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Well Spouse Carer… A ‘complicated’ situation - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

Well Spouse Carer… A ‘complicated’ situation

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Hi All,

Thanks once again for your feedback. I shan’t argue with some of the comments about whether or not this is the most fulfilling of relationships for me (morals aside), and indeed I have struggled with this many times over the past year!

BUT, I recently reached the conclusion there is no value to be gained from focusing on the negatives of the situation and his general lack of availability - if I don’t like it I do have a choice to walk away. So instead I thought I should try and make a concerted effort to adopt a more positive approach where I can better understand the caring role and how this impacts on him as a person, and this was my reason for joining the forum... As Jenny picked up on, I am looking to become part of the solution rather than the problem.

I’m also guessing that care-giver affairs aren’t that unusual, given the demands and stress inherent in the caring role, although perhaps not something which is readily discussed??
Serendipity wrote:I’m also guessing that care-giver affairs aren’t that unusual, given the demands and stress inherent in the caring role, although perhaps not something which is readily discussed??
This has been discussed on here, although I can't find the relevant threads. It doesn't seem to be as common as you think - a lot of guilt is involved (of course), but also, we none of us have flipping time!!
Serendipity - I think a crucial aspect is this. Does his wife know of your existence? If she does, and she is happy with it -and she might very well be - one the most heartbreaking aspects of a marriage in which one party is losing their life is that they might very well be glad that their widow/widower will find a happiness with a new partner, then that might be fine.

But, for me, I think if she doesn't know about you, that is an 'infidelity of the spirit' that this man is committing, irrespective of whether he has any time to actually have an affair!

If you were in her situation, how would you feel I wonder? If, yes, she has given you her 'blessing' so to speak, then good - but if not, don't you think that she might think 'Oh dear God, isn't it bad enough to be as ill as I am, without some other woman muscling in, waiting for me to die so she can get my husband for herself?' (that's putting it the starkest terms alas!)

As I say, it's a very, very difficult situation.
Hi All,

Yes indeed that is a ‘stark’ way of looking at the situation Jenny! Many apologies if my post has offended anyone on here… of course I don’t expect everyone to agree with my situation, but I was merely trying to find a way to best support someone that I (rightly or wrongly) care about.

Best Wishes

Serendipity
Serendipity - it isn't a question of 'offending' - of course you haven't offended - you've been painfully honest about an agonisingly difficult siituation! Of course there aren't easy answers, how cdan there be? The can't be easy answers whenever there's a question of a marrige breaking up, for whatever reason. Not all marriages are 'made in heaven' by any stretch of the imagination, and loads and loads of 'second time arounds' are much, much happier for all parties.

BUT in your particular predicament, the situation is made, to my mind, infinitely worse if the man you care about is nursing a woman who is dying....

I just don't see how it can be otherwise! As I say, his head (to put it not bluntly, but utterly inadqueately!) is not ,and will not be, and cannot be, in a 'good place' when it comes to the emotional relationships in his life.

You've come here - very bravely I feel! (because of the inherently torturous nature of your situation), for which I think you deserve all credit - to find out how best you could support someone you care about, and who is facing a very, very impossibly difficult situation himself.

I do think though, that entertaining the possiblity that the best way to support him might actually be to 'walk away' and leave him to deal with the situation into which his marriage has arrived, until it is long, long over.....

I do think, quite profoundly, and I speak now as a widow who watcdhed her husband die before his time in front of my eyes, that there is only ONE person here who has 'absolute priority' - and that is his wife.

If I have jumped to the right conclusion (and not the wrong one!), then IF we aretalking here about a woman who is dying 'before her time' then do you not think that it is HER needs and desires and priorities that must be given absolute precedence? Maybe I'm speaking rashly, without thinking it through, and maybe, yes, in a way, perhaps it also depends on her prognosis - are we talking months, years, decades, before she dies? The more 'life' she has left to her, then the 'lower' that 'absolute precedence' can come, letting other parties in the situation have some regard as to their own happiness as well.

