Spouses May Deal Differently


It is not unusual for mothers and fathers to deal differently with their child’s cancer diagnosis, treatment, and its aftermath. This may be an extension of ways you have dealt differently with other previous stresses in your lives. Or it may be that this stress is so big and difficult to deal with that the ways you coped in the past don’t work in this situation. Or it may be that what this means in your day-to-day experiences are quite different: one spouse is suddenly in the hospital all the time and the other is both having to work and take care of the family at home. Perhaps the role of the other person looks easier to you, but, in fact, both are difficult.

In any case, the fact that you and your spouse seem to be out of sync in how you are dealing with your child’s illness is not, in itself, a sign of trouble. However, it may make for problems in your communication and your sense of trust that this is the same person you have relied on for a long time when they don’t seem to be there for you in the same way. It may be important to talk to someone on the hospital psychosocial staff (social worker, psychologist) who has seen and worked with many parents, either individually or together, to find out how to better understand one another. You and your partner need each other now and this doesn’t have to be a big problem if you can each see better what the other person needs and learn how to give it to him or her.


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