How do you leave someone who has a serious illness?



Dr. Dar Hawks

“I’ve been married for 25 years to a man who was my high school sweetheart. This relationship has been very hard on me. I think we got married for the wrong reasons, yet we stayed together because we ended up having children right away. We’ve always had arguments and disagreements and it’s been one challenge after another. It seems like we really did have other dreams for what we wanted in life.

I’ve been learning about having a vision for my life and creating a plan to achieve it. I want to leave this relationship. I’m not happy. I’m tired of trying. I want to go and live my dreams before
it’s too late. Our children are both in college. But, there’s another issue which complicates things. He’s been dealing with cancer for the past 5 years. He has a negative attitude about everything, including his health. I just don’t want to spend any more of my valuable life dealing with this. Sometimes I feel like he blames me for his health issues.

My children are completely understanding of my position. They see what’s going on and while they love us both, they do want me to be happy. How do I leave someone with an illness like this without making it look like I’m a bad person – or without feeling guilty? What do I do?

Dr. Dar says:

It sounds like you are really clear that this relationship has not been right for you from the beginning.  It also is clear that you have the support of your children to make the right choice(s) for yourself.

There are always reasons to stay; the children, the illness, etc.

I ask you to consider the following:

·What you are worried about if you do choose to leave?  Are these worries worth the cost of your happiness and life aspirations?

·Who will think you are a bad person?  Does this individual impact your life to such an extent to give up on your happiness?

·Who are you worried about disappointing?  Is this person more important than you and your happiness?

·What has you feeling guilty?  Would you have felt guilty if you had left before his illness?  What if you left when the children were young?  Is guilt what has kept you in this marriage?  If so, then maybe it is time to make a different choice, claim your personal power, and move forward with whatever happens?

·Has your husband consistently been negative attitude, even before his illness?  How about when you were seeing each other, prior to marriage?  It sounds like you were aware of the red flags early on in the relationship and married anyway per your acknowledgement regarding marrying for the wrong reasons.  If this is the case in your heart and soul, it does not sound as though you should feel guilty.  It sounds as though you are acknowledging your journey, your choice, and now need to make a different choice for yourself and for him.

·I’d also like you to consider one critical point.  Consider that staying the marriage may not be helping your husband heal or become well.  Not that you are making him ill; if there is no peace, joy, or harmony in the marriage now, then how can someone who is ill focus on getting well when the marriage is such a drain on you as well as him?

Consider that you making the right choice for yourself, your health, and your well-being ultimately will be the right choice for everyone involved as long as you stay strong, assured of your choice, and focus on seeing that the right choice for you will end up being the right choice for all those who are directly or indirectly impacted, even if they do not see it or acknowledge it immediately. “

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