When you live with a serious illness – and a bad marriage

18 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I can’t quite get over a University of Rochester study that predicted 83% of happily married women will still be alive 15 years after cardiac bypass surgery, versus only 28% of women in unhappy marriages.*  Researchers suggest that supportive spouses may help by encouraging healthy behaviour, like increasing exercise, healthy eating or quitting smoking – critical to longterm survival from heart disease, as well as providing a powerful reason for women to “stick around so they can stay in the relationship that they like.”  Researchers also cited earlier studies showing that people with lower hostility in their marriages have less of the kind of inflammation that is linked to heart disease.

What about unhappily married women? Just being married is not in itself a guarantee that women will be supported by their spouses during recuperation from chronic illness. The prognosis, for women particularly, seems directly linked to marriage quality. What, for example, do you think the future holds for the cardiac health of the women who shared the following stories of their marriages?**  

1.  “There are times that I think my husband feels resentment toward me because since I’ve become ill, everything will fall on him – like helping the kids with homework, giving baths, cleaning, and cooking. When laundry stacks up or dishes are filling the sink, he will get frustrated and make comments. I’ve given him the big “F— off” and told him that he can either be supportive and I’ll get to things when I can, or he can continue doing it all on his own.”

2.  “My marriage was really not that great when I got sick. I had been unhappy for a long time and my husband had sent some pretty heavy hints that he could care less if I live or die. I woke him up at 3 a.m. one morning and told him I was having a lot of chest pain and needed to be taken to the E.R. He got up, took a shower, ate breakfast – then said he was ready to take me. The entire time I was waiting on him, writhing in pain and wondering what the hell he was doing. I was thinking maybe he wanted me to code so he could just go back to sleep. If I get through this alive, I don’t think my marriage will survive. You tell me how much this man loves me or even likes me. I have a 9-year old daughter and a very, very unhappy marriage.”

 3.   “I feel very alone in my illness. I understand that what my husband says is emotionally damaging to me. I am jealous when my friends have a little cold, and talk about how well their husbands take care of them during it. This is my second marriage. Divorce is hard, but it’s not impossible. That being said, you have to decide what you can and cannot live with. Certainly if there is psychological abuse, it could move to physical abuse. My last husband was very abusive psychologically, and I knew if I stayed it would end violently for one of us.”  

4.  “I am married to the meanest man on earth. It was not always this way, we have been married 10 years, my second marriage.  It was love at first sight, we were so good for so long. He does not even resemble the man I loved so much. We are working on a divorce, but it is next to impossible as we have some acreage and animals I invested in. We were ready to start settling when I got sick. So, I am alone with a shell of the person who was the man of my dreams. I have no other option but to stay here – I won’t live in my car.”

5.  “I have a spouse who doesn’t understand the extent of my medical situations because they cannot be seen. He is less than supportive on my filing for disability benefits, and says I am lazy and simply do not want to work or contribute financially. He uses abusive language with me and is overall intimidating. These are all forms of psychological abuse and I know this. The other night, he threatened to leave me and cut off my medical insurance and threatened I ought not even try for alimony. I have entered into therapy for myself and am hoping to learn some coping mechanisms. He first agreed he would go to marriage counseling with me, then he changed his mind because he “refuses to be dictated to.” I’m not sure I can emotionally deal with this any longer.  We are still together, but I am a lot smarter now, and I don’t think of him as a husband but as a roommate. I no longer question him about his comings and goings. I guess I still don’t want to be in a house alone. I want to go, but afraid of that also.

6.  “My husband has been unable to be a supportive spouse for me since the very beginning of this journey. He did not stay with me the night of my diagnosis, and he has rarely accompanied me to doctor’s appointments or treatments. He stays away from me most of the time, sleeps in another bed, and spends most of his non-working hours sleeping. My supportive friends are extremely angry with my husband and are encouraging me to leave him. This is a second marriage for us – we’ve been married eight years. I am very torn.”

A 2009 study on “partner abandonment” among married couples conducted at the University of Washington in Seattle found that men are six times more likely to leave a relationship because of their partner’s serious illness than wives are.

Wouldn’t the prospect of being on her own after a divorce be even worse for a woman living with a serious illness than staying in an unhappy marriage? 

