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Compassion fatigue where one party is a carer

(46 Posts)
PlayOnWurtz Sat 19-Nov-16 10:12:08

Last night my dh told me he has compassion fatigue and that he can no longer be sympathetic to me when I have a health crash. I am sympathetic to him that looking after me is hard work but I don't stop him doing things he wants to do for himself, the only area I'm perhaps not normal is that I can't do a 50:50 split on the housework so he has to do it all (inspite of the fact I keep saying we should get a cleaner in!)

At the start of our relationship the tables were turned slightly and I supported him through his early recovery from alcoholism however now the shoe is on the other foot he can't seem to reciprocate without setting terms and conditions

How do other couples cope in our situation?

Trifleorbust Sat 19-Nov-16 10:15:48

How awful for you, OP.

What are the implications of this? Is he saying he doesn't feel sorry for you? Is he saying he is no longer going to care for you when your health requires it? If the latter, I would have no choice but to consider the marriage over. I seem to remember something in my vows about 'sickness and health'.

MidnightVelvetthe7th Sat 19-Nov-16 10:16:51

Sorry to hear this.

In your OP there's an undercurrent that he's being unreasonable. Would you be willing to give some details such as how long he has been looking after you, is it years for example? How long have you been together?

PlayOnWurtz Sat 19-Nov-16 10:21:26

We've been together about a decade and I've been unwell for the last 3-4 and had serious mh complications with anxiety and depression the last 2. Much of the mh stuff is mixed up with our infertility issues but also around my physical health.

He says he can do the physical aspect of looking after me - giving me space to rest, looking after dc, doing the housework (albeit begrudgingly), helping me to appointments etc but that he can no longer be sympathetic to me. Sort of treating it like a job he hates.

Thing is I think my mh issues also stem from me not being able to talk to anyone about any of it because he shuts me down as whinging and that I should do as I'm told and rest so I'm left rattling round inside my own head a lot of the time (friends have dropped off the radar completely).

PotteringAlong Sat 19-Nov-16 10:23:49

Honestly? He's sat you down, told you honestly that he's struggling to cope and your first response appears to be "bastard, he should cope".

How long has he been caring for you? I don't think it's the physical split of chores that's the problem here. He's not telling you he physically can't do it, he's saying he's struggling emotionally.

Trifleorbust Sat 19-Nov-16 10:24:50

It sounds as though fatigue is an accurate description of how he is feeling. Unfortunately, assuming you have sought all available treatment, there isn't much you can do about it. As much as we like to think someone will always be there for us in adversity, if that isn't going to be the case, we have to face up to it and start to make back-up plans. I am very sorry to say that I don't think you can rely on him to be there for you.

MidnightVelvetthe7th Sat 19-Nov-16 10:25:45

Oh now that sounds shit!

Has he emotionally detached from you do you think? When you are well does he return to normal?

And maybe you could explain your side as it just sounds like him him him all the time. Bring up your support in his alcohol detox & point out that couples do support each other through it all!

Is it possible for you to reignite friendships?

PotteringAlong Sat 19-Nov-16 10:25:56

Cross posts.

Half of your relationship is a significant amount of time to be dealing with it.

Can you talk to a counsellor? Maybe your DH would just like to be your DH and not have to manage counselling you too?

PlayOnWurtz Sat 19-Nov-16 10:26:17

No my first thought isn't "bastard" my first thought was "how do other couples cope" as in, what can we do to change things

DoneAndDustednow Sat 19-Nov-16 10:27:16

Your MH issues over the last 2 years are mixed up with your infertility issues? So you are trying for another child?

TheNaze73 Sat 19-Nov-16 10:28:41

I get both sides here.

If he feels like this & I think it's purely emotional fatigue, the way I see it, then you may be at the end of the road. I feel for both of you.
It's a positive, that he's been open & not bottled it up, rather than doing anything more upsetting or inappropriate

PlayOnWurtz Sat 19-Nov-16 10:29:09

I would love for him to simply be my dh and not have the dynamic we've developed.

I've had some intensive support from mh services and treatment wise for physical health there isn't anything more to be done I've just got to put up with it.

ocelot7 Sat 19-Nov-16 10:29:40

I agree it would be good to talk to a counsellor as it seems yr DH (& friends) can't cope with that aspect any more. Where I live there are some great MH support activities based on art & creativity - something like that could be fun as well as helpful!.

PlayOnWurtz Sat 19-Nov-16 10:30:42

We have been trying for 4+ years but the last couple of years have burnt me/us out completely so we've honestly pretty much stopped trying iyswim

PlayOnWurtz Sat 19-Nov-16 10:33:45

I'm trying to reignite my hobbies by joining a couple of classes and hopefully friendships will form from those. I don't "do" support groups as the ones I've tried in the past have almost been a competition of who is the sickest and it was utterly depressing.

I think as pp indicated he's probably checked out emotionally from the relationship now. Can that ever be got back?

ElspethFlashman Sat 19-Nov-16 10:36:26

Half your relationship will have a big effect.

I have seen it in my own family. Where the husband did everything appropriately: housework, appointments, personal care, meds etc. but started to really shut down emotionally.

A carer is also a coper.

Sounds like he just can't cope with it any more.

Trifleorbust Sat 19-Nov-16 10:38:01

I'm going to be totally honest (and will probably get flamed) but I am struggling to see how someone who can get to classes to do hobbies on their own cant do any housework whatsoever. I completely appreciate how it can't be 50:50 if there are physical limitations but is there really nothing you can do around the house? Is his resentment coming from a sense that your health condition is exaggerated?

I am so sorry if I am completely off the mark here. flowers

PlayOnWurtz Sat 19-Nov-16 10:41:16

I can see why you think that however my hobbies arent physically demanding. The classes are once a week for an hour and involve sitting down talking.

I work part time

I have a choice each day with the issues I have. I can EITHER go to work OR do the housework OR have a family day OR do the shopping OR walk the dog. I can only do one, not two, not bits of each. All of them involve frequent rest breaks and a lot of pain relief to get through.

I have to prioritise the resources I have

igglu Sat 19-Nov-16 10:41:26

I'm not a carer for my dh but he does have a chronic illness. It is an awful thing to feel but sometimes I do get fed up of him being ill. It is a strain. We can't rely on him being able to go to work all of the time which means full responsibility for main income is on my shoulders. We have dc but he's often too fatigued to do anything with them. I do support him although he would probably say not as much as he thinks I should, but there are only so many words you can say.

I just wanted to give you an idea of how he might be feeling. I can't make any suggestions as the only thing you can do as a couple is get through it.

ElspethFlashman Sat 19-Nov-16 10:43:11

So are the DC his stepchildren?

PlayOnWurtz Sat 19-Nov-16 10:44:59

Yes. The dc are his stepchildren. We do get "time off" from them for want of a better way of putting it

PlayOnWurtz Sat 19-Nov-16 10:45:45

Thank you igglu it's good to see from the other side

Trifleorbust Sat 19-Nov-16 10:48:03

I understand. But it does sound as though an awful lot falls on him (full time work and all the housework?). No obvious solution here other than the hope that love will see you through it. But from what he has said, I wonder whether he is thinking about his options. Sorry to be blunt.

ocelot7 Sat 19-Nov-16 10:48:06

What are yr DHs terms & conditions as mentioned in OP?

Dozer Sat 19-Nov-16 10:48:33

Does he have outside support, eg counselling? When you say he's a carer for you, do you mean personal care or emotional care? does he do all the housework and vast majority of the parenting, or just a bit more than half?

TTC doesn't seem a good idea in the circumstances, sadly.

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