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How do you deal with a serious illness when the person involved is at least partly responsible?

(57 Posts)
UltimateWednesday Sun 28-Jun-20 11:05:22

DH has been quite ill, no diagnosis yet but lung related.

He was a smoker when young but "gave up" before we married. However, it has become apparently that he's lied about this through most of our 30 year marriage and he's continued to smoke at work and socially.

I really struggle with both the lying and the fact that a man with children would risk his health like this.

So, now I'm facing the prospect of nursing him through something awful (in sickness and in health) whilst "hating" him for bringing it on himself and on us.

I don't hate him and I realise this all sounds very selfish, it's only a small part of many conflicting emotions atm but I'm am really worried about how I will find it in myself not to be vile to him about this.

Also about how our children will cope and how finding out he's been dishonest about smoking will affect them.

OP’s posts: |
FifteenToes Sun 28-Jun-20 11:20:10

How can your intimate partner smoke habitually without you ever noticing it on them?

UltimateWednesday Sun 28-Jun-20 11:24:05

I did notice it periodically and was always persuaded it was a one off. Then there were long periods when he managed to convince me I was imagining it, which is why I'm finding it so difficult to deal with.

OP’s posts: |
GracieLane Sun 28-Jun-20 11:24:16

If you start from the place that smoking is an addiction. That an addiction is a mental illness. That people with mental illnesses deserve sympathy. That this physical illness is a progression of his mental illness. That he's not bad he's sick. That sick people deserve sympathy.

Then you can get annoyed at the tobacco companies and at the horrible illnesses but not at the person, the patient, the victim

LabradorGalore Sun 28-Jun-20 11:25:01

Honestly, there isn’t much you can do about it but blaming him seems pretty strong when it sounds like he was an occasional smoker at most.

Most people do things that could increase their risk of serious illness but taking that angle will only cause further damage to your relationship, while you battle through it.

You’re feelings of anger - really try to look into them. Are you actually really angry at him for occasionally smoking or angry at how this potential diagnosis could change your lives? It may well be displaced anger. It is understandable but your husband needs your love and support if he is to face serious issues. He is the one that will be enduring the treatment and or consequences directly to his body and it will be very difficult for him. Seeing that will also be difficult for you - but blame will only tear you apart.

GracieLane Sun 28-Jun-20 11:25:50

And get some counselling so you have somewhere to vent and process this.

Perfectstorm12 Sun 28-Jun-20 11:28:16

I don't know how you missed this as I find the smell of smoke lingers so strongly but I would find that lie unforgiveable and utterly childish. So I probably wouldn't be able to forgive that initially as my trust would be broken. Be brutally honest with your kids from this point onwards, the continual lie will affect them more than the strength they will see in a honest perspective on the situation. I'm saying that from personal experience from my own childhood, it was the lie that broke me emotionally, not the act itself (different situation, but many lies that impacted our whole family). I don't know how you find a way through that for your kids and for yourself, I would also be concerned about whether or not I would be vile to him due to my own anger and feelings of betrayal. I guess you will just have to take it one step at a time and see what you can work through and what you can't. Good luck.

Hedgehog44 Sun 28-Jun-20 11:29:22

I think you are being really over the top. There are worse things to be in life than a secret smoker - gambler, crackhead, secret sex worker addiction. People can smoke their whole lives and never get a thing wrong with them (my Nan) or be a non smoker and end up with stage 4 lung cancer (my Dad). Look after him and be nice because you are just wasting effort by making yourself more and more bitter.
Your kids won't give a toss that Dad smokes! It's not going to mentally scar them!
I hope you get through this and husband gets better.

Perfectstorm12 Sun 28-Jun-20 11:31:05

Oh I just read what you wrote about him saying you were imagining it. I would get some therapy for yourself so you can process all this. He has been messing with your head too. You need space before you can begin to care or support him. Get that for yourself as a priority and then you can address how you feel about his addictive behaviour.

Embracelife Sun 28-Jun-20 11:31:32

You need some counselling together and separately.
It won't help you or dc to just be angry

ItsSummer Sun 28-Jun-20 11:35:39

Hedgehog44

I think you are being really over the top. There are worse things to be in life than a secret smoker - gambler, crackhead, secret sex worker addiction. People can smoke their whole lives and never get a thing wrong with them (my Nan) or be a non smoker and end up with stage 4 lung cancer (my Dad). Look after him and be nice because you are just wasting effort by making yourself more and more bitter.
Your kids won't give a toss that Dad smokes! It's not going to mentally scar them!
I hope you get through this and husband gets better.

I’d probably be blaming your nan for your dad's stage 4 cancer hmm

Lovelydovey Sun 28-Jun-20 11:35:43

It’s natural. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer 3 weeks ago after 50+ years of smoking. I’m angry that smoking was such an addiction that he was willing to shorten his life and not see his grandchildren grow up. I’m angry that he was diagnosed the day after he retired and all of his and my mums plans for retirement are unlikely to happen. I’m angry that he doesn’t see it this way and is pretending it isn’t happening.

