really affecting our relationship

My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer 8 weeks ago and it’s really been a terrible roller-coaster of a journey! She has had a lumpectomy and is still to find out if we need to go for chemo or not.
This journey is really affecting our relationship. It first got us very close, we talked a lot and I did my very best to be supportive (she even said just how much this has showed here that I love her) but… I’m doing my best to keep up sprits, trying to be positive, letting her talk about anything she wants to, I’ve been trying so hard to give her the support she needs, but when I mention anything about me she gets very vicious! There have also been some VERY bad times. She is making big changes to her life and it feels like I’m not part of that. She says that sex is of the cards (which I understand in the short term) but saying that the only way she will make love again is if I have a vasectomy, she has done the contraception for too long and it’s my turn! I’m feeling she really would be better off without me as I’m really taking this venom very badly! I love her so much, but it feels like I’m being used and not wanted!
I suppose I’m feeling very upset by this, I’m having to watch my life long partner suffer, I’m very worried about how she is going to react to the drugs and even though I love her so much she is saying so very hurtful things and expecting me to take it! Is this normal? Are there any guys out there that had this?
I’m not sure I can take this for the year of treatment, I really don’t want to leave here but I’m not going to just keep taking this very hurtful stuff! I need her to be loving, intimate and willing to talk about our problems. I could cope with this if she just let me know that she loves me and didn’t just want me for what I can offer her materially.

Hi prefernottosay

Welcome to the BCC forum where I am sure you will find support from other members. While you are waiting for some replies I thought our publication “In it together” might be helpful. I have attached a link:

You might also find it helps to talk things over with one of our helpliners. The opening times are 9-5 on weekdays and 10-2 on Saturdays. The number is 0808 800 6000

Take care

Very best wishes


BCC Moderator

Yes it’s absolutely normal and she’s feeling dreadful at the moment and lashing out at you. She is not thinking straight, she will be going from one emotion (I am going to be all right and beat this to this is going to kill me and take me away from those I love) to another especially at night in the early hours when she might wake up. No matter how close family and friends are they don’t know what to say and sometimes the comments made just push a nerve and really upset. Things like you are going to be fine, it could be worse it could be… All push buttons. You have to be going through this to understand. The jibe about a vasectomy will come from the fact that she might feel that being on the pill has caused this ( read the label in the packet)she might be feeling guilty that she did this to herself and certainly if her cancer is hormone receptive she will want to stop taking it. The idea being that if she can reduce the oestrogen in her body (this is wy tamoxifen is given) as the tamoxifen will hinge on to cancers attracted by oestrogen. So certainly she will be wanting you to take responsibility now rather than putting more chemicals into her body and messi with her hormones. Coming to terms will cancer is an emotional rollercoaster but it will get better and she will come through this. She’s a bit raw at the moment you will need to read the signs carefully and know when to say nothing and just offer a hug, when to slope off and leave her and when to talk to her and reassure that you still love her regardless and you are there and always will be there. I am sure things will improve x

I’ve edited my original response as I was blunt with my views on the first post. However, the general gist was that I wasn’t very impressed with the idea of a husband talking about leaving his wife 8 weeks after her cancer diagnosis because HE was finding it hard going.

Tors, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that x

Well said Tors x

Carrie35, I think you should be awarded the Nobel peace prize for your post above. Meanwhile, I’m following my mothers advice and saying nothing more.

Prehaps at least one of you needs to go to counselling? Your wife is obviously very angry at her cancer and it has either unleashed a lot of issues she’s been holding in, or she’s using the only outlet she can find. She is probably terrified - i know i was - it’s immensly stressfull to be terrified all the time you are awake and the only relief is sleep.

Sadly, it’s more than a few marriages that can’t stand the strain. Maybe a sign that there was far more wrong with those marriages than the illness. Think hard before you use this as an excuse to leave, and if you do, then be honest about the reason and don’t use this as a scapegoat. The only reaction your wife needs to the Vasectomy question is “of course, we’ll go see the Dr…” who would probably suggest leaving it til after her treatment anyway, but would calm your wife and give her the reassurance she’s looking for that you value and respect her. (Your Gp will be able to refer you to the counselling too).