As I say, it is, without doubt, an incredibly difficult situation, one that all of you involved have to cope with, as best you can. I wish you all well, as well as can be, given the inevitable anguish involved....

Kind regards, Jenny
Serendipity, I will speak frankly. Your post hasn't offended me by the way but I'm sure you realised before posting your situation that some might take offence.

I have re-read it twice. I can't tell see anything alluding to his wife having a terminal illness or something that takes up his time completely, however, from what you have said, I'm assuming you are having a sexual relationship with him? Again, I didn't see anything that would make me assume that he is a put upon carer but rather that someone who chooses not to commit himself to anything other than sex. Please accept my apologies if I have misread your situation but when you speak of "apart from the obvious", that is what it seems you mean?
If there is precious little contact apart from that, no texts or anything else, I don't think he has any intention of having a relationship and it has nothing to do with his caring role. If you are a friend, you can offer your support, it is up to him if he takes that support.
But I wonder what support or understanding it is you want to offer him if you are having a sexual relationship with him? Because you are not supporting him in his caring role, you would be supporting him to cheat on his wife without feeling guilty.

This may seem judgemental but it is related only to your initial question of how to support and understand a carer. There is no one size fits all caring situation but I think it's fair to say that an affair isn't a common thing, for reasons given already. I think another, more pertinent reason is love and respect for those who are cared for.
Hi All,

Sorry for the delay in responding, the days have just run away with me! Thanks for your comments - I will try and answer as best I can:

When this situation began last year his wife was in remission, he was unhappy and had been thinking about leaving (before he even met me). But shortly after it was discovered that the cancer had spread and it has continued to do until fairly recently. After more treatment I believe she is in now in remission again, but I try not to pry too much into the finer details of it all to be honest. In terms of the future I have no clear idea about prognosis… I guess it is likely that it will keep spreading but I’m not certain of this, and if it does my understanding is that it could be years rather than months (to put it bluntly).

Jenny, I agree with you completely that his wife is the top priority and I am most certainly NOT asking/wanting/expecting him to leave her. This situation has evolved from what it was and I’m really not sure that I would have entered into it had I seen then what I know now… although it is always hard to say in hindsight. I try very hard not to be demanding or expect him to put me before her in any way… I agree his loyalty is to her and quite rightly so!

You mentioned walking away and this is something I have tried several times… sometimes selfishly when I get so fed up with it all and don’t see that I have the strength to continue, and sometimes out of concern for him as it is so apparent that things are so very difficult. But it never lasts for long and sooner or later one of us gets back in touch and the cycle starts all over again.

I am not trying to diminish his guilt or respect for his wife in any way by asking how best to support him. Although things may be physical between that doesn’t stop me caring about him and I hope we would continue to be friends even if that element in our relationship ceased to exist.

I don’t know whether this helps clarify things or not…

Serendipity
Hi there

I have a story to tell and would really like to discuss it with you but don't like doing it in a public forum can we chat on email?
Ismene - you can use private messaging on this forum if you want more privacy. Exchanging emails does require quite a high degree of 'trust' between the emailers! (assuming they are using their 'real' email addresses that is, I guess.)

By the way, I love your name - isn't it the name of Antigone's sister in Sophocles' tragedy?
I think I might have some idea how your well spouse carer feels. Before my husband became ill, we had what I can only describe as a marriage which had become loveless, and I became involved with a man who showed me the respect and love I craved.
Since he became ill, my husband has become affectionate and our marriage has blossomed in an emotional way that I never expected.
However my lover of thirteen years is needy and wants his love for me returned. I am no longer in a position to love him back in the way he needs and if we are to remain friends, he will have to back off and accept the fact that things have changed now I am a full time carer for my now-loving husband.
It is unrealistic for my one-time lover (and possibly for you too) to think that there is any "room" for emotion other than the love (be it romantic and/or unconditional) between carer and caree.
I hope this is helpful.