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Relationship was ending but now MIL has cancer. No idea what to do..

(13 Posts)
needachangeofname Sun 19-May-13 10:54:49

My relationship with my P has not been great the past few years since DS was born. For background, have been together (not married, but living together) for 7 years. I have 1 DD (8) from previous relationship, and we have a DS (4). I am 25 and P is 34.

Things have not been good since DS born. I feel my P is irresponsible at times. For example, he leaves all the worrying, organisation and finances to me - he "gives" me half of the bills money, and seems to see it as "my" money, and a pressure rather than families. We earn about the same (ie not very much!) , him VERY full time, me part time, but I earn more per hour than P iyswim so it works out equal.
He works long hours and whilst he DOES plan stuff with us of his own accord like cinema trips and funfairs and camping, he will often finish work and go to his friends or MILs, when I think given his long hours he should be jumping at the chance to spend time with his family.
Also, although he says he loves DD and does outwardly treat her as his own and treats her well and does spend some time with her, he does spend more time alone with DS. I suppose this is only natural as DS is a "son" , and he is the biological child, but it doesn't feel very "family" like to me.
I also resent doing everything, thinking about everything, organising everything. He just goes to work, "gives" half the bill money and does the FUN DAD stuff, meanwhile my life is work - housework and childcare - sleep. I never go out on my own without DC cause I have no childcare but he does, although rarely.
When DS was a baby he was also drinking too much, but did recognise this himself and cut down now he says drinks within the government guidelines. I am quite a mistrustful person by nature, but I do believe this as he does not act, smell, drunk and I never see him drinks more than 2-3 cans of beer ever on 3-4 nights a week, works all day etc (surely his employer would notice). However I've always been anxious over it as I feel now that he has the "tendency" to problem drinking.

I also have my own problems with some depression from past life events although I keep on top of it well and am happy about many things, it has left me not very trusting of people and quite cynical. I also have some health problems (not life threatening). P would say I am difficult to live with, controlling, needing constant reassurance etc.

Recently we have communicated less and less, only about practical things, there is little affection or sex left, and we argue frequently - it can go from zero - 60 in a very short space of time because each of us is defensive - however we don't let it escalate when DC are around (I don't want to, neither does he), so one of us just walks away. However that way things are never resolved. Because we don't get any time together without DC. We have taken to vicious "silent" fights via email on our phones.

It seems so hopeless to me, I feel that although I'm still relatively young, I have changed since I was 18 (!), and grown into the mother role, and I feel like I have in a way wasted my early twenties agonising and arguing and in a shit (for me) relationship. I think it suits him more than it does me, so he wants to stay, whilst I want to leave.

Things have been going towards the "leaving" way for a while now, both of us have had enough of the other I think. Although there is still love there, and obviously shared history, but we are like ships in the night avoiding the elephant-in-the-room of us being all but over.

Now MIL has been diagnosed with lung cancer sad. We haven't always got on, but I am very sad for her and for P who is an only child and she doesn't have a partner, she lives nearby so they are very close. This is separate from the issues above, but obviously changes things enormously. MIL does a lot of the childcare for DS so I am worried how we will cope financially. P is in denial, as is MIL actually, but I fear for him that he won't cope at all. In fact, I know he won't cope at all. His whole life will go down the pan and once the shock wears off I think he will be distraught and unable to cope.

Obviously I don't feel I can leave now. But now, the issues above will just get worse. He won't care a jot about finances or childcare, or seeing DD, or the workings of a family now. Which is understandable. But I really will struggle financially and without any help with childcare at all, doing everything myself and possibly having to step in to help with MIL too.

It may sound cold, but I was about to leave (we were discussing arrangements for dc but he was still saying he didn't want to split, but I didn't believe anything would change so I was leaving - nothing will change now that's for sure) , and now I feel that all that is on hold, I can't do that to him, I need to support him, I do still love him. However I worry that he will start drinking more again, compounding the situation further. I don't have much support for me - a couple of friends, one who lives far away, a sister and dad who could help a little with practical things with DC but who are judgmental and cold, and another sister who's away to uni and won't be here soon.

I worry how I will hold it all together WITH P. I feel I can cope better doing everything myself without the bad relationship and hurt of that hanging over me, but I can't leave now.

I really do feel for P and MIL, although I may sound cold, I just don't know for how long of the illness (inoperable but small and slow growing so prognosis probably years, not months) and the aftermath I can cope with myself, supporting P and doing all childcare, housework and (probably he will give up job now to spend time with MIL, as would I if it were me) all finances too )-:

What to do ???

Sorry for the mammoth post, didn't want to drip feed!

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 19-May-13 11:45:34

There's no real reason why her illness should keep you together. You can still be supportive to him from a different location as a friend rather than a partner. There's rarely a good time to split up and if you wait for that good time you could find several years of your life have slipped miserably by.

needachangeofname Sun 19-May-13 12:02:46

I see that, it would have been better if we had split before this news came out. I don't feel I can do that to him now. But yes, the alternative is basically me being miserable in the relationship for years to come sad.

I think I sound like a cold-hearted bitch, but the fact is the relationship was seriously in trouble and unhappy (for me anyway) long before this happened, and I was winding up to ending it, but not actually taken the final step yet as we had been to a couple of counselling sessions (long wait on the NHS, but when we finally got given sessions I felt I'd given up but thought I owed it to try to go to the sessions, even for amicable break up) , and in these sessions he had "promised" to change things, to be around for our family more, to shoulder more of the practical things etc, so things were up in the air. Basically I was NOT optimistic of him changing these things so I was just WAITING for the NEXT time he for example had hardly been in house for a week cause of long hours, hardly seen dc, yet would choose to spend weekend fishing with his friend or something, then I was going to very firmly and concisely end things. But now (and I know this sounds bad...) he'll have a good reason for being absent mentally and physically, which I think will just carry on long after the illness, bereavement and grieving period, I think that now his failings will just carry on forever, with me miserable, and where do you draw the line ....