Not according to a recent U.K. study of 10,000 people over a 20-year period, published in the journal Economica. It suggests that in general, women are much more content than men after divorce – even more so than their baseline level of happiness throughout their lives. Study author Dr. Yannis Georgellis of the Centre for Research in Employment, Skills and Society at Kingston Business School explained:

“In the study, we took into account the fact that divorce can sometimes have a negative financial impact on women, but despite that it still makes them much happier than men.”

As I’ve written previously here, my own non-professional advice to these women and any others struggling with both a chronic diagnosis and a toxic relationship:

“Bottom line: this guy is killing you on the installment plan.

“Save yourself.

“Get out now while you still have the strength to leave.”

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*  King, Kathleen B.; Reis, Harry T. “Marriage and long-term survival after coronary artery bypass grafting”. Health Psychology, Vol 31(1), Jan 2012, 55-62. doi: 10.1037/a0025061

** Source:  Some identifying details about these heart patients have been edited to protect their privacy.

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See also:

Q: Why do you think these women remain in such marriages?

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44 Responses to “When you live with a serious illness – and a bad marriage”

  1. Carol August 2, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    I’ve been sick since 2011 or so but in June of this year 2017 I was told that I needed surgery on my neck. My husband left me two days before I found out I needed surgery. I was devastated and when my neurosurgeon said I needed that surgery I had assumed my husband would be there for me all of the way. He was there and didn’t think that they should have released me that next day. I went home with him yelling at me that night at home and he left the next day. He’s not been back since.

    I then lost thirty pounds in three weeks and went to the emergency room for help. That saved my life. I spent five days in the hospital and my husband did not show up. The hospital transferred me to a rehab hospital and I stayed there until I got my strength back and could eat mechanical soft food. Turned out the right side of my throat is paralyzed. I was there for a week or so and no the husband never showed up. On the day of my discharge my husband refused to help me get home so that’s when the rehab hospital paid for me to take a disability cab home. I’m sick most of the time but I have speech therapist and nurses coming out to help me. I have to beg my husband to help me get my medicine and so far he has. But medical appointments I have missed because he won’t help. When does it become criminal what he is doing to me? I go to my disability hearing in two weeks and still need to find a ride there. The husband wants out and he’s saying he doesn’t recognize me as his wife. I want out, but have no money to go. God help me.

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas August 3, 2017 at 5:45 am #

      Carol, you have undergone what sounds like very serious health issues and the only person you should be worrying about now is YOU.

      Your husband (and he is that in name only) has already walked out on you. You need to face that reality and stop hoping that he will somehow turn into a different person and start acting like a “normal” spouse. That is not going to happen.

      I’m alarmed when you say that you have actually missed medical appointments because “he won’t help”. It seems that you have somehow prioritized your own health far below his behaviours. You need to show up for EVERY appointment (and your disability hearing) and you need to accept that hubby is not the one who’s going to drive you there from now on. Ever! What he will or won’t do to help you is irrelevant. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t believe that not agreeing to drive somebody to an appointment is against the law.

      Get on the phone today and start arranging your own rides from now on with neighbours, friends, your community’s local volunteer agency, your church – anybody but him. Start with your nurses and speech therapists – they will have lists of resources to help, including legal aid help to start divorce proceedings. Stop focusing on “what he is doing to me”, which just keeps you stuck in victimhood. You need to wake up, Carol. He is sending you very clear messages that he is already GONE. Why would you waste five more nanoseconds of your life wanting a man like this in your life? Run don’t walk as fast as you can away from him. You can do this, and you’ll be better off for it. Best of luck to you…

      Like

  2. Jason January 4, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

    What about the other side? I’m the husband married to a chronically ill wife who also happens to be bipolar, and all the meds to treat said bipolar disease are ineffective and have untoward side effects on her blood sugars. She’s dependent upon high doses of fentanyl and on a nightly basis she attacks me verbally until I explode verbally back. She has bitten me and hit me with her crutch. I’ve called the cops 3 times and every time she tells them I beat her but they can see through it and tell me they see this erratic behavior from people addicted to pain killers all the time and to get her off the meds and I’ll get my wife back.

    But I’ve tried that at Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and interviewed at Johns Hopkins only to find out all of them could not help her.

    At this point I’m pinning my hopes on an intrathecal pain pump. I’m hoping that if I’m not the conduit to her pain Med supply, she will finally quit seeing me as her enemy.

