Question: Dear Luise: MY HUSBAND HAS ALWAYS MADE ME FEEL LIKE I WAS THE CENTER OF HIS LIFE ALWAYS SEEM TO PUT ME FIRST. RECENTLY HIS DAD WAS DIGANOSEDWITH A RARE FORM OF CANCER ABOUT 5 MONTHS AGO. HE LOSS THE BATTLE ANDDIED NOV.4, 2012 A DAY BEFORE MY HUSBAND BIRTHDAY. WELL SINCE THEDEATH, I HAVE FELT LEFT OUT MY FATHER-IN-LAW AND I HAD A GREATRELATIONSHIP. DURING THE ARRANGEMENTS HIS MOM, 2 BROTHERS, MY HUSBAND THEY AGREED TO DO FAMILY PICTURES MY HUSBAND IS THE ONLY ONE THAT IS MARRIED AND THEY DID NOT INCLUDE ME AS FAMILY THEY ONLY USED ONE PICTURE OF MY HUSBAND AND I IN THE VIDEO. I FELT LIKE I WAS LEFT OUT. THEN WHEN WE GOT READY TO GO TO THE CHURCH MY HUSBAND ASKED ME TO GET OUT THE FAMILY CAR THAT THEY ALL WERE RIDING IN BECAUSE THEY ALL WANTED TO RIDE TOGETHER HIS MOM HER SISTER HIS ADOPTED SISTER, HIS YOUNGER SISTER, AND TWO BROTHERS THIS ADOPTED SISTER WAS FROM OUT OF TOWN WHOM I HARDLY KNOW THEN AFTER THE FUNERAL MY HUSBAND HAS BEEN GOING TO HIS MOM HOUSE EVERYDAY SPENDING TIME WITH THEM. THEY HAVE BEEN GOING TO LUNCH TOGETHER GOING THROUGH THEIR DADS THINGS. HIS MOM LIVES AN HOUR DRIVE . IT HAS BEEN ALMOST A WEEK NOW. I AM HAVING SOME HEALTH ISSUES MYSELF NOTHING SERIOUS BUT MY HUSBAND HAS ALWAYS GONE WITH ME TO THE DOCTOR. HE TOLD ME IF IT HAD NOT BEEN HIS DAD AND HIS MOM WANTING THE FAMILY TO SPEND TIME TOGETHER HE WOULD BE THERE. HE TOLD ME TO CALL MY DAUGHTER TO GO WITH WITH ME SINCE SHE WAS ONVACATION.I DONT SEEM TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS FAMILY RIGHT NOW,HE LEAVES EARLY IN THE MORNING TELLING ME HIS MOM WANT THEM THERE BY A CERTAIN TIME, HE COMES BACK LATE AT NIGHT WHEN HE GET HOME HE’S TIRED HE GOES STRAIGHT TO BED WE HAVE NO TIME TOGETHER I KNOW HE HAS LOSS HIS FATHER I HAVE LOST A FATHER-IN-LAW THAT I WAS CLOSE TO HE DONT THINK ITS AFFECTING ME ITS LIKE IM LEFT ALL AONE TO DEAL WITH HIS DEATH AND MY HEALTH ISSUES. AM I WRONG FOR FEELING LIKE THIS? R.
Answer: Dear R.: There are probably as many ways to express grief, as there are people. It’s only been a week but if it continues, long-term, it sounds to me like your husband and his family of origin may be reverting to their original, tight unit in their attempt to get through this. The danger, of course, is that they may remain that way. If I were in your shoes, it would probably look pretty selfish to me, too.
The other side of the coin, as I see it, is that before he seemingly abandoned you this way, your husband babied you and that you have been selfish as well. Children need to have someone go to the doctor with them; adults don’t, unless there’s a huge medical problem that the family has to take on. It sounds incredibly immature, to me.
Your father in law’s death may have altered the dynamics in your relationship to the point that your husband is now babying his mother instead of you. If that is the case, I’d suggest, since your health issues are nothing serious that you take responsibility for yourself. You have the opportunity to do some growing up here and to even become your husband’s partner instead of his dependent. There are dangers built into that, too, however. He may not want it and if he can only cope with one dependent woman at a time, you are going to need to address your issues whether he likes it or not. Blessings, Luise