Taking Care of Someone With Cancer
If your husband has cancer and you are his caregiver, it can feel like a full time job. Most of your focus is on him and his health. When he is feeling fine, it’s such a relief. When he is in pain and feeling bad, it can be really difficult. For him AND for you! When he does things you think are bad for his health, this can be particularly frustrating. You love him and you’re the one taking care of him after all!
If You Do That…
One of my friends who’s husband has cancer was recently confronted with a situation like this. Her husband’s immune system was in a weakened and fragile state and he was basically confined to his home so he wasn’t unnecessary exposed to germs. He had just recovered from a downturn, when he decided to take a walk and potentially expose himself to germs again. She was very frustrated and upset with him for taking such a risk.
So she told him if you get sick again, I’m not nursing you back to health! Fortunately, he didn’t get sick, but what if he had? Would she really not care for him?
Trying To Control…
The fact is, we can’t control other people. We can make requests, but we can’t make them do anything. Sometimes they will comply, but many times they won’t. In those situations, we end up frustrated and angry. Over time, this can often turn into resentment.
When caring for someone who is seriously sick, this is a difficult line to walk. We love them and want to care for them, but we also need to take care of our own physical and emotional health. Where do you draw the line?
This is where setting boundaries comes in. A boundary is a way of taking responsibility for your own physical and emotional health. It is a way of taking care of yourself by deciding what you are and are not willing to do.
For example, perhaps you need to exercise or meditate first thing in morning in order to keep your sanity. Your husband wants you to be there for him first thing in the morning because mornings are difficult for him. If you comply with his request out of a sense of obligation or guilt, you will only end up resenting him. However, if you are honest and tell him you need to have mornings to yourself, that is setting a boundary. By doing this, you will take care of yourself and be able to be there fully for him the rest of the time.
Talking to your husband about where you need to set some boundaries can be a difficult conversation. He may not understand or agree and that’s OK. If you are setting boundaries out of love for yourself and him, it will create a more honest and deeper relationship. By being truthful and taking responsibility for your own emotional health you will be able to be more present and available for your husband at other times.
Where Are You Not Setting Boundaries?
I encourage you to look at your own situation right now and figure out if there are things you are doing out of guilt or obligation. Are you feeling any resentment? If the answer is yes, then those are areas where you are probably not taking care of yourself.
If you want to read more about setting boundaries, check out my other post Placing Boundaries Out Of Love.