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Marriage over?

Cory77CCory77 Posts: 2
edited 10/13/2014 - 9:47 PM in Depression and Coping
I am 37 and have a torn disc at L5-S1. I am married with three children, ages 2.5, 8 and 11. As if the physical pain wasn't enough, depression kicked in about a year ago once I began experiencing neck pain on top of my back pain. My wife has never been the best at dealing with me when I am sick or in pain. She typically apologizes and says it is because she relies upon me for so much that she doesn't know what to do when I am out of commission. As an example, years ago, I had an appendectomy. While recovering from the surgery, my wife began to get angry at me because it was taking me more than a day or two to get back to normal. The way she handled that experience was to leave me in bed and to disappear all day.

Not surprisingly, at first, she dealt with my back pain in the same way. The last few months have gotten worse. My back crashed in me again while we were on a family vacation at the beach. It happened the second day we were there. Even though I was bed ridden, my wife kept asking me to do things that I would imagine she knew I could not do and then get angry at me when I told her I could not do them. After two more days of dreading waking up, I finally decided to just go home. My wife stayed with our kids, my mom, stepdad, and my sister and her family.

On my way home and when I got home, I cried harder than I think I ever have. I thought about how it might be better for everyone if I was just dead. I eventually calmed down, but then began thinking that the answer was ending our marriage. When she came back with the kids, instead of telling her how I had been feeling, I joked/hinted around at her maybe finding someone new to replace me. I had come up with an entire plan that we would continue to live together while she dated, etc.

Things fell back into as normal of a groove as we've had since my pain began for a little while until both my back and my neck crashed on me two weeks ago. It put me out of work for a week. I needed more time than that, but did not want to get too far behind. I would go to work in extreme pain as I have done many times over the last few years. I would be in tears throughout the day because of the pain. When I came home, I would get in bed. When my wife would see me, the look on her face seemed to be one of disgust and anger. She would make comments like "I don't see how you can work, but you can't do (fill in the blank)." The way she was making me feel hit its peak the other night, and after she left me at home to go drinking with our neighbors, I cried uncontrollably and thought about suicide. Those thoughts only lasted for a few minutes until I snapped back into reality, but then I once again began obsessively thinking about getting divorced.

The next day, she gave me the look again and said something hurtful, so I finally addressed it. I told her that the way she was dealing with this was hurting me. I told her about my thoughts from the night before and told her that I needed her to deal with this better. I told her that if she couldn't, then I couldn't stay with her because it was hurting too much. I asked her if she would consider seeing a therapist like I do to help her cope with living with someone in pain. I asked her if she would consider going to couple's therapy. We both shared a good cry, and she committed to working on it. That was three days ago. Already, the comments and looks have begun again. More subtle this time, but it still stings. I feel hurt, sad, hopeless and angry all at the same time. Part of me just wants to give up on her and leave because I don't think she can change, but part of me feels like I should at least have us jump through the therapy hoops first.

Is my marriage over?


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • There are always at least 2 sides to every story, sometimes not what you think. There are others that have suffered medical issues and dealt with chronic pain that have had relationship issues. Relationships don't always survive chronic pain and medical issues, but sometimes relationships can grow stronger.

    For the person suffering pain, it is hard to realize that your life partner is suffering too. They don't suffer the same, but they do hurt. I am fortunate that my wife treats me fairly well, but not everything is perfect. She knows that the doctor has limited the amount of weight that I am supposed to lift. She takes on tasks that would otherwise be my tasks. She likes to go out on weekends, we used to do that always together. Now she sometimes goes out with her friends. I have to let her deal with these changes in her own way and she tries to deal with my changes.

    When you wife puts you down or make fun of you, you can choose to take her statements at face value or choose to look at them as her way of crying out in pain. My thought is that you should look to how you can help restore health to your marriage. It sounds like you still value your marriage but are fed up with its current direction. Try to redirect the pain that you both feel and turn it towards a positive direction. You may have to strongly acknowledge her pain and open up a discussion on what you can do to move forward together. Try to avoid attacks on the other person. Recognize that not all verbal attacks are real attacks but could be just a way of expressing hurt and pain.