    Anyway this is my hell and I’m sure my wife’s worse hell. She and I both hope she will just die in her sleep so that if the above surgery is denied or does not work, that suicide will be the only option.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas January 5, 2017 at 4:46 am #

      Thanks for sharing that perspective, Jason. This is your hell – and yet you stay with your wife. You are somehow able to understand that her outbursts towards you are driven by her condition.That alone is a powerful testament to your character. But what are you able to do to protect yourself or seek help to manage your own agony in this situation? Best of luck to you both…

      Like

  3. Laura January 2, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

    I know why I’ve stayed. I have filed for divorce three times and he has dragged his feet been cruel, vindictive, a thief, ruined my credit, lies badly but often.

    I’m NOW forty and have two serious chronic illnesses that keep me from “working” for pay, in the real world. I did work at a computer company for close to three years during our “relationship.” In fact, the very minute that I received my own insurance through this company, he WALKED out of a job that payed him 70k a year bc he was strung out on drugs. I didn’t know he was smoking crack AT work, I simply thought he was high on the meds he always stole from me. I love my children more than anything but I never should have had them. I have two, a seven yr old and a five year old. My seven yr old is Special Needs in that he has severe ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. My roommate of a husband just sucks and for the most part I can’t stand him but I try bc I need help with my kids. He doesn’t contribute much financially. We live like roommates in that way too but I’m the one who provides for the kids and takes care of them and researches my son disabilities and ways to help him. My husband is toxic to me. He’s ruined my credit bc he was in charge of finances after my medically induced coma and it took me time to heal.

    I stay and I’m planning and saving for the future, for my kids. I’m going to provide a safe hospitable environment for my kids by quietly planning the future for the three of us, myself and my children to leave him. I need support from someone. Please say prayers for me to continue to be strong and detached, and smart so we get out alive and quickly.

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas January 3, 2017 at 5:52 am #

      Laura, you don’t need prayers. You need to get out of this mess instead of making excuses to stay with a man who is a “cruel, vindictive, thieving liar” whom you “can’t stand” and does not “contribute financially”. By staying, you are role-modelling this toxic marriage to your children and teaching them what women should put up with. Do you think they don’t see this every day? It seems that you have a choice: you could stay and continue to complain about how awful he is, or you could pack your bags, call your nearest women’s centre or church or county welfare office – and get out today. If you don’t, you’ll be saying exactly the same words a year from now, and two years from now, and two years after that while you are “quietly planning and saving” to leave some fine day. Living with chronic illness is made 1,000 times worse by this kind of marital hell. You deserve better than this, starting now. Good luck to you and your children…

      Like

      • Laura January 3, 2017 at 7:19 am #

        You’re right. You really are. This past year was my last shot at it, or so I told myself. I told myself it was better for my son to have his dad around. I don’t think it was. I don’t know how to mess up their entire worlds AGAIN. I don’t know how I’ll let him have the children overnight for visitation when he’s so impatient with my boy but being in the toxic environment is making me less of a mother and I know it. My husband threatens to take my children away because of my disabilities if we get a divorce and promises that I will lose custody. That scares me to death. I can’t work because of my illnesses but my SSDI is generous because I worked a lot starting at fifteen.

        I put up a good front and refuse, as much as I can, to argue in front of the children. My son is so very sensitive. I know with a bit of belt tightening I could make it in our place on my own. I’ve asked him to leave, but this type of guy doesn’t leave. It will have to be me. I cannot change this man. I can only change myself and how I interact and engage.

        My children deserve to see me be stronger and to know and realize that they should never settle for Anything. My therapist is a huge help. I want to say that I know I am just as much a part of the dysfunction as he, the difference in the two of us is that I’m a fighter and I am dedicated to not only my children but finally MY OWN happiness as well. The shelter where I live has a wait and my family cannot accommodate us, another story entirely. I hope someone can learn from my mistakes, once you’re out, stay out and be patient no matter what, do not let them back because people do not change, relationships do not change unless BOTH people take action before reuniting.

