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Thread: How do you handle family who doesn't understand?

  1. #1

    How do you handle family who doesn't understand?

    I'm posting this in caregivers because I'm asking this on my wife's behalf. While she does not have to TAKE care of me, as I am fortunately only a para, due to several reasons concerning my health, I do NEED her assistance a great deal. This is fine with her and when left to our own devices, the two of us manage just fine. It is very hard at times because I am sick often and in severe pain often, or both, as when I am sick, the pain gets worse. And all the while, trying to work full time. As does she. Still, we manage, and we do not ask her family or my family for help. We make an effort not to let OUR struggles, become our FAMILIES' struggles. Her family is aware of the condition of my health. Of course, my family is too.

    The problem she is having now, and has had since shortly after we got married, is that some of her siblings do not feel she "pulls her weight" when it comes to taking care of their parents, who are both elderly and have health concerns of their own. To be honest, she does not do as much as she would like to do for her parents, and this is totally because of me and the fact that I need her assistance so much. Which makes me feel guilty. But, this is not about me. My concern is for my wife. There was a time, before me, that she did a great deal for her parents. She has 3 sisters, so they end up doing more than her for their parents now (because of me) and then some of them resent her for it.

    My wife loves her parents. She does what she can for them. Our life is extremely difficult and we have no spare time. We have a very long commute, as there are no decent jobs in our area. Moving closer to town is not an option because we live next to her parents, and she does not want to leave them. She rarely gets to see them as it is, as we are gone usually 13 hours a day. If we moved closer to work, she would not be able to do anything for them at all.

    Her sisters seem to have the idea that my wife and I are just living it up and not doing our part for Mom and Dad. This is far from reality. There are many things we would love to do for ourselves on weekends, but usually I spend most of the weekend in bed trying to recover from the week I just worked, so I can make it back to work on Monday. I miss a great deal of work because of my health. Her family knows this. So, really our life revolves around getting to work, work, and getting home from work, and then me recovering from work, and of course, my wonderful string of doctor's visits and health issues. There is no time for US, so naturally there is no time for anything or anyone else.

    My wife will not leave me at home alone over night. To be honest, I need her there due said health issues. She WILL go over to her parents and spend the night if needed on weekend nights because, as I said, we are next door. If I need her she can come quickly. However, she will NOT spend the night on week nights. We have to get up at 4 am to be at work by 8 am. I admitt, I need her to get ready for bed and to get ready for work because I usually feel like hell and my BP makes me physically ill. Some have said since I am this sick I should just quit work, but I can't. Besides the fact that I WANT to work, I HAVE to work for us to make it, and if it runs what's left of me into the ground and I die, she will be at least well off financially as I have seen to that with plenty of insurance on myself.

    Her sisters are making her life a living hell. She has tried to explain our situation in the past, but apparently it has done no good. One of her sisters accused her of "spoiling" me. She also told her that she CAN do more and that she CAN leave me alone sometime. She can and does leave me, WHEN it is possible.

    Outside help for her parents could have been hired long ago, but because her father would not hear of it, it didn't happen until recently, when a housekeeper and a "sometimes" sitter was hired for her mother. Finally, last year, he allowed someone to be hired to cut the grass in the summer.

    Her sisters have recently made their resentment of her for spending so much time on me very obvious. She tried again to explain they do not know our situation, but they shout over her speaking and then hang up on her. How they could not understand, I do not know, as anyone with common sense who knows even a little about my health conditions should be able to figure this out that I'm unfortunately a needy man.

    I'd like to know if any of you caregivers OR SCI'ed persons OR AB's involved with SCI'ed persons have ever run into this and how did you handle it? My wife has tried explaining. It did not work. She tried just ignoring them. It did not work. They left her alone about it until a recent crisis with her parents caused some of her sister's true feelings to "shine" through and it all came up again. My wife did her best through this crisis and helped all she could, including leaving me alone most of last weekend while I was sick. But, like I said, she was right next door, just 1/10th of a mile away. I WANTED her to go spend the weekend at her parent's and take care of her mom, because I love her parents too.

    This situation is tearing me apart for her. I want to talk to her sisters and set them straight, but she asked me not to. She says they are her sisters, to just let her handle it. I respect her wishes and have kept quiet thus far, but it's getting harder and harder.

    If any of you have run into this situation I'd appreciate your input. Thanks much.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Blundy, I hurt for you and Carol. God bless you both. This is a tough situation. Neither one of you needs the added stress of resentment based in ignorance on top of everything else.

    Carol is right to be the one who communicates with her sisters, etc. However, I might suggest a family meeting with some sort of mediator? I don't know what else to suggest, except maybe a lot of prayer!

    Also, just want you to know that I really appreciate your sensitivity to your wife's suffering in this situation. You obviously love her very much. Please keep us posted.

