Common for husband's feelings to change?

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Question from LDurand: My wife and I are having a pretty rough go at things these days. I've gone to doctor's appointments with her and all her chemo treatments, but I haven't been there emotionally for her. She's changed a lot these past months and I feel like a jerk, but I'm not sure I still love her like I used to. Is this common? Is this it for our marriage?
Answers - Marc Silver When someone says they're not there emotionally for their partner that can be really devastating when she's facing a disease like breast cancer. I think it's common for a guy, including me, to feel like a jerk because we don't know how to help our wife. I know some marriages do flounder because of breast cancer, but others grow stronger. I think it's important to ask your wife what she needs from you. It may be a sympathetic ear. It may be a massage. It may be someone she can cry to when she's feeling really bad. And what I found in our marriage is that being by my wife's side throughout her breast cancer ordeal really did bring us closer together.
Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W. It's possible that this is a situation that has arisen because of the lack of communication. It's easy to understand that the patient is feeling different, is not entirely sure her husband will continue to care for her, and is behaving differently than anything he has ever seen. Because of this, he may be unable to be there emotionally, he may feel shut out, and feel that the marriage has changed.

These two people need to begin to talk to each other. To say how they feel, and, as Marc suggested, to ask what they expect of each other. Breast cancer rarely destroys a marriage that was working well before the diagnosis. So whatever coping techniques a couple used before the diagnosis, they have to work hard to maintain now.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Partners, Loved Ones, Caregivers: Taking Care of You featured Author Marc Silver and moderator Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W. answering your questions about how you can take care of your loved one and yourself during and after breast cancer treatment.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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