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BeckyMN

My Health And Marriage Issues

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I am at my wits end with this and just thought maybe someone out there could relate or help me. I've been married for 10 years and have three young children. I thought we had a good marriage, but in the last 1.5 years since I've been dealing with my health issues, things have soured. I was so sick for a while and so exhausted that I would fall asleep on the couch most nights by 8 or so, and in the morning, it was all I could do to get breakfast on the table for everyone. My husband was getting very frustrated with me and thought I should just "cheer up". Then, when I went gluten free in January, I felt soooo much better- a new woman. Things between us sort of improved, but now every time I get glutened and feel crappy, or have any aches and pains, he just doesn't want to hear it. I got a terrible headache Friday, and he was upset the whole weekend. Then, I was super achy on Tuesday, so decided to take a bath. He thought it was selfish of me to take time to do that. I keep hoping I'll feel all the way better soon so we won't have this issue. Maybe I just need to vent. Sorry if this is not the right place.

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While we certainly don't know the whole story, what you write describes a very selfish husband. The man could make his own breakfast if you needed more sleep!

My first suggestion would be to stand up for yourself and speak to him. But in order to do that, you need to undersatnd for yourself what it is you are asking for. Do you want him to take over certain tasks when you do not feel well? Do you just want sympathy? Do you want more time? Do you want some combination of those or something else? None of those are unreasonable to ask for in any way, it's just a question of what you need. You also need to be very clear to him what sort of behavior is NOT acceptable to you. And finally, you have to figure out what level of support in general you need from him. Do you want him to understand how you feel? Do you need him to accept how you are feeling unwell? Can you work with him just ignoring it, but not getting upset? Can you work with not talking to him about it (especially in anything other than an informative "I have a headache" statement that is the end of it) as long as he respects it?

It might help you to understand his expectations. Does he expect you to feel well all the time? Does he expect you to ignore not feeling well even when you do? Are either of these acceptable to you? What is "right", "wrong", "fair", and "unfair" is really kind of pointless here - it's what is acceptable to the both of you, and is there any common ground in that?

But, I have a suspicion, from your post, that you will either find it very hard to do this confidently, or that he is unlikely to believe that you have backbone behind your talk. So, I would also like to encourage you two to find a counselor so that there is a third party for you both to work with. (Why do I think this? "get breakfast on the table for everyone", "should just 'cheer up'", "he was upset the whole weekend", "he thought it was selfish of me to take time", and "feel better all the way so we won't have this issue". All of those things lead me to think that you're a people pleaser, and he's either gotten used to it, or always expected to be "the standard setter" and center of the world. This is neither right or wrong, it's just the dynamic you have going between the two of you, and it is sounding like it may no longer be a functional dynamic.)

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I agree. I think the problem is the dh. It's not the celiac or the complaining about how you feel, that's just his excuse. Of course we do have to be careful of how much complaining we do. It does have a snowball effect. Instead you could talk about how much better you are feeling than you did last year. Come and complain to us, we don't mind at all because we've all been there.

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tarnalberry: Wow, nicely done. I was going to chime in, but you already said everything I was going to say!

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It's important to communicate REALLY well with your hubby. It can be so hard for others to truly comprehend what's going on, and especially to grasp how long it takes to recover and become fully functional again. I was diagnosed 3 years ago. Initially my husband seemed very supportive and helpful, but after a while he perceived my lack of energy as lack of interest in the marriage.

While celiac wasn't the only issue we had, it certainly put our marriage to the test, and he left me and our 2 children a year and a half after my diagnosis (and divorced me a year later).

So, be SURE your husband understands what you're going through.

Good luck!

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tarnalberry: Wow, nicely done. I was going to chime in, but you already said everything I was going to say!

:) She is one smart cookie......that's what I was going to say! Very well said, Tiffany.

Becky, I can SOOOOO relate to your exhaustion and relationship frustration. In the year before I was diagnosed (I was 44), I had a very serious relationship with someone I really did want to marry. I was sleeping about 18 hours a day (keeping this a secret from him - we did not live together), and crying constantly - suffering deep depression. My diagnosis came too late for our relationship to be saved, but, I am hopeful you'll be able to stand on solid ground and work things out. Keep getting healthier, and by all means, DO get a an objective third party (counselor) to work through the established patterns, and change things as you become healthier and healthier.

