On the brink of Divorce

Does anyone have experience of being on the brink of Divorce, please? I’ve been living with secondary breast cancer for the last 3 years, in the bone. I seem to dip in and out of remission, but it’s only going one way, we all know that. The thing is, I still feel like I have a lot to offer, there are projects that I want to start & see-through (with a contingency plan, of course). The terrible thing about our situation is the uncertainty - will we be alive in 5-10-15 years’ time. Personally, I’d like to see my children grow up into young adults, if I could hope for just one thing, that would be it. My husband, however, who I was with for 14 months before I was diagnosed the first time, see’s my life ‘as over’. He’s gone from verbally telling all his friends and family that he’ll do anything to support me (summer 2018 secondary diagnosis) , to tapping out of our relationship (+6 months) to being utterly abusive behind closed doors 2020-21. Screaming, yelling, punching walls, blasting through locked doors, and shoving me against a wall (bruises for the record), all of which he denies’s. Covid has been miserable, and unhelpful at best. It was so revolting that I booked myself into the Priory in Feb 2021 for a month, just to get away from him - I didn’t want to move into rented accommodation, as it would look like I was leaving the children. And, I never want them to feel that. I’m so torn. Stay and put up with it? Or go through marriage guidance counseling and consider what a divorce would look like, practically and discuss. There’s no talking to him, that’s for sure. It’s like living with Jekyll and HydeHe - the kindness and empathy chip are missing. My thoughts are-  If we divorce I’ll break the children’s hearts, (and I can’t do that especially when I feel like they’re already going to face enough unwarranted adversity). And yet, if I stay, I need to assign myself to a loveless marriage and deny myself of the physical healing that a loving relationship could provide. The chances, however, of someone wanting to be involved with someone who has stage 4 cancer seems not impossible, but extremely unlikely. I’m terrified of being and managing my illness plus the children alone. That’s not to say I couldn’t, it just feels like an incredibly lonely and hard task.  I’m looking at my life not quite knowing how I got here - but I know that I need to move forward. If anyone has any wisdom that they’re willing to share, I’d be most grateful. Life feels hard enough, without adding on a divorce, despite it being in my (personal) best interests. Is he right, is my life over, am I just dreaming? I’m a romantic but also a realist, perhaps it’s not possible to be both? Perhaps stoicism is the key in this instance and focussing on the children will bring the greatest pleasure. My heart and mind constantly pull in the direction of regret - regret of not leaving (on my death bed). And yet if I do leave, and my life unravels, even more, I’ll feel like a stupid b’tch. That’s the pinch point - which way does a person jump when they’re unhappy in their marriage and have stage 4? It’s so much more complicated than, should I stay or should I go? Please tell me your thoughts, I’m so curious, thank you so much!! 

Hi Dani

What a difficult situation for you. I’d like to think your husband’s behaviour is the result of his anxiety and fear but what you describe is domestic abuse, for which there should be (but rarely is) zero tolerance. A tiny part of me empathises with your husband. Mine can see nothing but incipient death for me. He waits when I return from each appointment and, after I’ve told him all the progress, he still asks ‘When will there be good news?” I know it’s in line with his personality but his attitude is so different from my one-day-at-a-time approach where I just don’t think about the future. I’m taking him with me tomorrow so the oncologist can talk to him (he always asks how he’s coping!).

Your husband is wrong. You could live as long a life as you might have without cancer. I’m always on the look-out and the longest survivor with SBC that I’ve encountered is 22 years and going strong! So don’t fall for his trope. He needs re-educating. Do you have a Maggie’s within reach? If you do, it would be a good idea to pop in and have a talk with one of their counsellors. See what they suggest, because you won’t be the first facing this awful situation. Alternatively you could ring the nurses here and see if they can help.

Coping without support and separating your children from their father are two huge factors that muddy the waters and I think professional guidance has to be your starting point. It may be that he agrees to talk with someone and sort out his feelings regarding your diagnosis. In other circumstances, I’d say go. My friend remained in her abusive marriage for the sake of the children and it breaks my heart to see the damage it did to my goddaughter, who, in her early 30s now, is still hurt and far too cynical. There’s so much to think about, you really can’t do it on your own.

i hope you manage to sort out what’s best for you and your children. Maybe someone will reply to you with a potential solution. Take care

Jan xx

Hi Dani

I feel for you. Sending hugs to you and your children.

I put up with so much because I have 3 children- then teenagers - prior to my cancer diagnosis.

Eventually I went for a divorce after the physical abuse started on my son as well as me- I had enough. In my opinion life is too short for anyone to put up with it. Your life as well as your children’s lives are so precious no matter how long we may live.

I am sure that there may be lots of stressful reasons for the abuse but not 1 good enough reason.

I wish you well, and trust that you get great advice moving forward.

30 years on, yes my life has been challenging but I am never afraid to open my front door when I arrive home.