Is it wrong of me to expect DH to show concern when I'm grieving?

(12 Posts)
SecretSquirrelandMoroccoMole Wed 29-Oct-08 14:36:01

My cousin took her life a year ago, and the anniversary is this week. As well as that 3 other close members of my family have all died in the last 3 years, so as you can imagine death is at the forefront of my mind much of the time.

Now I know that it's a difficult subject to talk about, but I am feeling really hurt by the fact that my DH has never once asked me how I am coping with all of this. Several times over the past year I've burst into tears and he's given me a cuddle, then asked me what he can 'do' to help: by this he means practical things like sorting out legal stuff. There have also been many occasions on which I've told him that I'm really struggling emotionally, to which he gives the same response.

We are struggling financially - but managing as I'm working part time and looking for another job. Over the past year, on many occasions he has repeatedly asked me what I'm doing about finding work - at times when I'm feeling low this makes me feel even more under pressure, and I have told him this. I've also told him how hurtful it is that he doesn't ask me how I am with regard to my family loss. His response was to get defensive - which ends up making it all about him, and not about me at all, and makes me reluctant to broach such a sensitive topic again - or to even tell him when I'm feeling down. It feels as if as long as I'm bringing in the money, he's not too worried if I fall apart.

10 minutes ago we were talking generally and he asked me how I was doing. I said 'with regard to what?' and he said 'well, your job-hunting'. So I told him it was very difficult for me to focus on it since my cousin's anniversary is approaching and that's the only thing on my mind at the moment. He then said 'oh, yeah, I'd forgotten, sorry.' And then carried on making his lunch. That was it. No sympathy or concern.

Bearing in mind he is a lovely man and a wonderful dad, and he even plans to train as a counsellor - which he'd be excellent at. He is not a self-centred alpha male, and I'm sure that he is concerned about how I'm managing, but I don't understand how he can continually fail to show that he's concerned. Am I really expecting too much?

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Thefearlessfreak Wed 29-Oct-08 14:47:02

I think that men really are different than women in this respect - they like to be able to "help" if we are feeling/being emotional. They do deal with emotional matters very differently; in order to "help" they need some sort of tangible, practical thing that will make a difference & have an impact. They aren't so good at the just "chatting" aspect & probably not as spontaneous as women to hug etc etc.

None of this is a slight on men at all ...I just think it's nature & women need to seek that sort of support from women. If you communicate what you need from your DH he sounds like he will respond well. This is IMO of course!

Thefearlessfreak Wed 29-Oct-08 14:47:28

And sorry for your loss squirrel! sad

giddly Wed 29-Oct-08 14:48:31

I'm sorry you feel unsupported. I wonder if he realises how much your cousin's death meant to you? The relationship can be very different for different people - some are like siblings, some very distant. My cousin died some years ago and I have to admit that because I didn't really know her that well, while I was very saddened, I didn't really need to grieve personally IYKWIM. Is he maybe underestimating your feelings because he wasn't particularly close to his cousins?

SecretSquirrelandMoroccoMole Wed 29-Oct-08 14:53:02

Yes I'm certainly familiar with the 'do' vs 'listen' differences between men and women, and I think this is where part of my disappointment lies - DH is also well-versed in that aspect of male/ female life, and has always been the first one to offer support when his friends have needed it. Most of the time I'm strong and capable and just get on with things, but now that I need his help, and have asked him for it in the recent past, I'm left dangling.

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SecretSquirrelandMoroccoMole Wed 29-Oct-08 15:00:41

Giddly, ordinarily I'd say you might be right, but firstly he knows that we grew up together, like sisters; and secondly I have actually told him on several occasions that I'm struggling emotionally because of her loss! I ask myself how much more info does he need?!!

I do wonder whether the fact that he hasn't really encountered death of close relatives might have something to do with it - only his grandparents have died and that was a very long time ago. I am so familiar with family loss that if I meet anyone else in a similar situation I don't need to be told how painful it is.

Honestly, there was a time when I was in tears and he stopped his work, gave me a hug for about 2 minutes, then said 'right, I've got to get back to work now' and that was it. Yes, I know he's earning most of our income and his work and deadlines, etc are important, but he's had a whole bloody year to show concern, and it's just not happening.

I feel as though the only way I can get his attention is to just stop doing everything that I do around the house. No cooking, cleaning, tidying, looking after kids, nothing. Then he might realise that something's amiss. But I'm not that manipulative, so I just wouldn't do that.