Blessings -

:)

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Thanks guys. :) Let's just say that it came from rather a lot of experience with my husband and I working through our own issues. Celiac wasn't a problem for us, but the vulvar vestibulitis I have, and more than a little computer game playing on his part. Fortunately, we had a lot of working through my own issues to help teach us how to communicate, and then the counselor I saw for the VVS helped us get better at it.

For the OP, this is just evidence that really learning how to communicate is a long process that involves hard work, and some difficult emotions/words/times. I'd say "but it's better when you come out the other side", but it's a path you walk with your partner your whole life, not a doorway you cross and are then done.

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I know what you mean. I don't have celiac but I do have food allergies, diabetes and some other things that were not diagnosed in a timely fashion. My husband does not understand either. I have been accused of being lazy, mentally ill, or even just faking it. It's horrible when someone else doesn't understand.

In the case of my husband, he had some serious medical issues himself in the past few years. That kind of shut him up. Sadly, sometimes that is what it takes.

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Tarnelberry put it very well. I would urge you to see if you can get some counseling together and also perhaps a bit of counseling by yourself. So many times our families see the great response we have from the diet and think that everything is now going to go back to the 'normal' that they want. It sounds like your husband has gotten used to you being the sole 'caretaker' of the family. Does he pitch in to help with anything or does he consider his job his sole responsibility? Mine seemed to want me to be either a maid or his mother and never wanted to work with me on anything. I was never treated as partner and even after I moved out when our kids were young I still had to handle any parenting that took place. If the kids were fighting I got a phone call and even had to call and remind him to feed the kids when they were at his house. The 'Mom is responsible for everything' continued throughout our entire marriage and resulted in my consantly feeling like a failure and seriously effected my selfesteem. If your husband sees you in the same superwoman light it will be hard for him to deal with the days you are not feeling at your best. He needs to learn that your marriage is a partnership and when one is not able to pull the full weight that is normally expected the other partner needs to be able to step in and help out without acting like a baby and pouting about it. Perhaps he doesn't fully understand the impact that celiac has on a person. The diet isn't like an antibiotic that will cure an infection and then all symptoms will be forever gone. We will have bad days, and hopefully as time goes by those bad days will lessen but they will never be forever gone and he needs to accept that and pull his weight in the family. Treating you the way he is treating you is not just bad for your marriage it is bad for the kids. It is teaching them that the only value you have is in what you can physically do in the family and that if you don't do it you are doing something wrong. They should be learning that loving someone means being there in the bad times as well as the good and that people that love each other help each other whenever they can. Hopefully a bit of counseling and perhaps a bit more education on the lifelong effects of this disease can help him understand and solidify your family unit.

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I am in a very similar situation. My health has steadily declined over the last two years. Without going into the gruesome details, my situation is very similar to Becky's. I can honestly say that my biggest issue with my wife is her not recognizing that my health issues are quite real and not an issue of motivation, self pity or depression. I used to be a very robust, active person. I hate it that my wife has to tiptoe around my dietary requirements. I don't like it either. But this is not something that I chose. IT chose me. It would be nice to have that recognition from her. I am quite frustrated at the "rolling eyeballs" I get when I say "I can't eat that". Yes, a little understanding would be nice but I get little to NO support. I feel like I'm a stranger in my own home.

I have been married for 15 years. Unfortunately, there is little love left. Counseling only works if the parties involved give a sh!t. Thanks for the venue to vent, Becky.

