• Has anyone noticed a change (good or bad) in their relationship with their spouse since their diagnosis?

    Asked by wajohnson on Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Has anyone noticed a change (good or bad) in their relationship with their spouse since their diagnosis?

    22 Answers from the Community

    22 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I have fought cancer off and on for 24 years, my wife has been great. If anything has changed I'd have to say that we don't look at the little things like we used to. Don't let as much bother us or worry about some things. Life is too short to let the little things bother you. We try to have family over a lot more now, I like to smoke ribs, butts, brisket, etc. so we get as many people to the house as we can on most holidays.
      Good luck to you!

      over 8 years ago
    • cranburymom's Avatar

      I do feel that our relationship changes - both good and bad.
      Like Drimmerboy said, we no longer argue over something small (turned out to be most things we get upset are small...). But we both are going though mid-life crisis mainly due to the huge amount of unspoken stress upon us.
      I am doing lots of things that help me. I do feel that things I enjoy these days are often different from what he loves. Eventually we need to find something we both enjoy together. I do need a bit more time to be selfish. So I can embrace our relationship and support my family. Right now I really want to get back to normal - really really badly...

      does this help? what are your concern???

      over 8 years ago
    • RuthAnne's Avatar

      Yes. Both good and bad here. We're much more physically affectionate but have less sex. We take some things much more lightly and other things much more seriously. He pays much more attention to my facial expressions and body language but interprets them incorrectly.

      It's been a mixed bag.

      over 8 years ago
    • danellsar's Avatar

      Our changes are mostly not so good. No more physical closeness, no more touching. He's angry and feeling bad most of the time, and he tends to take it out on me. No sex. We used to talk and share and laugh. Now, he's mostly silent and somber.

      It's been tough on our kids, too.

      over 8 years ago
    • susie81610's Avatar

      Mine was a train wreck before they found the cancer and it has only gotten worse. He talks to people like i"m going to die tomorrow and i cant do anything which is B.S. the only thing that i don't do as much is drive and that is by choice because of the meds. We have lost everything except our cars which are 13 yrs old but they run!! I have even lost all of my family so I have nowhere to go not even our home they have that also.
      I get up everyday and stay strong not only for my children but myself and I push myself to be my best for that day and try not to worry what the next day will bring because somethings I have no control over. As for emotions I just don't have them any more nothing physical in years and I have lost most of my emotions these last six years. I hope that cancer has brought more people together than taken them apart. Please if there is any chance try to make it work. I love my husband but I feel like we are room mates. He also has medical issues now also. I could go on and on but I'm sure you understand.
      Good luck to all of you.

      over 8 years ago
    • Stevedarke's Avatar

      Happiness is a hard fought emotion even in the so called good times. The chances are being diagnosed with cancer may not make a bad relationship good when there are already destructive emotions within the relationship. If you are not friends before diagnosis it is unlikely you will be afterwards. Stress can be bigger than the diagnosis for some and can be the catalyst for ending a relationship which can be initiated by the sufferer or carer. My own relationship has at times been tested to almost breaking point but we are still together. I don’t think there is any easy answer to the question posed except to say this illness brings out the best and the worst in people.


      over 8 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar

      My tips:
      1. Date night--get to know each other again. Both partners are changed during cancer. Barry and I were best friends before cancer threatened to kill me. We had a very balanced control. When I was in treatment he took over; I needed him to do so. He was the lead parent, the decision maker regarding some of my medical decisions, the financial decision maker. Now that I am out of treatment, he remains in control. He sees that I am not 100%, and that I probably never will be again. This is mostly hardest on me.
      During treatment, the night before chemo, we had date night!! This really helped keep us close. We spent one evening pretending that we were okay, that everything would be okay.

      2. Touch!! During chemo I had to ask Barry to touch me, just run his fingertips along my arm or leg. Humans need to be touched. I also had to remember to touch him. Taking care of a cancer patient is very lonely!!

      3. He had cancer, too. The tumor might not have been in his body, but he had to deal with every aspect of treatment and recovery. A girlfriend (also bc patient) once pointed her finger at my chest and yelled that her husband Ididn't have cancer and had no idea how she felt. I disagree. I think he had a pretty good idea. That woman left a very compassionate husband.