I will eventually get over this. But I’m still angry now. Google the stages of grief, it’s natural to feel this way and everyone moves through the stages on different timelines.

dudsville Sun 28-Jun-20 11:47:34

I think the anger is both reasonable and unhelpful. My stepfather died last year of cancer and was a heavy smoker. His death was drawn out over 3 years and was very painful physically on him, on my family supporting him, and extra painful emotionally as after the first year he got an all clear diagnosis. When it then came back doubly bad it was a terrible blow. We lost a wonderful man who'd been a member of my family since childhood, my mother has suffered so much in his absence. it's emotionally complex. I'm sad but I'm also angry he smoked, I'm devastated for him and the family at his painful end the loss of him. BUT, none of ever expressed this anger to him. His suffering was hideous, he didn't need to feel guilt from us on top of that.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 Sun 28-Jun-20 11:47:43

If your married then you would have made an oath to stay with him " in sickness and in health" . It would be awful to bail on him the minute he got sick.

Did you really not know he's been smoking these last 30 years? I can smell smoke on people and their clothes so unless there is a medical reason I would expect others to be able to smell it too

The lying is irrelevant really. You surely must also have told him a few porkies over the years?

madcatladyforever Sun 28-Jun-20 11:51:08

My husband bailed on me the moment I got sick (not my fault and not self inflicted).
I don't know how anyone can do that to someone they married. Its all kind of wrong.

YaWeeSkitter Sun 28-Jun-20 11:56:01

People who have never smoked die of lung cancer at a young age and people who smoke all their lives die of unrelated illness at an old age . This is a fact of life and so far medics have not been able to say why this happens.
You have someone you love who will need your help soon. The reason for needing the help surely is immaterial .
Maybe it would be better to consider if he was a downhill skier and he had a bad accident that paralysed him . I know someone that happened to. In a foreign country and with no insurance as he intended to make his life there. Had to be airlifted back to the UK by his family who had to pick up the bill and then take care of him. Long term as he was not terminally ill.
He certainly 'caused ' the paralysis by being a skier but thankfully his family didnt hold that against him.

However they didnt have any rancour in their history that came to the surface once the chips were down.

Studycast Sun 28-Jun-20 12:03:50

I totally understand your frustration op. I think it's helpful to bear in mind that no one sets out to get lung cancer deliberately. Also, people have different stresses, and cope with stresses differently, so your DH may feel he needs nicotine to help him cope with daily life. Plus of course it's addictive.

I'm v frustrated with myself because I have gained a stone under lockdown and I was overweight before! It is an objectively very stupid thing to do, especially in current circumstances. There are reasons behind it, but ultimately, I am responsible for what I put in my own mouth. So your dh will know very well that smoking is stupid and feel ashamed and frustrated with himself, and that is possibly why he lied.

Ultimately, you have to meet people where they are at, with all of their weaknesses and failings. That's what true love is about. It's not at all frilly or sentimental. It's warts and all. I feel hypocritical writing this down this because I seem to do nothing but complain about my nearest and dearest ATM, so I know it's a far from easy thing to do and vice versa.

Gingernaut Sun 28-Jun-20 12:08:30

I understand your anger OP and can only echo another poster to find RL counselling or support.

I'd be stone cold livid that someone was such an addict they were slowly killing themselves, spaffing who knows how much money up the walls on tobacco and gaslighting me about it.

Clearly what's done is done, but without a safety valve of some description, you're going to just explode.

AlexisCarringtonColbyDexter Sun 28-Jun-20 12:14:07

I'd be stone cold livid that someone was such an addict they were slowly killing themselves, spaffing who knows how much money up the walls on tobacco and gaslighting me about it

I would be livid too. I hate smoking and think its a disgusting habit.
I agree with PP that your anger is reasonable but also wont achieve much. Its awful that his health is suffering but he knew the risks all along didnt he? its not as if noone knows about the risks now and there is free help to quit if you just visit your GP so its not as if help to give up isnt there. There are vapes and all sorts of help to give up.
Also, he is being selfish because if you have kids they are being exposed to smoke and tar chemicals on his clothes etc

If you feel you cannot assist him then hire a carer. I'm afraid I would find it difficult to have masses of sympathy for someone who did something they knew was carcinogenic and lied to me about it for years and years.

Fanthorpe Sun 28-Jun-20 12:14:54

I think the question is where do you go from here? You’ve both had a terrible shock, and are no doubt terrified about what’s coming. Do you blame him (although not everyone who smokes is ill because of it) or do you face the future?

You’re angry and upset, it’s completely justified. But what are you going to do?

StealthNinjaMum Sun 28-Jun-20 12:24:37

Do you really need to stick with him? It sounds like he's been lying and gaslighting throughout your relationship. A common theme in many relationship problems isn't so much that someone has behaved badly (affair, drugs, gambling addiction) but that they've been able to cover it up with lies.

steppemum Sun 28-Jun-20 12:27:45

My Granny (dad's mum) died of lung cancer when I was 21. I remember being so angry, not with her specifically, but with my mum who still smoked. It didn't help my mum give up then.

I understand the anger, but then I think a lot of our illness is brought on ourselves. I am overweight, but fit, so make excuses. Loads of people don't eat fruit and veg and eat too much processed meat. Most people don't do enough exercise and so on. Any of those can trigger an illness.

In the end you have to deal with what is in front of you.

steppemum Sun 28-Jun-20 12:30:15

sorry, meant to say, if part of that dealing with it means not nursing him, then so be it.

Do get some support/counselling to help you process.

Mama1980 Sun 28-Jun-20 12:43:49

I get your anger, he's been gaslighting and lying to you for years....that's what I would struggle to get over.
You need to decide whether it's something you can live with, which is an incredibly personal decision.

Hedgehog44 Sun 28-Jun-20 12:49:21

@It'ssummrt No it's my mums mum and they lived 350 miles from us so totally unrelated.

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