Thomas

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Thanks for all the great responses. Tiffany, you're right, I'm a total people pleaser. It worked great for me in the past. I was one of those people with endless energy who loved doing things for others and didn't need much time to myself. I thrived that way. The good old days... Now my body just won't function at that level. The patterns and relationships I had in the past need to change so that I can take care of myself now too. I have suggested counseling to my husband a couple times, and he kind of has blown it off. Maybe I will just arrange something, and if he will go too, great, otherwise I will go alone. I guess I just want to know that he is committed to me "for better or for worse", cuz I'm sure this isn't the only hard thing we'll have to deal with in our marriage. It's an easy thing to promise when you are 23 and crazy in love and think things will be easy and fun forever. He is wonderful when things are all rosy, but really has been a bear to be with when things aren't perfect. You guys have given me lots to think about, and it helps to know that some of you have been there and are getting through it together.

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I have suggested counseling to my husband a couple times, and he kind of has blown it off. Maybe I will just arrange something, and if he will go too, great, otherwise I will go alone.

Good for you! This is awesome! Too many people decide not to go at all if they go alone. Don't get me wrong, it's still a lot of work, because you have to come home and "translate the lesson". My husband also was not thrilled about counseling. He went once on his own (per the psychologist's request) and once with me. After that, he said "I'd REALLY rather not go." (He isn't terribly demonstrative, so this is a significant statement for him.) Now, I'll grant you, it was a sex therapist - the whole point was to go in and talk about how my pain is affecting our sex life and our relationship because of that and how we'd change our sex life (and relationship) to deal with it. Not exactly the thing that most people, let alone men, want to talk to a psychologist, a female one!, about. So, the deal was that he could not go to the sessions as long as he talked with me about what I did talk about in them and carry on the work with me at home. That, he would do. I'm *NOT* saying it's a good solution for everyone, and I expect that it delayed our work more than had he come, but we got there, we learned a lot from it, and it enabled us to both stay involved in the process. It was A solution for US.

I guess I just want to know that he is committed to me "for better or for worse", cuz I'm sure this isn't the only hard thing we'll have to deal with in our marriage.

This is one other thing that I learned through my shrink. "So what?" What if he isn't committed 'for better or worse'? So what? (I'll play the game for you, like I had to at my therapist's office.) So we end up getting divorced! So what? So.... uh, I'd be alone! So what? So... well, I'd have a failed marriage! So what, and why is it solely *your* failure? Uh... well... I don't know. (In your case: it would be hard on the kids! So what, kids can learn to cope with divorce and be just fine? But they wouldn't have a stable, two-person family! So what, is that best for them in this situation?) Etc... you get the point. The idea is, figure out what, at the end of all of this, is frightening you. And then really examine it. Think about what you would do in that situation. Figure out that you would survive, you would get through it, and life might be different, but not bad. Even the worst case scenario would be ok, even if it wasn't great. And then the fear of that worst case scenario happening can't hold your hand over the fire and dictate your actions any more. You can choose them, freely, rather than letting fear choose them.

Yeah, it's hard to say "what if this isn't what I thought? what if he decides to call it quits? what if I'm not enough? what if this marriage isn't enough?" and all the rest of that. But avoiding it definitely NOT healthier. As an added bonus, with a little bit of honestly looking at these things, you'll gain self-confidence. "what if I'm not enough?" "well, maybe I'm not everything, but I'm pretty darn awesome regardless of my flaws. his loss if I'm not enough for him!" :D

He is wonderful when things are all rosy, but really has been a bear to be with when things aren't perfect.

Finally, to give him the benefit of doubt, perhaps he really just doesn't know how to handle bad things. Maybe he feels like he should be doing something, but doesn't know how or what, and so he gets angry at you instead. Maybe he feels scared that things aren't all rosy, and gets angry instead. Anger is a pretty common 'misplacement' of other emotions in people who feel helpless. It's possible that he needs to learn how to deal with these situations that he doesn't have a lot of control of knowledge over, just like you have to learn to drive a car safely or learn to cook good food. Maybe he's just self-centered, maybe he's just used to one very familiar pattern and relies on it, but maybe he's scared of being powerless to help. :)

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Everyone here has awesome advice...