        Wish me luck. I do need prayers, I know that for sure though, for strength, peace and clarity. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Carolyn Thomas January 3, 2017 at 8:21 am #

          You can do this. More walk, and less talk. Child custody is a legal decision; your husband is not the one who determines who gets custody, no matter what he threatens. I frequently hear from women with heartbreaking stories like yours, who have decided to sacrifice their lives and health in order to stay in a soul-destroying marriage. Staying “for the sake of the children” can be a trap: the kids live with both parents, and every day are learning some devastatingly bad lessons about what “normal” marriage is. But I also hear from women who say it was horribly hard to leave, but now say things like “I choose life on my terms now. I don’t need to take care of a cold, unfeeling man. And now I feel so much lighter! If they can’t be empathetic when we’re healthy (and we knew this), then they won’t be there for us when we’re sick.” I do wish you luck, Laura, I honestly do.

          Like

  4. Rebecca Hattem November 4, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    I have a disease that the medical field can’t find only functional doctor can help. Out of pocket. Husband is on disability for arthritis and I can’t get any. Unable to work he left me with no medication, no money, no transportation. I have high neurotransmitters and anorexia plus food and drug allergies. Hydrocephalus and ulcers. I can’t take regular meds. The only meds I can take are for my epilepsy. That was shown in high neurotransmitters. I was bitten by unknown spider 5 years ago and progressively getting worse. I need to see doctor but can’t afford it and I am completely out of my medication. I have to drink Pepsi to help me function and I have panic attacks. I have parasitic and worm infestation. We were drinking and I am not a person that should be drinking but it numbed the stomach pain. He tried to hang himself and I saved him. I had to call perimedics to see if he was okay and they took him away. Now I’m left with nothing. Medication helps me not to seizure. I didn’t take any while I was drinking. But we both had no money. I can’t work, neither can he. I need functional and parasitic doctor. Ibpray every night for us. He left me and he is on a bunch of meds but I am allergic to almost everything. He couldn’t take it anorexia now he won’t come back, he deserted me after I saved his life and I am left with no transportation, money, medicine. I font want to go into seizure, I need help fast. Please help I still love him but he says he is through.

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  5. jd341 October 9, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    I’m too sick to leave, I have a severe balance disorder. Husband makes believe that there is nothing wrong. It’s all in my head.

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas October 10, 2016 at 5:25 am #

      jd341, if you are too sick to leave, you are too sick to stay. Please look into extended care residences and women’s social programs in your area that could help you move into a safer place. Good luck to you…

      Like

  6. Bella September 2, 2016 at 1:15 am #

    I have been with my husband for 16 years. Four years ago he was diagnosed with a rare, incurable spinal disorder, cysts of fluid inside his spinal column, running the whole length, only inches away from his brain stem, basically the exact same condition as Christopher Reeves. I have truly loved him. He’s an angry difficult, selfish man, he is a control freak, and does exactly what he likes. He has not once looked at his condition, he chooses to put his head in the sand and live for the moment. He stays out recklessly drinking and partying till 5, 6 sometimes 11 in the morning, stumbling upstairs as his coordination worsens, does drugs, drives drunk, basically anything to block out the pain!

    I have lost a stone in weight in the past few weeks, panic attacks, fight or flight, chest pain, kidney pain, insomnia, I’m at the end of my tether, desperate to make him understand the risk he is being to himself and me! But still he continues!

    He lies in agony the following few days after, untouchable, crying! I cry with him, but then he’s well again and the cycle continues. My family are alcoholics, with severe mental health issues. My sister will kill herself as she refuses to get help, lying in her mansion after a huge multi million pound divorce; my brother is homeless, sleeping in a car! She refuses to help him. My mother has been into rehab and struggles with mental health and my father is dead, basically I’m drowning in this sorrow of alcohol and illness! I don’t want to abandon him as I don’t want him to hurt alone, but my god I’m being pushed into something and someone I don’t like!

    His body is shutting down on him piece by piece. I honestly don’t understand how he can ignore that. But he does! Dear lord I long for some happiness, for some peace from all this pain, for him, for my family for me! It’s just too much.

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas September 2, 2016 at 11:17 am #

      Oh, Bella. What a tragic scenario you are describing. As soon as possible, please talk to a pastor, a therapist or a counselor (or look into Al-Anon if meetings are available where you live – it’s a terrific family resource for those living with alcoholics) but NOT to talk about how you can change your hubby (YOU CAN’T!) – but how to help yourself manage this reality. And do not EVER get into a car with him when he’s been drinking. If you know he’s about to drive drunk, call the police on him.