    Good luck, yours is not an easy road. I wish you well and hope you can get things worked out.
  • Cory77CCory77 Posts: 2
    edited 10/14/2014 - 2:52 AM
    Thank you for your thoughts and insight. You are correct. I do still value my marriage and I am fed up with the current direction! I have known that she is in pain as well, but never put the two and two together that her comments might be an expression of her pain. Thank you!
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 10/14/2014 - 4:55 AM
    I have another suggestion or two as well.....look at it from your wife's perspective for a moment......you went from a man who went to work, came home , engaged ( I hope with your four children), ate dinner with the family and participated in caring for the children.....you and your wife, hopefully engaged in conversations, about friends, family, plans, work, your day, her day, coming plans......
    Now, you go to work, come home, don't help nearly as much with the children, at some level, you might even expect for the children to be a little quieter because you hurt and want to rest, family dinners are no more( at least with you sitting there engaged in the chatter that having four children brings), movie watching, entertaining the children, helping bathe, and get them ready for bed is now ALL in her lap.....Her life partner is not her partner, he is in bed, or most of the discussions about each others day are centered around, how much you hurt, or what you can't do .......resentments? Yes, on her side and on yours.....you think that she is not understanding you and your pain levels, and you aren't understanding her side either. She had a husband and a partner, in having these children and the day to day care of them, now she doesn't.....at least not from what you are stating. Instead of doing what you can, and trying a little harder to be involved and engaged , you go to bed. You threw a guilt trip at her, telling her that you are considering suicide because she is not treating you better, but are you treating her and your children well? You told her to go find someone better......how did you think that might make her feel? I would be livid if my husband said that to me.......for any reason.
    Why can't you be more engaged with your family? Sitting at the table/couch or even in bed, helping with homework, teaching your children some responsiblity about chores, and helping out? A wagon to help bring groceries in, so the kids can help to make it easier for mom is a great idea.......Talking with your wife, about things other than your pain levels, planning easy fun, game nights for the kids, or play dates for the kids would all help to ease some of the responsibility on her head at the moment.
    What else are you doing aside from going to bed and resting to lessen or manage your pain levels more effectively? Have you consulted with a doctor about what treatment options there are for your lower back and neck pain? What are the diagnosis? Why aren't you going to physical therapy and or aqua therapy to help lessen the pain and increase your stamina and tolerance? Have you talked to your doctor about other modalities to manage the pain you are having? Have you had surgery to correct the problem? Considered spinal cord stimulation or injections or TENS or making changes that might lead to more involvement with your family and dealing with your depression, on an active basis, taking medications , along with counseling to help you cope?
    Living with chronic pain is no picnic, not for the person with it, nor for the families and loved ones who are also victims of this ....they loose out just as well as we do......Having chronic pain does not absolve us of our responsiblities to our loved ones, nor exempt us from participating in life , especially the lives we helped to create.
  • The little things in life.. The moments with the kids. A hand hold with your wife.. Are the biggest things in the end. This big problem of your back is a no matter if you push it aside. Make it tour goal to get strong mentally and physically and live your best. It may not be what it was. Mourne that. Cry and bury that. You have today. This day to live and live only. Yesterday is over and tomorrow will never come. Thank your wife and love her. Talk about anything but I your back... Ask about her day. Smile through her pig headed responses. She just wants the man she married. Give her something better. Use this crippling backpain to show her how strong you are. You're going to surprise yourself.
    Wake up every day and keep telling yourself that.
  • and if its bad enough the pain will take your life over .no if you let it ,,if will .there is no working through it for some and sometimes you need to re evaluate what you have ,I know that some people can't handle sick people my first wife was one ,we are good friends now ,but I am remarried thankfully .if you're in pain you probably don't want sex ? you want to get comfy and be left alone but still have your family around you .but when it come to going out shopping .picking the kids up from school you don't feel like it .and then the problems start when you can no longer fulfill your obligations ,things you once could do you find that you are no longer able to do them and this can drive you to despair .and sometimes your partner will be less than sympathetic .its a thin line to walk but if your not up for doing things that you once could do and all you want to do is rest .this can wear thin on some ,but there is nothing you can do .I have tried to go with the flow and now my wife doesn't even bother asking me if I want to do ?? she knows that I cant managed it ,living with pain is so hard to do and when you are on drug like morphine or oxycontin or similar .your pain is bad .only you know what you are able to do ,,on a good day you may be able to ;;be a normal family ;; but some days its just you and you pain .I remember the days when I had a ;;window of about 4 hours ;when the pain killers kicked in and I could almost be normal but as times has gone on and this have deteriorated I know I have lost my window and I just do things as and when I can .I don't like it as I am still comparatively young with a family my advice is just do what you can do when you can
    edited 10/30/2014 - 1:56 AM
    Cory77 said:
    Thank you for your thoughts and insight. You are correct. I do still value my marriage and I am fed up with the current direction! I have known that she is in pain as well, but never put the two and two together that her comments might be an expression of her pain. Thank you!
    You are welcome and I wish both of you well. Life is not always easy and frequently takes some work. Hopefully both of you find the strength to work things out so that you can help each other in ways that really count.
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