You don’t mention her or your age, or if you already have children or even want any etc. This could all be nagging away at her. How long have you been together? your wife needs you to be her very best friend right now, with no expectation of ANYTHING at all in return. Please be her FRiEND first, and hopefully you’ll be her husband still in future. It IS hard to watch someone you love going through this, but it must be harder still to walk away if indeed, you really do love her?


Goodness 8 weeks since diagnosis and asking if you should leave…I think there is more going on here.
You have to be honest and decide if you are the right person for the job!.. if I was diagnosed and then had to deal with a partner who couldn’t deal with me because I’m viscious with my tongue then I’m sorry to say I would probably be very vicious and tell you to jog on.
Ask yourself these questions

  1. How would I react being told I have cancer? Would you be exactly the same or scared?
  2. Was she always viscious with her tongue before cancer, if she was then why are you still there and if she wasn’t then can you not accept its out of character and cut her a bit of slack?
  3. Sex… Is the last thing on her mind, so have you been pressurising her into having sex, hence her cutting remark you have the snip.
  4. Are you angry that she is not there for you now and you resent her.
    On a positive note you do say ‘we’ for chemo and that does show great support. But to be honest if this is the first time in your marriage you feel unsupported then I think you are going to have to take a lot more sh*t, and if you are already looking for an escape route then you need to leave her so she can arrange for her friends and family to support her.
    I know you are looking for support too, maybe try a male support group, or find a man whose wifewent through this god awful disease and you might then realise its gonna be tough!

I hope she gets the support she needs, and I hope you have the strength to give it to her.

I seem to be in a minority on here when it comes to dealing with the feelings of partners, from this and other threads, and I fullly respect other peoples views, but I do find it sad that so many commenters seem to expect that partners, going through this with them, should automatically be able to suppress all their own feelings of fear, panic, weakness and need for comfort, and rush to judgement on any man (or woman) who is honest enough to admit to their failings and ask for advice.

Yes, we need our partners to support us and be strong when we are feeling so vlunerable , terrifed and demented, particularly in the first few months after diagnosis, with ther terrible physical and mental assault we’re facing, but expecting our partners to be 100% perfect is unrealistic. There are very few saints out there, and expecting your partner suddenly to become a paragon of virtue, and never admit that they are finding it hard to cope, too, seems short-sighted to me.

I admire you for your bravery in coming on here and admitting how desperate you are feeling. Youe wife is obviously feeling a hell of a lot worse, but vicious verbal attacks can be very hard to cope with, and you’re not made of steel. There is a great deal of anger that courses through you in this situation, and it’s only natural that you take it out to some extent on the people who are around you must, but nobody should be expected to become a permanent whipping boy.

My partner has been great - he couldn’t have been better, and I have been very, very lucky. I was desperately worried after I was diagnosed as to how this might affect our relationship, which is only of 2 years’ standing, but I have really tried to remember, even in extremis, that my partner still needs love and affection and looking after, too. He’s not a saint, or a nurse, he’s just a man who’s also been hit with a big, unwanted, shocking life change who’s struggling to do his best, and if he stumbles, I don’t go mental about it. If he needs time to himself to regroup, then fine. If he gets down, then I try and do something nice for him - he’s doing SO MUCH for me, why shouldn’t I do things to make him feel better, too? This whole situation is not just about me - we have a life to live afterwards, a relationship to take forward, and relationships need to be nurtured. Looking after him is in my own best future interests, too. Yes, my needs take priorty for now, but it would be foolish to forget that he continues o have needs, too.If you suddenly make it all about the needs of only one person, over a long period of time, however difficult the situation, then it’s dangerous.

The needs of carers in general, not just in a cancer situation, often get very much neglected, because everything is about the patient, and the patient gets all the attention from other people, while the carer labours on the background, being expected to be on top form because, well, they’re not ill, are they?