      Stop expecting any peace or happiness or changed behaviour from your hubby or your family – instead, you MUST try to take care of yourself. As we say in my family: you just cannot expect a blue-eyed person to have brown eyes, no matter how badly you really want that change. As the first step in Al-Anon warns: “You are powerless over the behaviour of other people”. Good luck to you….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Philly Boy August 25, 2016 at 12:42 am #

    Well, I’m a married man and I came down with colon cancer and had surgery to remove some of my colon. My wife didn’t really care if I lived or died. I have two daughters with her and she explains that she wanted out of this marriage for a long time and so I told her that she can have her wish.

    I have lost everything, the house is gone, so it is everything that we had, and she constantly tells me that I have hurt her deeply. Her family has been in our relationship and her baby daddy also and I have just found out that while I was fighting to stay alive, she went to Myrtle Beach in SC with family and our kids and she posted pictures during her time with her last baby daddy on his Facebook page.

    Really I’m just blown away by what I have seen recently. I tried to get marriage counseling during my bad times and her reply was no so I’m just waiting for my disability benefits to kick in so my divorce will be final next year. At least pray that it will be over after twenty years of marriage. Please advise with helpful information. Thanks.
    A.

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    • Carolyn Thomas August 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

      Hello Philly Boy – just the worst thing to happen when dealing with a traumatic cancer diagnosis and surgery! I’m not a professional therapist, and I’m not sure what kind of “helpful information” you’re seeking now. You can’t unring this bell. It seems that you have agreed to her divorce request, she has refused marriage counseling, and has moved on. My only bit of advice is to seek counseling for yourself with a therapist, pastor or psychologist during this stressful time (and some cancer centres also offer ongoing psychological therapy for patients). You have your two children to think about and they’ll be needing their Dad in their lives. Best of luck to you and your daughters…

      Like

      • G. August 25, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

        Hey Philly Boy
        I was in the same situation. My soon to be ex did nothing while I struggled with cancer and served me with divorce papers almost a year after I beat it

        Thru good therapy I learned it was the best thing to happen to me. My older children and I all live together.
        Try to find somebody to talk to. If you want a non-professional ear, I live near Philadelphia and would be willing to talk with you.

        Like

  8. Joyce Crneck August 14, 2016 at 7:40 pm #

    I have a horrible marriage also, I’ve been supporting this man for the whole duration of this arrangement, had 2 kids with this man. I can’t take it any more. My family knows about the situation, my brother and his wife said LEAVE!!!! All I am is a dollar sign, his family are all users!!

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas August 15, 2016 at 5:36 am #

      So…. why are you choosing to stay in a “horrible marriage”?

      Like

  9. Flora Lunza Strachan August 7, 2016 at 1:58 am #

    Hi I’m a 32 year old Lady who is married to a 46 year old man. Recently got burnt by boiling water on my legs and now admitted in the hospital. My husband does not visit me, he said he wants to divorce. Help me.

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas August 7, 2016 at 4:57 am #

      I’m sorry you find yourself in this situation, Flora. Nobody can tell you what to do, only you can decide if you want to stay with a man who refuses to visit his injured wife in hospital and says he wants to divorce her. While you’re in hospital, ask to speak to the social worker to help you make some practical decisions about your future during this difficult time. Best of luck to you…

      Like

  10. Alice Guelph August 5, 2016 at 8:33 am #

    Such a difficult topic and one I never thought I would have to deal with. I’ve become ill with MS and I’ve caught my husband browsing divorce websites. I don’t know what to do. Our marriage wasn’t great before my diagnosis, but things have just deteriorated.

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas August 5, 2016 at 10:38 am #

      Oh, Alice. What an awful shock. As if you needed one more thing on top of your MS diagnosis! I don’t know you or your hubby (or whether you have kids to consider, or financial issues at stake) so these are just my personal opinions: he might have been having a really bad day if things are deteriorating as you say, and just started Googling (stupidly, on a computer his wife has access to!) and this all actually may mean nothing in the long run.

