Dying for an answer on August 17, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Help — my relationship of fifteen years is on the rocks because his ex-wife is dying of cancer. He is spending all his time with her at the hospital and won’t talk to me about the situation. I feel totally useless and unloved. Question: should I just hang in there or think about pushing for a resolution from him? We are in our 50’s and have not married due to trying to keep things separate for our kids and the tax benefit these days of being single vs. married.
Yuck. What an uncomfortable and unpleasant situation. Unfortunately, no, I don’t think now’s at all a good time to push for anything, except ways to entertain yourself in his physical/emotional absence. I’m not evaluating or defending the way he’s handling things; I’m just saying that when someone’s going through the [impending] death of a loved one, all behavioral bets are off. I don’t know his personality; it’s possible that he might detach himself just as much were the loved one a relative rather than a LOVED loved one — it’s just that the latter is obviously more unsettling for you. So it’s a bummer, but right now all you can do, grim as it sounds, is wait to see how things shake down after her death. That is, if you really want to stay. I mean, you tell me about this “useless and unloved” feeling: is it bothering you mainly because it’s so wildly uncharacteristic of your relationship, or because it’s a long-standing malignancy that seems to have metastasized? So ultimately, it’s not about waiting vs. pushing. It’s about deciding for yourself what kind of cure you really want to find.
Getting better on April 20, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I lived with a guy for 6 years–in December he FINALLY asked me to marry him. In January, I had a biopsy to confirm whether or not I had cancer, and then he got REALLY weird. A week after the biopsy, and three days before the results, he dumped me. (The old “I love, but am no longer IN LOVE with you” speech!) I think that he just couldn’t deal with the fact that I’m sick, but I can’t really reconcile this, as several years ago he had helped me nurse my grandfather, who was dying of cancer. I can’t quite deal with this. I feel like if he couldn’t love and support me through this, how can I expect someone else to?
We have had little contact with each other since the breakup. He called me several times after he found out about my diagnosis, and was totally sweet–even hinted around about us getting back together. But when I came back to town a few days later to see doctors and talk to him, he acted like he never even said we should talk about getting back together, which he had. After that, I refused to speak to him, and we have divided property and settled everything via e-mail only.
The thing is, he’s obviously a jerk, but I still love him. Any advice?
MSN.com, Match.com, HappenMagazine.com: they’re in a healthy and satisfying 3-way relationship. Meaning that you can find MSN/Match.com’s “Ask Lynn” columns –penned by BG’s alter ego — over at Happen now as well.
This week Lynn advises a gal who has become close with the boyfriend of her friend who died of cancer. Now that its turning romantic, she worries what others will think:
we also have another friend who was best friends with the deceased and she seems upset by the fact that we like each other and are becoming romantic.
Obviously she should be sensitive to the friend’s feelings, but, as her signature puts it, “Do I Have To Lose Him, Too?” Read Lynn’s advice at Happen, then tell us in the comments how you would handle this less than ideal situation.
In a depressing new study—about an already sad topic—oncologists Dr. Marc Chamberlain and Dr. Michael J. Glantz and their colleagues found that women given a dire health diagnosis were more likely to be abandoned by their (male) mates than in the reverse scenario.
If couples are happy before the diagnosis, it appears that men are more likely to abandon wives who become seriously ill. If couples are already troubled before a partner becomes ill, the finding suggests that women in unhappy marriages are less likely to proceed with a divorce if their husbands become ill.
(Same-sex couples were apparently not a part of the study.)
While this plays into many of our society’s worst stereotypes–and women’s worst fears–about non-committal males, perhaps being aware of this research ahead of time will help doctors help couples facing a grim diagnosis and long treatment. Who knows? Maybe men and women who are more conscious of the marriage-challenging stress that lies ahead may be better prepared to deal with it when it happens.