2018

Hi there,  I am new here.  My husband was diagosed with Stage 2B testicular cancer about 2 1/2 years ago... He did intensive chemo for 4 months and thankfully has been in remission for 2 years now.  Over the last year, he has been very angery.  He thinks I am crazy when I try to talk to him about it.  He accuses me of making a mountain out of a mole hill.  He things I am blowing things out of proportion.  But, others have noticed the changes too.  My aunts, his daugher, my mom.  He even had a blow up fight/confrontation with my dad about 2 months ago.  Things have not been the same with my husband, father or family since.   We have been talking to a counselor separately, but my husband is still always belittling my feelings.  Tonight he just lost it because we are out of town and our home security alarm went off and we were not notified by the alarm company.  My husband got very angery and blamed my parents for not going to check on our home often enough, since we are gone.  He then got mad at me, because I was not angery about the situation.  There is never any reasoning... Then he starting telling me things that were not true and mixing up names and things that had happened (this happens a lot along with him not remembering conversations...)  

I love him, but I am so tired...  I have been the sole provider for our home the last 2 1/2 years and I am dealing with both of my parents who have cancer diagnoses as well.  I am just so broken at this point.  Any ideas as to where I can get some help or a shoulder to lean on?  


Thanks so much!

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