But carers can suffer from exhaustion, and depression, and feeling that their lives have been taken by this illness, of whatever nature, too. Our motto as a couple, both in a second marriage, so battle-hardened from our previous mistakes, and both very committed to getting it right this time, is ‘Above all else, be kind to one another’ - which is pretty much the best life rule you can follow in general, I think. Your wife can’t do that right now, for very understandable reasons, and it sounds as if a lot of her anger about the situation is being directed at you; this anot a good situation to be in, and I agree with the poster above who suggested counselling - that could really help both of you in a situation which you need to do something about before it becomes even worse,

I had some counselling for the first time, shortly after being diagnosed, when I was feeling fairly demented and struggling to cope with the fear and anger, and was terrified about how this was going to affect our relationship, and it helped me ENORMOUSLY. I was counselled by someone at the Haven Breast Cancer Support centres, who has counselled innumerable women through breast cancer, and hers was a wise, calm voice that helped me to cope, and helped me to think straight at a time when my mind wasn’t functioning well. I know they also offer support, including counselling, for the partners of people with breast cancer, and I believe the Maggie’s Centres also ofer counselling and courses.

It sounds as if you’re doing your best in a nightmarish situation (and we’re all in a nighmtarish situation), coming on here to ask for help shows that - anand d your best is all you can do. I wish you the very best going forward. I so hope you and your wife can find way to get though this, and come out of the other side together.

Caroline xx

Well said Kevinj I am sure there are a lot o people thinking exactly the same. X x

Reading this thread has made me wierdly grateful that my OH badly broke his leg just 6days after my BC dx. It turned us BOTH into both carer and patient and enabled us to be angry at the world TOGETHER rather than at each other. I don’t think my OH would have coped half so well with my treatments if he hadn’t been able to view them so clearly from my point of view. The opposite is also true - I understood his frustrations better from my new viewpoint too! It also stopped me from leaning on him more than he was able to take!

We repeatedly had to remind each other of the positive things and to remember not to take out our frustrations on each other. Maybe you need to calmly and gently tell your wife that you want to support her, that you are trying your best, but that you are frightened too and that her snapping at you doesn’t help either of you. LET her be angry, scared, frustrated, determined, terrified for the future, upset, mourn her lost femininity, and every other emotion under the sun. She WILL feel them all, but remind her it’s not your fault (OR HERS!) and that you are in it together.

It WILL get better. There is something in the phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and the same goes for relationships! Give each other time and patience.

I wish you both all the best through the hideous experience that is BC. Just remember, you are not alone and the majority of ladies survive BC and continue to live a (slightly altered) healthy life.

deleted as PNTS is not coming back and to be honest my reaction was emotional as I placed myself in mrs pnts and was upset for her.
Am reminded why I dont use the forums so much anymore.
all the best

I can see that I have sparked up some painful transference issues here. I understand that what I said, (whilst feeling totally awful) has upset some people to a point of attack and I’m sorry for that, but none of you know my situation, not of you know just how much I’ve been trying, just how much my wife means to me and how devastated I’m am by this! I may be naive, but I didn’t expect such cutting vicious responses. I suppose I thought I when I posted this to ‘Family, partners and friends’ that I would be talking to supporters (partners) not suffers of this terrible disease, but it appears that all I’ve got was more venom from suffers themselves! Anyway, I can see that this isn’t a place for support and I will not be returning for a kicking whilst I’m down!
That said, many thanks for the few people that did recognise that I’m struggling ( Peachez, Cybele and JCJ) and deep thanks for your kind supportive responses. I’m very grateful for your kindness…

very very sad …its all i can say (my mum also taught me to say nothing if i couldnt say anything nice!)

Have you discussed this forum with your wife? I think it would be good for her to see the comments left by other posts. It may help you to chat about how awful you are both feeling and for her to see that you are needy and vulnerable. If she loves you as deeply as you say you love her then she will forgive you and want to sort everything out. Nobody said this life was going to be easy and the sooner we learn that one the better. Talk to one another, no shouting and swearing, just calm loving thoughts and you will get through this , you just need to be strong together. Take Care Tracy x

I’m glad you amended your reply, (that said I didn’t see the original) but it seems clear that you find more comfort in kicking somebody when they are down than offering some semblance of support. My comment was made in utter despair, I’m finding this very very difficult and your flippant comments only made things worse. After all we are all suffering, aren’t we, please don’t take your anger out on me!

And it is still poor me think about your lady mate sorry you didn’t get the support you expected, let me tell you these ladies support each other and their partners beyond anything you could ever imagine, evryone on this site feels the pain of this disgusting disease and yet still find time to support their fellow sufferers, you my friend need to give your head a shake and grow a pair and stop the self pity.

Do you think your comment is helpful? Just take one moment to think that others are suffering through this desperate journey too!!!f