      Or he might have been thinking about divorce for a long time but has been reluctant to leave a wife living with a serious illness. If he is now getting serious about walking out by gathering information, what you don’t want to do is plead with him to stay – whether you have MS or not. My own first reaction when I read your words was to confront him directly with your discovery of these websites, BUT many experts advise against confronting the “dumper” with evidence if you’re the potential “dumpee”. Dumpers rarely if ever change their intention when confronted (even if they promise they will to make the confrontation go away) and it might just make a poor relationship even worse.

      Your hubby wouldn’t be the first. As the University of Washington study in this post confirmed, men are six times more likely to leave a marriage with a partner who has a serious illness compared to women in the same boat. Meanwhile, you got blindsided by this bombshell. As both research and the comments of real live women living with both a chronic illness and a divorce confirm, however, outcomes are often actually better for those who stop living in a relationship like the one you now describe as “deteriorating”. Please see a professional counsellor, therapist or pastor to help you gain some perspective as you plan your next steps. Best of luck to you…

      Like

    • Chriscross August 16, 2016 at 3:06 am #

      Why not ask him how he’s feeling generally in life, as you’re worried he’s feeling low and you want him to be happy. What would make him happy? Unless it’s horrible stuff, is it something you could reasonably help with.

      If he is definitely going to go, make sure you know every asset there is and what’s in the bank, as well as diaritise his unreasonable behaviour; because if your health is deteriorating, you’re going to need every penny you’ve got just to get by.

      Like

      • Carolyn Thomas August 16, 2016 at 7:13 am #

        I’m guessing that what would make hubby happy is having a wife without MS. Good advice about finances – for ALL women, even those who are perfectly healthy and in solid relationships. I’m appalled by how casually ignorant some women I know are about domestic finance, trusting their partners to somehow “take care” of all that.

        Like

  11. Kristine October 22, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    My question is if I am so sick I cannot work, have applied for disability, have no savings, don’t own a car or house, how exactly am I going to leave a bad marriage? My husband is not abusive but he has lost any interest in me. My parents have already told me they can’t help me if I leave him and that I’m just going to have to be stuck in this marriage. I am very depressed and can’t believe my life has come to this. I’m a good person and always thought I would have someone to cherish me through all my life.

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas October 22, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

      Hello Kristine – there is a cost for every decision, no matter what that decision is. If you decide to leave a “bad marriage”, there will likely be financial consequences of doing so. But if you decide to stay in this marriage, there will be emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual consequences – that in turn may also affect your physical health. Only you can decide which consequences are more unbearable, and which is the decision that might work for you (often in life, it means the choice between two equally unattractive options). Meanwhile, I hope you can seek professional help (a therapist, a pastor, a family physician, etc) to help you manage this depression and disappointment. Best of luck to you…

      Like

    • Stephanie December 17, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

      Kristine, I am in the same situation except I got myself a job that I can handle and luckily for me they understand I’m not physically ok. If you can find some sort of job that you can handle, you will feel better. Also you can look into government programs that will be able to help you with health insurance and low income apartments. Just go to the social services office and let them know your situation.

      I know still being married makes it hard but ask them what you will need to do in order to get on it. Of course divorce will be the first step. He may not be physically abusive but he’s not into the marriage anymore. Last thing you need is for him to slap you with divorce papers without having any money saved or a plan set in place.

      I’m still in my marriage because we have a year lease on our apartment. He pays for mostly everything medical insurance, rent, food. Except my car. I pay for that but I save money on the side & whatever I can get from family I save. I also do side jobs babysitting and such. But now that I know that I have help for me after we split, I am no longer worried about health insurance or a place to live.

      Like

  12. Eve July 22, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Carolyn,
    You have hit the nail on the head. I was in a deteriorating marriage when I had my heart attack 2 1/2 years ago (I actually think that the stress of the marriage contributed to my heart attack in a large way).

    My husband was the most evil type of caregiver, outwardly he was the most caring, worrying about me, telling our friends and family how “he now knew what was really important in life”.

    But there was no caring, even more stress and the emotional and verbal abuse became greater. BTW, we owned a failing business together and financially we are tapped out.

    I eventually went to a woman’s abuse center and they helped me to realize that I, too was in an abusive relationship. He was emotionally, verbally and financially abusive; everything except physically abusive. I endured, went into counseling that truly helped me realize that I wasn’t depressed about my illness, I was depressed about my life. We even tried couples counseling, but he was extremely uncooperative during it.

