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Relationship Issues

The man I'm in love with is a great man. He is exactly what I have ever wanted.
But I'm finding that my chronic pain and just my situation in general has created a large chasm in our relationship. Yes, he does take me to the doctor and to the store, but he does nothing to help me around the house. He leaves dirty plates in the sink that he could easily rinse off and put in the dishwasher so that I don't have to bend. The laundry is left to me, the cooking, the cleaning, everything. I find myself becoming miserable because our relationship was so great before my back problem worsened. Now I feel like everything he does annoys me.
An event just before now is a perfect example. Living in Georgia, we are able to shoot in our backyard because of the amount of land that we live on. He recently bought a new gun, and believe me, I understand his excitement. I was having problems trying to get the vacuum to work and asked for his help, but he was so absorbed in shooting the gun for the first time that I got completely ignored. I'm just very angry that he couldn't see my struggle and that it got pushed to the side. I don't ask him to do much, if anything, and yet he couldn't take one minute to help me resolve my problem.
Writing this, I'm realizing more that I may be depressed.Sorry for the rant, but thanks for listening.


  • Have you sat down with your spouse/partner and told him specifically that you need his help? And given him specific examples? I know that I am not someone who it is easy for me to ask for help , instead I have made the mistake of thinking that my children or spouse should see that I need help, and do it. In their defense, I am fiercely independant, and stubborn at times to a fault when it comes to doing things for myself, and they all know it.....so they thought that I would ask for help when I needed it and I felt that they should just offer or do it, without my having to ask......so the outcome was one of me resenting their lack of help, and confusion on their part at my anger....
    The only option is to sit down with your partner, and tell him specifically what you need help with and what you expect him to do- rinse his dishes off and put them in the dishwasher- bring the laundry to the washer and dryer, check to see if he needs to do anything before he goes off to do his thing...if that doesn't work, then you need to figure out if this relationship is quite what you need right now.
    Depression goes hand in hand with having a chronic condition, unfortunately and there are several medications that might help alot both with pain and with the depression.
  • In your situation I don't think I would start ordering your old man to start pulling his weight and doing more of the household chores.

    That way you become the quintessential nagging wife and a threat to his (and every man's) ambition of having endless uninterrupted fun (I speak as a man). A little reverse psychology is called for. Tell him you would love to join in/watch him shoot and suggest other things he may enjoy but tell him you will have to get some paid help because you can't cope.

    Explain how happy you would be and what wonderful company you would be for him if only you didn't have to suffer as you are now. Even go as far as to contact an agency and get itemized quotes for the cost of home help

    Once he sees how much this additional expense is going to impact on his indulgences he is likely to suggest that HE rather than a paid helper is all you need. You have now got his full attention and you can outline just what help you need round the house and you can watch with pleasure as he volunteers himself for each of the chores you are struggling with.

    Well that's the theory, anyway.

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
  • I'm sorry you're having a hard time with basic tasks. I can relate, and it's not easy to ask for help. I think you need to be honest with him and tell him what you need help with. I think it would really help if you give him options and not just demand he do it all. Chronic pain is really stressful on our partners too. Like the other commenter said, I think you could suggest either paying someone to do some of the tasks (ex. I could hire our friend and pay him/her $15 an hour to help out a few hours a week) or ask a family member (s) to donate a few hours a week to you. It sucks that the two of you have to go through this and I bet he is frustrated too, so I think it would really help to acknowledge this and encourage him to be open and honest. Good luck!
  • TarenTTaren Posts: 525
    edited 09/28/2013 - 6:24 PM
    with Mick......reverse psychology is the way to go. I don't have to use it much but when I do, it never fails :-) And I'm a firm believer in communication. It ranks right up there with trust. Gotta have both for a good healthy relationship.
  • I know that guns are a strong motivator, but in my caseI utilized a more basic reward. I know this sounds terrible, but it was true. Our sex life has been significantly reduced due to my chronic pain. It is hard to feel like participating in an intimate night when I am feeling so badly. My husband is also very concerned about my pain and would never ask me to be intimate when he knows I don't feel well. One night I said that I might feel more energy and less pain if I had help with the housework. And if I have more energy and less pain I would have more energy to use in a mutually enjoyable way. It did not take long, but now my husband does the housecleaning and the dishes. He just suggested that he could start cooking if I bought more things to grill.
    One caveat... Be willing to accept the level of cleanliness he can get to. My husband does not clean the floors as well as I did and I would like. But I do not say anything but a great big Thank you!
  • I hurt pretty bad but do most of everything that needs to be done. Don't ask me how I replaced 100 feet of stockade fence on my property last spring.