      4. End of treatment is not the end!! There are so many residual things to deal with. Give each other time.

      Barry and I will celebrate 17 years this November. I thought when one of us had cancer we would be 92 years old and have 67 years of marrital experience to lean on. But that didn't happen.

      over 8 years ago
    • MichaelV's Avatar

      I had gone through 2 marriages and broke up with my live in partner and she moved out 1 week before I found out that my PSA had risen from 0 to 9 in less than a year in November 2002. I was alone. I was not scared and I didn't want to worry the family so I kept it all a secret until just before the operation in late Jan.2003. My ex was there for me, we actually share the same office and business. We are both photographers. Now the hardest thing for me to contend with was dating. I had experiences from people wanting to take care of me to some people(dates) physically moving away from me once I let them know my situation. Sometimes I found it funny and sometimes I would say, "Why the XXX do I have to go through this?" I even got married again for 5 weeks just before I found out the cancer had returned. I had the marriage annulled as I had been lied to since the beginning of the relationship. Then I had radiation and just like they said, "In three months you will never get an erection again". They were right. I still pushed on. Still did Internet dating on at least 8 different sights. What I found were 1 out of 20 were nice and level headed but we were not a match in the life style category. The other 19 either lived to far away or wanted to know the size of my home, make and year of car, when are we going on vacation, etc. you get the idea. The best was an educated woman who keep asking me about prostate cancer. She didn't even know what a prostate was or did. On our last date I drove her out to a blues bar which was an hour and half from her condo. It was a great show and dinner. On the way back I started to answer all her questions about prostrate cancer and where I was at with it. The one thing she keep asking, "Do you wear diapers?" I found this so out of line for the shortness of our relationship(2nd date) that I did something sort of out of character, on the drive back to her condo I answered all her questions and painted the worse possible outcome for my condition. When I pulled up to her building, she jumped out and never looked back. Not even a "thank you" for all that free education!!!! :-) For me, any romantic relationship was a struggle.

      Then I'll skip forward to the hormone therapy. That was the end of the romantic Michael. I lost all interest in dating or any kind of romantic relationship. I came on slowly and I stopped trying to date and just concentrated on ME and making a living(a whole other story) which was becoming more difficult as the word spread that I had cancer. People can be cruel and shortsighted. I became content to read, re-educated myself on many aspects of physics which was my major in college. I have found great comfort in leaning more about astrophysics which was what I was going to do before the money in big business lured me in for 10 years.

      I am now in a relationship which was more by accident than by plan. The complaint is that I am not romantic, I am not. The hormone therapy completely wiped it from my mind and I will not fake what is not there. I am still a very nice guy and thoughtful and a good listener but when it comes to sex, romance or anything associated with those two things, I have nothing in my bag. For a man, you have to push yourself as you do not have the "thoughts" that came across your mind every minute since you went through puberty, or in my case, even before that. The only good thing is I really don't "miss it" as I no longer have the desire. That has been the hardest thing to explain to my present partner.

      Hope this helps some of you in your understanding of this disease.


      over 8 years ago
    • SunnyCloud's Avatar

      My husband became distance and seemed to be in a bad mood. But I think he was just afraid. After therapy you could see his relief.

      over 8 years ago
    • AngieJ's Avatar

      my husband & I have a healthily relationship before & after my diagnosis July 2011 .I told him way long time ago ,to let go of the little stuff ,so most lite stuff we let go ,occasionally there willbe the little stuff .I can't imagine separation or divorce for us we talked about compassion & commitment before We married while were cohabiting ,after we married & times when big stuff happens we both mutually agree that we are staying together & love & respect each other whatever life throws at us ,I do hear of couples where the husband leaves the wife & vice versa .we never know what happens in our lives but we agree either of us will not leave the relationship.I have stage IV rectal cancer & 53 yrs old when I was diagnosed .I do strongly recommend Gildas club I go ,my hubby & occasionally my mother,I cannot begin to explain the value I have shared with the club ,it's grey they have a dinner @ 6:30 then we have group where we are all in separate groups from 7-8:30 pm ,they even have Nuggi land a play place for little ones. They have groups from baby ,toddler ,school age ,teens ,young adults ,to adults it's Great !

      over 8 years ago
    • mysecondchance's Avatar

      The man in my life died of a heart attack about two and a half years before my diagnosis. I've longed for his support; even more so when I read about the love and support some of the women on the ovarian cancer site receive from their spouses.

