My husband's attitude

I feel really upset, & wonder whether anyone can help? My recent breast cancer was treated with surgery, radiotherapy, & now tamoxifen. I have recovered well physically, but am finding it hard emotionally because of my husband’s insensitivity & self absorption. He felt slightly under the weather today & was convinced he had got flu, even though he has had the jab. He googled to find out what the symptoms would be, & made such a fuss. I said that I had had breast cancer a few weeks ago, & was irritated by his lack of a sense of proportion. He then said, “Ah, but flu is a very nasty thing”. I pointed out that he was very unlikely to have it, & in any case it was hardly like having to face cancer. I know what I would prefer to have had. His only reply to that was, “But flu is very serious!”. I felt insulted & upset by his utter selfishness, especially as he had just eaten the dinner I had cooked for him, & said I felt upset by what he was saying. I felt invalidated & not understood. His only reply to this was, “Flu can be fatal you know”. So can cancer, & far more likely to be, & I’ve had it, & he never said a word about it. All through my cancer experience,  the hardest thing to bear has been my husband’s attitude. 

I am sorry to,hear about your husbands attitude! Flu is very minimal compared to what you have been through!
I think our OH’s find our cancer very difficult to,deal with and mine buries himself in work so that he doesn’t have to think a lot it! I am 2 years down the line but still have some outstanding reconstruction issues. He simply can’t understand why I can’t get a second opinion and get it sorted out. I live in Cyprus and have had my treatment here. There is a total lack of emotional,support here and I have got mine from this forum. It’s good to chat to,other ladies in a similar position. Men aren’t very good at dealing with illness and demand a huge fuss! I have been married for 38 years! I just live from day to,day and plan trips back to the UK to visit our family! (For us both!) I dwell on my cancer more here because I get more time alone!
If you haven’t been married for long you may wish to consider some councilling. Take heart that you are not alone!

Hi Saxon


I finished my treatment about two years ago and I’m in a similar situation, similar age, similar awkward hubby!  It is always easier to look at a problem when you are not so emotionally involved. Your husband moaning about his ‘flu’ must feel damn frustrating and you are responding quite naturally, by feeling cross and put out BUT his behaviour is ‘paying off’ because he is getting your attention. In psychological terms it is called positive reinforcement I believe. For example if a kiddy starts misbehaving and you give it a smack it will yelp but hey, mum is taking notice of me at last! The best thing to do when he starts moaning is to ignore him and walk away. I’ve had marital difficulties of my own, believe me. It is never too late and you can change how things are but only by changing the way YOU respond you see. I’ll send you a little PM if that is okay because there are other things I would like to add.

Hi Saxondale. I’m so sorry you have this issue. I married my husband knowing he had badly controlled crohns disease and have supported him through several major ops. We have 3 children the eldest in 23 with severe disabilities needing 24 hour care. I was a stay at home mum but in the last six or seven years returned to work so my DH could go part time then give up altogether. I know for his health he needed to do this but he has constantly taken the mick by doing nothing at all around the house and everything has always revolved around him. Now my kids are older they say to me he treats me with no respect whatsoever. This is from what they’ve observed as I have said anything to them.
It’s fair to say hen I found my lump he refused to be worried as our GP had said he would be flabbergasted if it was anything serious. He was shocked to the core when it came back as cancer and was almost in tears when he saw me after the op all doped up saying it made him realise how much he loved me. BUT!!! about three years ago we had a wider family crisis (his family) and it caused so much tension he left for one night and moved in with his mother and dad. He was begging to come home. In the 36 hours he was gone I realised l no longer gave a monkeys and felt quite liberated. Going back to work has been the making of me I am no longer reliant on him for any kind of life. I am very lucky in that I love my job. He doesn’t understand my commitment as he hated his job but that’s his issue.
Our marriage now works in as much as he knows I’m happy for him to leave and be on my own with the kids. He doesn’t want to leave so we kind of do our own things whilst still being a couple if that makes sense. Him knowing he doesn’t get to me has made things so much better. I agree with the fact by getting cross you are giving him attention so he’s getting what he wants. It’s hard to ignore when they’re being complete idiots but there comes a time when you realise you shouldn’t have to point out that you’re I’ll and if you do have to are you with the right person? I know that’s a very idealistic point of view but now, more than any other time in your life you need to think of yourself first. Sorry I’ve rambled on. Much love xx

Sorry I’ve no idea where Saxondale came from? My phone insists you are called that!!

I do understand and am also aware what a huge and scary hit it is for men when their wife gets cancer. We still bring up little boys to be men who have to " fix things". They can get on with stuff during acute treatment ( apologies if I’m generalising wildly) but afterwards they are left , like us with fears and other emotions. They can’t fix this for us. My husband found a book called " Breast cancer husband" which he found tremendously helpful. He does still get flu and I continue to be unsympathetic. Sometimes I catch him with red rimmed eyes, terrified by the possibility that cancer could come back and take me with it.
Also, sometimes when we feel helpless, we strike out at the very thing that makes you feel helpless.
I don’t know if any of this rambling is of any help…

I am in the same place 5 years down the line. I have asked, begged, cajoled, and even taken his hand in mine. Nothing has worked. We now have a roommate marriage. If I ask him to hold hands he buys me gloves. If I ask for a hug he a spa. He refuses to speak about anything other than his work or the children. He refuses counseling. I survived cancer but not this. If your husband is still talking there may be hope. If he refuses to talk or is nasty or abusive it may be time for outside help. Best wishes to you all!

Your experience is helping me. Thank you.