    My wife had cancer surgery in November and I had to put my care completely on a back burner. I had to reschedule an epidural 3 times and other appointments were put off too. So no matter how bad I think I may have it, my wife is in worse shape than me but she's making improvements.

    I find ways to make things easier for myself. I put things where I can pick them up without making pain worse. I'll do wash in smaller batches more often. I'm up earlier than anyone else and I don't leave the house until the kitchen is presentable and the cat is fed. And I clean the snow off my wife's car so she can go to work with less hassle.

    Diagnosis: Thoracic facet syndrome & cervical and thoracic radiculopathy from car accident trauma.
  • I don't think reverse psychology is the way to get your husband to help, just talk with him. My husband has to assist a lot around the house since my pain has gotten worse, and really I don't think he knew what I could or couldn't do. I do feel like a burden to him, which we have also talked about. He has been great, but it is still something I struggle with. I feel that I am not contributing. When I feel this way, I talk to him about it again. He reminds me of the way he feels I help.
    2000- spinal fusion, complete spine due to scoliosis
    2012- pain began, started treatment for chronic pain
    2013- install of pain pump, procedures to address complications
    2014-blood patch, spinal fluid leak
  • So so sorry to hear about your situation and I hope it changes soon for you.
    Everyone has given you great advice and hopefully it will work for you.
    My husband changed completely when I got hurt and no matter what I tried
    he is still one of the most selfish people I have ever met. People wonder
    why I stay in this marriage well financially and the fact that my kids and
    Grandkids adore him.
    Before my accident I did it all housework, painting, grocery shopping on and
    on and he loved that. I made a lot of money if fact he always bragged he
    could just stay home. I cried and still do but in private and if he sees that
    I am angry he will do whatever but then the next day it goes back to the same
    old thing. I tried the hiring guys to fix the house he just complained of the job
    they did, boy did that backfire. So sorry I have zero room to complain
    if I allow it and remain in this relationship I have no one to blame but myself.
    Miss the way it was though before I got hurt.
    I hope this man will look at the one he loves and step up.
    Take care
  • Have you tried some of the above advice in your relationship? It's hard enough to be in pain, but adding relationship problems on top of it only makes it harder.
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • I just wanted to add, people react to stressful situations automatically....they fall back on a default, one that often is the worst response. Wife, feeling depressed, complains in a sad tone that she needs help, husband is also stressed and responds with a need to escape. Both parties need to talk and accept each other, talk about alternative responses, but the main part is to recognize the bad response is not due to poor feelings...its simply a bad response.
  • We often talk here about the chronic pain journey, the stages of grief, the depression & mourning on the road to acceptance. Our partners aren't just along for the ride. They are sharing this often tragic journey with us. Their lives have forever been changed too. In the past I've travelled too far in my own sad little head & it took a lot to recognize that my path had become a selfish one in my perceived selflessness. Not wishing to burden or hurt my loved ones I created their side of the story in my own imagination.