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 19-May-13 12:10:34

Doesn't make you cold-hearted. You are not obliged to sacrifice the next years of your life (and as you say, this could go on for a long time) just because he's got problems. Shit happens.... and he's just going to have to cope.

Finola1step Sun 19-May-13 12:19:56

You don't sound cold hearted just realistic. The relationship has run its course. If MIL's diagnosis was that there was very little time left then yes it would be kinder to keep your relationship break up from her. But her diagnosis is very different.

For everyone's sake, make the break sooner rather than later. Give him a deadline by which he needs to have found somewhere else to stay.

Staying with him out of pity is not fair on either of you.

Lweji Sun 19-May-13 12:36:15

TBH, if the prognosis is years, then leave now rather than later.

It could be in a couple of months, so that it's not two big things at the same time.

needachangeofname Sun 19-May-13 12:47:06

Well they don't know exactly yet, only found out about the cancer on Friday.

However they have said it's a slow growing type, and the nodules are still small. No symptoms yet really, as it was found incidentally on a CT for something else non-cancer related, as far as I'm aware most people with lung cancer by the time they have symptoms it's pretty advanced, but this was found incidentally.

The sad thing is, the consultant said it is one of the few cases which could have a chance to be cured by removal of the whole lung. But MIL had other health problems, with the heart etc, that prevent then from being able to do that operation, hence it being inoperable , but the prognosis is not only of months I don't think. At least that is how I understand it from what she said. But you never know in these cases do you? sad.

I am terrified financially. We are both on a low income. If I know P, he will give up his job to spend more time with his mum asap (he has already mentioned it) and therefore be unable to contribute financially. MIL at the moment does all childcare whilst i work for DS who doesn't start school til next Aug (2014). No idea how I'll cope financially. Think the high cost of putting DS in childcare as opposed to just afterschool for DD, would offset what I earn (even with the tax credits help, as far as I'm aware) sad

Kundry Sun 19-May-13 12:51:58

I work with people who have terminal illnesses. If you were go to leave, you should leave. I've seen people hang on because 'it's the right thing to do' and it's just a toxic mess. I'd also say that with lung cancer, the prognosis is very unlikely to be years unless she is very lucky. She may have a letter saying what stage she is - this is easy to check out on Cancer research UK's website if you think she or your DP are being over optimistic.

It sounds like your DP has never really grown up and realised he should manage without his mother - hence visiting so often and trying to get you to mother him by doing all the finances. However this isn't your fault and you can't change him. You can't make someone cope by propping them up either.

I suggest you see if you can find out what her prognosis is. If it is a year or less think about it but remember you may still be stuck in your relationship for a long time while your DP is grieving. I'd try to think of a way to split as quickly as possible and start giving him some warning shots so it doesn't come as a complete surprise to him when you go.

Lweji Sun 19-May-13 12:55:48

Financially, get as much advice as possible and do the calculations.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 19-May-13 13:04:05

I would still continue moving your plans forward with regards to leaving.

His mother is not and cannot be used as glue to bind the two of you still further together.

Springdiva Sun 19-May-13 13:15:28

I wonder if he really will want to spend lots of time with DM - being in company of someone dying of cancer is pretty difficult imv. Perhaps he will not want to do it when the time comes. And he doesn't have a magic wand so her prognosis won't change thanks to him being there all the time.

Dealing with the break up of your marriage might provide a helpful distraction from the illness tbh.

Perhaps you could be put this forward as a 'good' time to separate as you are giving DP lots of free time with DM, though as I said, it might not be that welcome. But at 34 he should be independent of his DM by now.

needachangeofname Sun 19-May-13 13:32:08

Yes, Kundry I think they are being over optimistic. I know the consultant did say it was slow growing, and caught early enough to warrant lung removal (something-ectomy) IF she did not have heart problems and she was at a younger age than she is. However he also said that it is the type most likely to quickly spread (mets). She has had a very extremely painful leg / hip for some time now also, so I am worrying also that it has already spread. She is going for further tests (presumably to look for mets) and also other ones, not sure what (she is evasive but gives more away than P who was at appointment but still totally in denial).

That's exactly it, he has never learned how to grow up without his mum or me propping him up. So I think her passing will hit him harder than most who had properly flown the nest, so to speak. I feel guilty about basically leaving him with no-one. But yes, he should have learned to stand on his own two feet long before the age of 34, and shouldn't have been enabled not to (me too, I've handled everything for an easier life and cause I'm a bit of a control freak!).

I just think he now has the legitimate reason to be somewhat absent physically and mentally and practically from family life for some time. And I know I would be supportive IF he was usually a supportive family man usually and that man would return after however long after the death. But I've had years of him NOT being this man for the family, so it's just likely to get even worse and he will be using this as a reason long after her passing no doubt. I don't want to use up more years of my life being martyr to his problems, propping him up and then at the end of it all I get nothing in return. Realistically he is unlikely to ever change.

needachangeofname Sun 19-May-13 13:35:37

Also, I used to work in a Nursing Home, many of the residents were terminally ill with cancer or COPD, so I know what it looks like, the reality of it. sad

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