    Now, 2 1/2 years later, I have filed for divorce, he has left and I am starting over on my own. I have no money, a house that is under water and will have to leave soon and I am trying to get a job (a new career).

    Right now, he’s not supporting me at all, I’m going to the courts to petition for that but don’t expect much if any at all. I let him take mostly everything so my kids (who live with him) will have familiar things around them.

    Starting out all over again is scary but the stress of living with him is GONE and I feel so much more alive than I have felt in years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas July 22, 2013 at 11:18 am #

      Thank you Eve for sharing your story with us. Yours is a tragically common scenario: abusive spouses rarely treat their wives badly when witnesses are around, and so may seem outwardly very caring to other people. It’s crazy-making behaviour. I admire your courage (and others who may be in the same boat that you were in) – women do NOT deserve that. Good luck to you.

      Like

      • gary November 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

        This post was sent to me by a friend. To be honest I read it a few times before deciding to reply.
        I will not waste my time to defend myself. After years of Therapy I have learned that somebody’s perceptions are exactly that – their perceptions. The fact that I was labeled as abusive by a Therapist who heard one side of the story does not bother nor upset me. The fact that she would make such a harsh assessment based in hearing one side of. story snd a bias side at that shows a flaw in her judgement.
        In every case I believe there are two sides to every story. In situations where there are strong emotional issues I actually believe there arr three sides to the story, each parties and the actual truth.
        I appreciate you reading my post

        Like

  13. Facing Cancer Together July 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Whew, those are some startling stats and findings you have shared. Those women’s stories are ache-inducing, and I’m sorry any person needs to endure (and feel trapped within) such hard situations. It’s certainly very interesting to see the rise of happiness, and hopefully that brings encouragement and motivation to those who need it.

    ~ Catherine

    Like

    • Carolyn Thomas July 21, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      Thanks so much for your comment, Catherine. I’m not at all convinced that any woman “needs to endure” misery like that described here, although many seem to believe somehow that they have no other option than to stay. Those who have finally ended such relationships, however, often admit that they wish they’d done it sooner – particularly when they have children who are learning what marriage is all about by watching their parents.

      Like

  14. Happily Remarried July 19, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Reading these comments, I see I was lucky that my first husband showed just how nasty he could be when I had a torn perineum after childbirth and ended up needing two months of bed rest until I healed.

    He kept complaining how all the things he had to do interfered with his workout routine. He also complained about the fact that I went into labor at 2:30 am in the morning and cost him a night’s sleep. As so many women do, I foolishly stayed on for way too many years. Eight years after that time I got divorced. I was single for 14 years, and the second time I married a wonderful guy. I still marvel at what a kind, considerate man he is, and we have been married more than 25 years!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas July 19, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      Wonder why so many women don’t pay attention to those early signs and signals, choosing instead to tolerate intolerable and disrespectful behaviour?

      Dr. Robin Schoenthaler once wrote in a Boston Globe column that, instead of looking for men who like those long romantic walks on the beach at sunset, women would do well to picture how the man of your dreams handles things when you’re sick. In fact, her recommendation for ideal husband material is a man who will hold your purse in the hospital waiting room.

      Congratulations on finally finding that wonderful guy!

      Like

      • Lilith April 1, 2017 at 4:12 am #

        Uh-hah… “a man who holds your purse…” I have such a man and while others witness his concern for me in medical facilities, he treats me like soured milk when no one is around so, you can’t trust appearances.

        Like

        • Carolyn Thomas April 1, 2017 at 4:32 am #

          So Lilith, why do you choose to stay with any man who treats you “like soured milk when no one is around”?

          Like

  15. Rachel Goodwin Juby July 18, 2013 at 5:22 am #

    This a tough one! When my health failed, my 15 year marriage went to hell in a hand basket, He left me with my 3 and 5 year old (at the time) and came home basically to eat and sleep and change clothes. He could not accept it.

    I had always done everything, made his world perfect and when I needed him, he just walked with the basic attitude of “I did not sign up for this” . He was a perfectionist and I simply was not perfect anymore.

    It hurts. Damn It! I gave my best years to this SOB. I really thought after 15 years I was secure with the life that we had. I thought he loved me. This kind of thing is terribly hard on the heart, it is hard on everything in your mind and body and soul. I did not know that a person can cry so much that they dehydrate! It’s true.