I am just a newly wed...as of June 3rd 2009 :)

Just simply let him know what you are GOING to do and not in a I-don't-know-if-you-will-condone-it type of way. And just do it. If you need a bath, take a nice warm bubbly bath. If you don't feel like cooking breakfast, don't. My theory is (and I'm sure it's no theory) that if you do things you don't feel up to or even have the energy for, you're just going to feel crappy even longer. If you take that time that you need when you need it, you'll recover faster, therefore keeping the amount of tension down.

Maybe "accidently" leave some reading material out on the counter or up on the computer screen...maybe some info about the really serious side affects of this condition. When my husband found out what really goes down when I get glutened he became a lot more understanding.

Maybe just a talk, like everyone has suggested. I don't know, sometimes if I try to "talk" too much my husband just gets frustrated...so that's usually when I just do what I intend on doing..."baby, I really don't feel well...I need to lay down" and just go lay down. If he get's mad, hopefully by the time I get up he'll be over it.

I think counseling in some cases would be positive, but my take is that with most it just causes more tension. I've gathered that from couples I know...it never solved anything for them. However the majority involved cheating and I am NOT going there. The other few were severe OCD and control issues.

I really hope things work out and he can learn to understand better.

Sorry to those whose marriages ended tragically. That is a shame. I hope this doesn't happen to me :(

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Echoing Tiffany, the solution for *my* relationship was counseling. My husband and I were already in a rough place when I got my Dx. We were both willing to work on our marriage, and found a great psychologist to work with us. It took a year to (begin to) get over all our issues, but it was worth it. Open and honest communication are the keys for us. I really hope everything goes the way you need it to. When I get frustrated and feel that my husband doesn't understand; I ask him what he thinks I'm feeling, and then try to explain/correct until he gets a better grasp of what I feel. I also ask what he feels and ask for clarification there so I know where he is coming from.

Hugs

-Daisy

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I also vote for marriage counseling: psychologist. licensed social worker, licensed counselor, or licensed marriage and family therapist. A third person, trained in human dynamics, can be a great interpreter between the two of you. If you find someone good it shouldn't be for a very long time, either. And couples' counseling truly should make things better, not worse (if the relationship isn't too damaged). If you have health insurance and the counseling would directly benefit your mental health, then your insurance would cover it minus any copay or coinsurance you have.

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All I can add is that I hope that your counselor is as perceptive as Tiffany!

Note to Tiffany--have you ever thought of being a counselor????? You're AMAZING! Perhaps we could have a "Dear Tiffany" section???

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Yes, Tiffany, you are very perceptive, and your advice has been a tremendous help to me. I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I found a 6 week marriage builder class at a church starting in January, and believe it or not, my hubby agreed to go. I think he knows there are some issues here. I hope that we are able to open our lines of communication and figure out a way to work together as a couple and a team again. You people are all so great, and I'm happy to have this community. Thank you all.

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Heaven help the son of a gun, that even thinks about getting between me and a bath. It is the ONLY thing that soothes me enough to stop itching and sleep.

I would tell him, not one word about anything you do for personal care.

You don't need his permission.

He has got some selfish, childish issues of his own. I think he needs the help, if he cannot understand illness.

Glad you are going to get some help. Glad I am single. I put up with this kind of stuff for about 30 years with different boyfriends. Life is too short and difficult.

It is hard enough when friends, parents, and siblings don't understand. I would think someone who lives with you could SEE what you go through.

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Awww, thanks guys. You know, when I was a little kid - like six - I wanted to be a psychologist. Everyone thought I was weird. :) (Well, I had seen one when my mom died when I was five, and I really liked her! She let me draw a lot. ;) ) I ended up on a different path, but am coming sort of back to it as a yoga teacher. Not really therapy, but more of a "become connected with yourself" type of thing. I'd like to do yoga therapy at some point (which overlaps yoga asana, yoga philosophy, and some 'therapy'), but my teacher is doing training starting next year... and I don't think finding 10 days away at a time from a four month old (at the start of the two year training) is going to work. ;) Perhaps in a few years, though!

Becky, thanks GREAT that you found something that you guys are both comfortable with and he's agreed to go. Six weeks probably isn't long enough to fix it, but a start is a start, and you can't get anywhere without a start! Awesome! Let us know how it goes!

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