3. Men are uncomfortable with caregiving.
Yeah, so. It’s true that men aren’t as socially-connected as women. They don’t turn to others where they can get emotional relief from the rigors of caring for a sick spouse. They don’t seek help from friends and family with all that overwhelms them: the kids, the cooking, the cleaning, the family finances, the doctor visits, assisting their partner, the worry and uncertainty besides earning the money to make it all happen. I empathize, I really do. Uh, so because a man’s uncomfortable asking for help (or directions) it’s okay not to? When did that become a rule? Being on the other end, watching your partner be overwhelmed and being unable to help…that’s a bummer, too. When David’s doing much more than his part, my heart breaks (‘course when he doesn’t meet my expectations about that, my heart breaks for a different reason.) Sticking with the before-illness-life-plan fits about as well as my size 8′s do now.
4. Men can’t learn.
The biggest implication is that men are men and that’s that. Not in them to be caregivers, so don’t expect help ’cause it’s like asking a possum to herd sheep. Won’t happen. I think that the men who leave women who become sick need some serious counseling to unwrap their reasons for running. And that goes for the women, too, if for no other reason than to avoid making more poor life choices. That some men leave can be a reflection of the relationship’s health in the first place;some grocery bags fall apart the more stuff you put in them.
Most of the men who leave weren’t partner material in the first place — Right On! The saddest part is that women who are left behind suffer greater depression and experience more profound effects on their illness. They spend more time in the hospital and less time practicing self-care in general.
Many men do stay. If you want a demonstration of what commitment in a relationship looks like, here it is. Those of us whose relationships succeed consider visible or invisible disabilities/chronic illness as another part of their lives together.