    I have been divorced for 7 years. Being divorced is different. People treat you different and my advice is to use humor to get through it. For example, you will always get the ” and what does your husband do?”, “We would be thrilled if you and your husband could join us for dinner”.. then you drop the bomb. “Oh, I don’t have a husband, Can I still come to dinner?”

    Then their voices drop, like they are at funeral and they ask ” Oh Dear, Did he pass?” Ummmm, yeah, he passed me and the kids in the hallway, jumped in his new sports car and buzzed off to vacation with his new love.

    We see him every once in a while and when I do, he looks different to me. Not what I fell in love with, not even anyone I would consider dating. He is no one I want to know under any circumstances. My how time changes things. It makes us take off those rose colored glasses.

    When you reach this point, you have reached “indifference” and it is a great place to be. Because you just don’t give a damn what he thinks anymore. (Actually, you really don’t give a damn what anybody thinks). He has no control (although he will act like he owns you over those child support checks… HE DOES NOT).

    If you are in a situation that is making your health worse, causing stress, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety.. Get the hell out! So, what if you have to simplify and live in a smaller place? So, what if you can’t shop til drop when you get upset? So what ? SIMPLIFY. You may want to start with losing that ZERO and finding a HERO.

    Or, you may just figure out that the HERO is you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn Thomas July 18, 2013 at 5:31 am #

      Hi Rachel – I suspect that there’s nothing like being walked out on with a 3-year old and a 5-year old just because you got sick to make you look at that once-romantic relationship in a whole new light! Take care and good luck to you and your family.

      Like

      • Barbara Keddy July 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

        I too stayed in a bad marriage for 18 years; I was married at 20; I still can’t believe I did such a thing. What did I know? Did not have children till I was 25 but thought that if I had a couple (I ended having 3) it would fix things. Wrong!

        Two years after my divorce, I found my soul mate and he has literally saved my life and sanity. Steady, kind, considerate and will stick with me through thick and thin and believe me this year has been thick, beginning in January with my heart attack.

        When my mother died this week and I began once again having night terrors and panic attacks – thinking I was having another HA, he was/is patient and understanding. After a week of panic attacks, very little sleep and doing so many legal things that have to be done when someone dies, I am hoping for a good night’s sleep so he too can get some rest.

        I understand how privileged I am to have this support. I am happy I left the first marriage, but it wasn’t easy.

        We have now been together for 29 years and I want to tell you all that it is never too late to find a wonderful man, but it is also better to be alone than in a bad marriage.

        Forget the romantic walks on the beach…who needs sand in their toes? The question is… will he cook and clean and take on equal responsibilities and be there if you are the sick one? I am sick and he is well. I am lucky.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dahlia March 21, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

      I really liked your advice to simplify. I was in an abusive marriage for 14 years. He abused my daughter from a previous marriage as well. I was trying to finish my second degree and get CPA license to be financially independent. Also I loved him just too much. And in addition to that, I loved buying clothes, lots of it. If I did not have that habit of buying, I could have left him many years ago. The longer I stayed, the worse my health got. Eventually, I got chronic fatigue syndrome and was on temporary disability when he asked for divorce. It was stressful but I made it through. I am sick again, kidney issue which became chronic because of stress of being married to him, again.

      I only wished I had left him earlier. I do not buy extra things anymore, I am very frugal. While I am sick for a month already, I have savings and I do not have to worry. I can live with less, I do not eat out, I eat simple meals cooked at home, no vacations, no latest fashion, no jewelry, just basic necessities but I am calmer and happier. He became very wealthy, and he is healthy as always. I lost my health because of stress I had during my marriage.

      When I was moving out, I said to myself even if I am to die soon, I would rather die by myself than with him by my side. I even said it to him. I thought whatever time I have left on the earth, I want to spend without him, for better or for worse.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carolyn Thomas March 22, 2016 at 6:10 am #

        Thanks for sharing your story here, Dahlia. Staying with somebody who abuses you and your child because you “loved buying clothes” is almost impossible to comprehend. And then HE asks you for a divorce after you got sick! There is no “better” in the ‘for better or for worse’ in THAT marriage, no matter how you may have convinced yourself to stay with such a person for so long. You are lucky to be rid of him. Best of luck to you in your future…

        Like

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