What Relationship?

Cancer Changes Our Relationship

When we become the primary caregiver for our husband, it changes our relationship with him. What started out as a partnership with give and take become one sided. It often feels like we do all the giving and they do all the taking. It’s not their fault. They are just no longer able to hold up their side. Intimacy with one another becomes less frequent or disappears all together. These changes in our relationship can be unsettling. They are unwelcome, and we may find ourselves feeling a little resentful.

I’m His Nurse, and Not in a Good Way

There were several weeks where my husband was physically in very bad shape. One day at work a coworker, knowing my situation, made the comment that it must be tough on our relationship. Without a thought, I replied, “What relationship? We don’t have one. I’m his nurse.”

It was true. Our relationship as husband and wife had become one of patient and nurse. In that moment I realized I was a little bitter about it.


It can be easy to fall into self pity and even resentment when we become the caregiver. You may feel like you have to take care of him, like you don’t have a choice.

We Have a Choice!

Really though, you do have a choice. You have a choice about all the things you do in your life. There is little, if anything, that you have to do in life. You don’t have to go to work. You choose to because you want to eat and pay your mortgage. You don’t have to pay your taxes. You choose to because you don’t want to go to jail. Many people make the choice not to do those things.

Really let that sink in for a moment. You don’t have to do anything.

Ask Yourself…

Do you want to care for your husband? Ask yourself that question. Then answer truthfully knowing that there is truly nothing you have to do. That is the first step.

Next, ask yourself if you are also caring for YOU? Are you taking care of you?

When we don’t also take responsibility for caring for ourselves, that is when resentment or anger toward our husband will bubble up.

So recognize that being your husband’s caretaker is your choice. But that you also need to know how to take care of yourself. Those two choices may conflict, and that is OK. Sometimes you may not be able to take care of him because you need to tend to your own needs. This can be hard, but you can do hard things!

Come join me and learn more about how to take care of yourself. Sign up here for my new program for women who’s husbands have cancer.

2 thoughts on “What Relationship?

  1. Helpful insights into the caregiver role regardless of relationship.. child for elder parent for example.Thank you for reminder all is choice and self care so important.

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