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Not only is my husband not sympathetic when I am ill, but he's mean!

Tagged as: Health, Marriage problems<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (30 December 2011) 2 Answers - (Newest, 1 January 2012)
A female United States age 51-59, anonymous writes:

My husband has no sympathy for me when I'm ill. Let me take that one step further, not only is he less than sympathetic, he is a little bit mean. He doesn't yell or anything but makes it very clear that he thinks I'm a hypochondriac and that there is nothing wrong with me.

I agree that I do over-react sometimes but I was raised in a home where there was a lot of serious illness and death. His father died when he was a teen but other than that, he hasn't had to deal with anything like that. I have and I know that people can and do die. Ok, I have had two trips to the ER in the last couple of months. Neither trip was without a good reason. The first time, I was having chest pains. I woke him up and told him I needed help and he was angry. Second time, I had been having severe abdominal pains for a week (one night while having these pains, I was hurting so bad that I was crying). His reaction was to act frustrated and go to bed. Leaving me in pain with no comfort. Then when I finally asked him to take me to the ER a few days later after becoming tired of dealing with the pain, he asked, "Right now?" He was on vacation and I guess just hated to take time out of his day to take me.

I do not understand this atitude toward illness. He's the same way about his mother and one of our daughters in law who is sick alot. He doesn't say anything to them but I hear the comments. He seems to see it as a weakness or something and one that can be avoided. He, himself, hasn't been to the doctor for over 20 years.

Also, he is not a mean person. He is normally very kind and willing to do anything for anyone. When I feel good, he treats me like a queen. When I'm ill, I'm a frustration for him. Why is he like this??

Let me also say that I am the strong one in the family. He can't handle stress at all. I thrive under pressure. When something goes wrong, I am the one who has to handle it.

It would just be nice to be the weak one sometimes and feel appreciated.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (1 January 2012):

"It would just be nice to be the weak one sometimes and feel appreciated."

Does this sentiment affect how you deal with your pain? ...because I suspect this is what at heart irritates him. I'm not doubting that you actually feel pain, but if you feel it more intensely around him and and you are relying on him to address it by taking you to the ER, then perhaps getting better isn't just what you want, perhaps you want him to demonstrate affection.

That ulterior motive and perhaps the fact that he feels emotionally manipulated by your illness is probably what makes him resentful. Given your family history, I would understand if you were raised to think illness might almost put you in a sacred state. In your history, being sick means you've got to worry about that person's immediate mortality...and so you might treat a sick family member as if they were on their funeral bed and indulge all their wishes. Perhaps you've associated that drama of caring with the state of being sick.

But for a lot of other people, being sick is just a part of life... Many people live by the saying "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Or we might see being sick as an indication that we need to change our lifestyle...or wash our hands more often...or not eat at that restaurant again...or at worst, an indication that we have to find the solution to our health problem that we can't get rid of.

If you've been to the ER twice in the past couple months, why not go to a doctor, explaining your symptoms, and ask him to run some tests to figure out what's wrong with you? Going to the ER probably should be your last resort in dealing with pain as it tends to be an expensive and ineffective place to diagnosing people. It's a crisis center, not a hospital....If you were shot and bleeding out, yes, an ER is exactly the place to go. Stomach pains? They are likely going to give you some immodium and try to get you out the door so they can deal with patients with more serious injuries.

Regarding your husband...perhaps ask for other ways he can show you affection while sick rather than taking you to the ER. Ask him the cook for you. Ask him to make you some tea. Ask him to get you the Advil. I would hesitate on asking him to take you to the ER again because when it is a real emergency, he might be slower to respond...

Good luck.

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A male reader, Edgardo Mexico +, writes (31 December 2011):

Edgardo agony auntHello! Well, I'm interested in your question because I faced a similar situation.

As you can see I'm younger than you but I experienced similar "cardiac" symptoms. However, my father found out the real reason behind my "cardiac" symptoms, it was an anxiety/panic attack. He knew because he had experienced them himself when he was quitting alcohol.

It's been two years since that and I'm not 100% healthy even now. However I've worked a lot with my emotions and have gradually felt better. What I'm trying to say is that your symptoms might be due to emotional rather than physical issues. I suggest you consult a psychiatrist even if only to rule out that possibility.

As for your husband, believe it or not, we human beings sometimes take things like this as personal. So he might be feeling that you try to make him feel bad or responsible for your problems by "feeling sick". Unfortunately, there's little you can do about the way he feels or acts except state your feelings clearly. Other than that there's little you can do except work for you own well-being. Good luck!

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