    I remembered when I first met my husband, watching dawn break after a long nights of talking about everything & nothing. No preconceived notions clouding our learning of eachother. No anger or resentment. When your partner talks to you, it's not time for you to construct your response, it's time for you to listen & hear what they're saying. Those long dark nights will be a little longer & a lot bleaker without that oh so familiar breathing beside you.
    It's painful & sometimes tragically true that chronic pain changes who we are for better or worse...even just living, year in, year out shapes us. We are not the same people we were in our youth. "Until death us do part" is a bloody long time to exist in the same home with the same person if it just doesn't work anymore. One thing that all of my health problems has reminded me is life is too short to waste those precious moments being miserable...
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Well said!
    I've always said we must think of our caregivers and what they have to deal with.
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 06/17/2014 - 5:07 AM
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 06/17/2014 - 6:17 AM
    What a well written, and well balanced post.
  • Any kind of adversity makes some couples pull together & others fall apart. It's a sad statistic that most couples separate after the death of a child, if anything my parents are even closer since the death of my brother. After over 50 years of marriage that's really saying something. I'm a romantic & like to believe that love can conquer & endure anything but I know it's often not the case.

    With chronic pain it's easy for resentment to build on both sides. Miscommunication can be toxic. I know I'm sometimes guilty of looking for a convenient place to throw my anger...I've made a mountain out of a sock or two on the floor on a few occasions!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Very true Aaron, even if you remove the first sentence! That's marriage...
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • My chronic pain has put quite a lot of pressure on my relationship. I haven't lived with my boyfriend for very long, and my order for bed rest came just in time. Now I haven't been able to bring in money, he has been buying all the groceries, paying all the bills, and really being quite considerate. However sometimes, it really gets on his nerves and I sometimes have to let him just get it out. He gets really mad when he has to make dinner after work, but he gets mad when I try to make it because I can't help but make those annoying pain noises. He gets really mad when I eat all the food during the day, but when he's being nice he tells me he bought it all for me! He gets mad about the bills and money, but when he's being nice he tells me not to worry. He gets really mad sometimes, and then after I let him vent, he calms down and apologizes.

    What really makes this difficult is the affect it's having on our sex life. We are both sexual people, and with my condition I really can't do it at all. I have to constantly remind him that it is really not possible, and we often go to bed feeling cranky, which means I don't really get any affection at all.

    They don't understand that this pain is real sometimes. Because we've gotten used to it, we have gotten more silent and complacent with the pain. Sometimes when I say "ow!", He says "what's wrong?", because the chronic pain has just become like white noise to me, I only show my pain when it's a twinge, or maybe I should say a lightning bolt. I think they sincerely forget.

    It's very isolating, you feel like you have to be in pain AND take responsibility to hold up the relationship. I don't know how to ask him for just a simple back rub, or just reassurance that it's okay. When he does that (rarely) I fall asleep with a smile on my face again.
  • Oh Suzy I really feel for you. It must be so hard. I know I'm fortunate that I've been with my husband for so long. All new relationships have growing pains but like everything in life chronic pain adds its own cruel twist to things. It sucks doesn't it?

    I do what I can, when I can. I can imagine how he feels sometimes, we all bring work problems home with us. I think you already know he's not really mad because you've eaten food or not cooked dinner..it's just a bad day talking. When I'm feeling fragile I can be so over sensitive... There are occasions when I'm sobbing in the bedroom, thinking my husband has reached the end of his rope but when we talk about it he can't even remember what he's said to upset me! Relationships!! ;-)

    Were you guys dating long before you moved in together? Did you know eachother before your pain started? As I said, I think it's easier for us because we've been through so much before my spine started really interfering with our life. We've got 2 little kids & that changes romantic life nearly as much as spine damage! We've talked on the forum a few times about how chronic pain wrecks our sex lives. You're not alone, we all loose out in the bedroom. My only advise is grab the opportunity when you can! There will be lower pain days, or at least hours here & there. Intimacy can take many forms & it's important to try to keep those fires burning the best you can.

    You're young, don't let chronic pain rob you of too much. The 'Beast' can drag us into that dark place where everything seems futile, problems insurmountable but with a little imagination & a lot of communication we can reinvent our lives to work for us. As I said, I do what I can when I can. Your partner seems like a generally understanding guy. I'm sure he'll appreciate the effort it takes for you to do things & he will appreciate it. Maybe if you prepare a special meal at your leisure during the day (when he's not there to hear your pain noises!) you'll get a special back rub! ;-)

    Please remember you're not alone.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
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