      Then I remember how he couldn't cope with illness. Whether it be me or our son. He would get angry when our son was sick and I thought it was because he thought I wasn't taking good care of him but he explained it was because it made him feel helpless. I understood but that always put the responsibility on me.

      If I was feeling sick he would come and ask me how I was feeling every five minutes. I would tell him I just feel sick, it's nothing serious. He would say, I just don't want anything to happen to you.

      So I don't think he would have handled my cancer very well. Not that I wouldn't want him to still be here but I'm afraid I would have had to be strong for him as well as myself.

      over 8 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Yes and I am glad to say all for the better. My husband is neither patient not demonstrative by nature but he has become much more patient with me through this and has expressed feelings that he never has before. This journey has brought us much closer and opened a new dimension of love - a measure of caring and joy found in simply being alive.
      To those women who find that their husbands seem angry - maybe it helps to understand that men seem to express fear as anger. So when they feel afraid, they act angry. Maybe he just so afraid to lose you that he can't face it, and so becomes angry - at the cancer and worse, at you. I know my hubby went through some of that but we were able to work past it. I know he would be devastated if something happened to me - once he told me that out loud, it dissolved a lot of the anger and I could understand what he was going through.

      over 8 years ago
    • jamrck's Avatar

      We appreciate each other more. He couldn't do enough for me then and what I think is really telling, is that he continues to help with things, e.g. grocery shopping, dishes, that he didn't do prior. I agree that you shouldn't sweat the small stuff. You do need to talk to each other. Some of that comes from being married a long time anyway, but I think we still learned a lot. We'll be married 32 yrs in May.

      over 8 years ago
    • mamajltc's Avatar

      When my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer 2 1/2 years ago, the strangest thing happened...I became more in love with him than I thought possible. He is 68 and I am 52. He has stage 4 (now in his lung), and we have been married almost 22 years. I saw a side of him that I did not know existed...amazing strength, humor, compassion, kindness and love. He had all of this before, but cancer put this to the test and he is my hero because of how he handles all he has been through (a lot...in his 2nd, going into year 3, of chemo, radiation, 2 major surgeries, 3 major hospital stays, side affects and reactions). He has so much class and dignity. I don't know he does it. And I, always a bit type A, didn't know how I would balance work and 2 teens and this illness but together, we do. We call ourselves Team Jones (our last name is Jones)...he does for me what he can and I for him, but how he handles this continues to amaze me. We still fight like normal couples and there are days that the stress gets to us, but we manage to work it out. Our lives are much simpler and we appreciate more now that we ever have.

      over 8 years ago
    • wajohnson's Avatar

      Having cancer is a heavy load to carry alone, you all have shown me that it is much more manageable when you have someone to help carry it with you.

      over 8 years ago
    • caissg's Avatar

      Having a traumatic condition is test of character in any relationship. This is when you find out if there is true love. I was a caregiver and the diagnosis for my loved one was traumatic for both of us. We were barely 3 years into the marriage. As it turns out, given the condition, my loved one had known about the diagnosis several years before but had failed to inform me. So I was also betrayed at the same time. Whether you call it a good or bad thing, I think only time will tell. Given the nature of the diagnosis and the "young" relationship of the marriage, a lot of expectations in life, career, kids, are put on HOLD. It is a devastating feeling. I stayed. And as a young, male, spousal caregiver, we are a minority within a minority. Because no one takes our group seriously, there is very little awareness and support for folks like us. The best thing I have learnt is that it is never OK to lie. Even if the truth hurts. Because lying hurts more and longer. So be true to your emotions. If you are not getting the care you deserve as a patient, reach out, try and if it still gets worse, move on. If you are not getting the support as a caregiver, reach out, try and if it still gets worse, move on. Find peace that you tried. Illnesses come and go, healing is in how we choose to deal with it. All the best.

      over 8 years ago
    • Bashiemn's Avatar

      My husband has tried to help me with more around the house and lightening my load so that I can get through this, but he has not been there for me emotionally or physically.