(thank you fearless)

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cathcat Wed 29-Oct-08 20:48:03

Hi SSMM, I know where you are coming from. My dad died 5 weeks ago and DH has really been no emotional support at all. He is not an emotional person at all and while he is happy to do practical things he cannot do the emotional part at all.
To be honest, if I had to think about it, I am not sure what it is I want him to do. So I have to accept that his way of caring is to do the practical things, like cook the tea when he can or let me MN lol, and I rely on other people (females!) for the emotional part.
You sound resentful though (and I can understand why) so perhaps you need to tell him what you are feeling about this so he is totally aware of what you are feeling. Communication is the key blah blah, i know it is easier said than done.
I really feel for your losses btw and chat here when you need to.

SecretSquirrelandMoroccoMole Thu 30-Oct-08 21:18:01

Cathcat, you are such a sweetheart and I'm SO very sorry to hear about your father. It is probably still quite raw for you; IME think these things take a very long time before the rawness softens.

I'm also really sorry to hear that your DH is so unable offer you the support that you need. Since we spend more time with them than any other adults, they are the ideal people to help support us emotionally. Yet as both of us have discovered they're anything but!

I think you understand my situation very well; when I first posted on this thread I was wiping away the tears and feeling very low and therefore yes, feeling resentful. Now that I'm now quite so tearful (well, for today anyway) I feel my disappointment less intensely. I think you're right about talking to him again about how I feel, and then like you I should arrange time to talk to my female friends rather than expecting that support from my DH.

I wish you all the very, very best and hope and pray that you are not overwhelmed by grief, that you find a way to deal with it gently and that (unlike me) despite being a mum you are able to take out regular time for yourself so that you can grieve properly.

Thank you so much for your support at a time when you're dealing with so much yourself.


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purpleduck Thu 30-Oct-08 21:40:44

Grief Counselling maybe?

cathcat Fri 31-Oct-08 22:43:36

Puffed up at being called a sweetheart on MN grin!
Hope you are doing okay, I know different days bring different emotions.
Come on the 'Can't bear to see' thread if you like, there are a few of us dealing with the loss of a parent, but you would be most welcome. x

PortofinoPumpkin Fri 31-Oct-08 23:04:06

SecretSquirrel, I'm going to sound awful here and I'm really trying to find a good way to put this......

Reading your post, I understand that you are going through a difficult time, but I can also understand your DH's attitude a bit. It's very, very sad that so many people close to you have died in recent years, but i think you really are dwelling on this too far too much. People do die and it's tragic and we have to get on and manage without them.

It sounds like your husband IS concerned when you're upset but times are hard - he has to work and it seems like it is really necessary that you need to contribute financially too. I do not think that after a year it is unreasonable of him to think that you can focus on something OTHER than your cousin's death - no matter how tragic.

It's tough, but life is a bitch, and you really should be concentrating on looking after your own family, though obviously there's a gap in your life that won't go away so easily. I think you are being a bit unreasonable to expect constant consolation from him. It's great that he gives you a cuddle when you're upset but I think you do need to move on. Maybe some counselling would help?

SecretSquirrelandMoroccoMole Fri 31-Oct-08 23:36:19

Hi Porto,

I understand why you've written what you've written, so don't worry, I'm not taking it badly. Without knowing me you couldn't possibly know what my attitude is towards death.

The fact is that as I've said above, I've had a lot of experience with close family deaths. If I hadn't been pragmatic about it I would certainly have fallen apart by now. When my cousin killed herself it was precisely because I had to look after my family that I've spent the past year buttoning up my feelings and just getting on with things. My DH has been well aware of this - I've made him aware on several occasions. I've told him several times that unless I deal with my own grief properly I won't be able to function in a job, and that he should therefore give me space to sort out my working life in my own time, and not his (we're not even claiming benefits, so we're really not at financial breaking point).

I did try grief counselling, purplecat, and I may possibly try it again - at the time I felt that the counsellor wasn't really a good personality match as she talked more than she listened hmm!

We actually had a conversation about it yesterday and he agreed that he hadn't been there for me in the way that I need, and he apologised for it. Hopefully things will be better than they have been.

Cathcat, thanks so much for your invitation, I might just brave it onto that thread one day. I wish you all the very best.

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