      Since I was diagnosed, I have felt very much alone in my fight against cancer. At first when I was diagnosed and scared, not knowing how the treatment was working, I tried to talk to him and tell him how scared I was and he wouldn't let me talk about it or wouldn't talk to me about it at all. I have tried many times to express my concerns with the fact that I feel so alone, but nothing changes.
      Sometimes I really just wish he would hug me or hold me, or show me that he cares, but he doesn't.
      He wasn't like that before the cancer either - I guess after all is said and done, I just wished or hoped that this would be a wake up call to him as well...

      over 8 years ago
    • shhwee's Avatar

      I dunno about spouses, but when I was diagnosed my boyfriend left me for a leggy blond. [lol]

      over 8 years ago
    • lbardos' Avatar

      I had a pretty good marriage before cancer. I am one month away from completing therapy and my husband wants a divorce. He can't stand the changes that cancer and multiple surgeries have done to my body. We have been married for 27 years. Apparently he only married me for better and in health.

      over 8 years ago
    • Bobbiedee's Avatar

      My husband always tells me he loves me but when dr told us I had non Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia in fourth stage I asked how many stages is there and dr said they are only four. I cried but my husband never shed a tear! Even thou he has cried many times before over little things. Dr has told me I wouldn't do good with chemo because I have all the bad markers, I cried, but not my husband. I don't understand how he could not even shed a tear! He just looked at me like oh well.

      over 8 years ago
    • KimmieC's Avatar

      I was married 21 years to the same guy before my cancer diagnosis. About 6 months prior to me being diagnosed, he started wanting to party and stay out on weekends. My dad was terminally ill,and I had 6 kids, four of whom were teens at the time. I thought maybe it was a phase, because I was not able to focus on him. Also, he seemed jealous of our teen children and the attention they received. But things got much calmer after my dad died, a month before I was diagnosed. Then I found out I had cancer. He backed away from me, I could actually feel it. He spent little time at the hospital when I was there, went to only one dr's appointment the whole time, never went to chemo or radiation tx with me. He always used the kids or his job as an excuse, but I knew he had lots of job security, and we had many friends and family who were willing to help with the kids. He would stay out all night about 3 or 4 nights a week, even if I was at my sickest with the post-chemo funk. Three days after my 3rd treatment, he admitted to being with another woman. I tuned him out, felt like if I tried to waste energy dealing with him, I would never beat the cancer. I tried to get a divorce about 6 months after I had finished all my treatment and surgeries, but 2 different lawyers told me I was still too sick and frail-looking, they couldnt promise I would get custody of my children. I was mad at them then, but now, I see they were right. I filed for divorce last July (2011), and it was the most stressful thing I had ever gone through in my life. I couldnt have handled it right after my cancer battle. I am single now, have no savings, no retirement (used it all to pay fo r the divorce and medical bills!), living off mostly my disability check with my 2 youngest children, and we are doing FINE! Here is what I have learned, not just from my husband, but also from a couple of my friends: some people just aren't BIG enough to handle the realities that a scary diagnosis like cancer can bring. That "in sickness and in health" line does not mean much to some. I think a critical event like cancer can truly bring a person's true nature into focus. I am nothing if not a survivor, and I am doing it with a smile on my face. It can intimidate weaker people, obviously. Sorry if I was TOO forthcoming, your question struck a nerve! Hope sharing my story can help you in some way.

      about 8 years ago
    • kajungirltn's Avatar

      No change in him but big change in me. I'm no longer willing to just live with the problems we were having before. I thought this diagnosis might actually bring us closer but it didn't. Now I'm left with having the same if not more stress dumped on me while dealing with the physical and emotional strain of a double mastectomy and reconstruction while he is going bankrupt and living off my short term disability. Needless to say problems don't go away with diagnosis and I'll have to face this once I recover from surgery before chemo

      over 6 years ago

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