  3. #3
    Member THP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Grapevine, Tx USA
    There's no question you need to have a family "sibling" meeting. It's been my experience that sibling jealousy always rears its ugly head when it comes to the care giving of parents. Seems each individual always thinks they are contributing more than any of the other individuals. One good thing - thank your luck stars her siblings are not males.

    Able bodies have little clue about the amount of care and difficulty many of us go through. Basically, you are "out of their sight and out of their mind". Consequently, they have no reference to your family's difficulties and can generate little empathy.

    Alternatively, you might think about editing some of the more emotional comments from your post and putting them in letter form and have them read it while the group is together.

    You did an excellent job of expressing yourself. Again, remove ALL emotion from the letter. Let the facts speak for itself. And remember - it's NOT a pity party. Make that absolutely clear to everyone.

    Good luck.


  4. #4
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Windsor ON Canada
    I apologize in advance if this does sound harsh or cold, but I have not had good experiences with family.

    It has been my experience that older people enjoy the fuss. They enjoy the melodrama of sibling versus sibling and the attention that they receive as a result.

    If the in-laws were thoughtful and required that much help, they would sell the home and move into a situation better accommodated to their needs.

    Aren't we all responsible for ourselves our entire lives? It is too late in the game for a child for me, but I have thought should I ever become a burden, to a home I would go.

    The in-laws are the problem here, not you.

  5. #5
    Blundy, I echo Martha's feelings - I hurt for you both as you try to struggle with your own lives, and have to deal with unthinking family members. It's obvious that Carol is being stretched in all directions, and your guilty feelings are through the roof at this point.

    It's a tough situation, and I'm not sure I have an answer, so the following is maybe just some 'free form thoughts', if you will!

    One thing I would do is sit down and make a list of all the things Carol needs to do for you/with you/about you - doc's visits, time together, physical care, whatever.

    At the same time, have her sisters do the same for what the parents need in terms of care.

    Then, maybe (?) have them have a sit down and let Carol tell them exactly what 'duties' she is willing to participate in with the parents. I'm sure she has guilty feelings, too - but her first responsibilty is to you, and your marriage. If you folks were living in a distant city, they wouldn't expect her to fly home on weekends.

    Families just suck sometimes; I'm sorry you folks are having to go through this. Why don't you see if you can get Carol to sing on the caregivers forum - maybe just her letting off some steam will do some good.

    In the meantime, ((((HUGS))))))))to you both. Keep on lovin' each other, 'cause that's all there is.


    If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. - Mother Teresa

  6. #6
    Senior Member kate's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    bellevue, wa, usa
    Seems to me the sisters-in-law don't WANT to know the realities of your lives . . . it would be ever so much more convenient (for them) if your wife could just make herself available.

    A year ago, my mom fell and broke her hip while she was trying to take care of her aged brother. She ended up in a hospital far from her home . . . just when my family and I were scheduled to go and visit her. We'd spent a ton of money on plane tickets and lodgings, and so I had to choose between going to be with her in the hospital, (and letting all our expense be for nothing while my husband and kids stayed at home) or taking our vacation.

    I have 7 grown-up brothers and sisters . . . I let them figure out how to take care of our mom this time--but I know a couple of them were REALLY furious that I was "enjoying myself" while they had to be there for our mom. Never mind that this was our family's first time on a real vacation since the accident. Never mind that without me, the trip wouldn't have been possible. My sisters still thought I had an obligation to "do my share".

    What I read from your eloquent post, Blundy, is that you and your wife are stretched to the limit already. The problem is that her family doesn't want to believe it, and really, who can blame them? Of course they'd rather if she could do more! She can't though, and it's unfair to ask it of her.

    I wonder if the two of you couldn't invite the most reasonable of the sisters over for a weekend visit sometime . . . nothing tense or defensive, just a couple of days together, during which it just might become obvious what you're up against.

    In the meantime, we're thinking of you, and hoping all is well.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    This post won't make me Mr.Popular, but I would like to add my two cents.

    I don't purport to know your situation but it seems to me that you're a bit clingy and using that on your wife.

    I'm a C4-5 Quad with my share of the typical aches/pains etc. that we all enjoy. You're so sick that your wife can't leave your side but you still manage without her all day at work? Like most with SCI, we've all had our share of traumatic sicknesses, sores, infections, spams etc.etc., but you're that sick and still work, uh huh, yeah.

    I would suggest that this has more to do about your lack of self-esteem or worth than to do with your in-laws.

    I imagine more people are thinking the same thing, but won't post it. Perhaps I shouldn't either, but hey it's a free world, last time I looked.

  8. #8
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Grant:

    I don't purport to know your situation but it seems to me that you're a bit clingy and using that on your wife.[QUOTE]

    No Grant, you DON'T know Blundy's situation, other than what he has posted here. I, however, DO know his situation because I am his wife! He posted this as a favor to me. Blundy is far from clingy. In fact, he's the biggest, meanest red-neck I know!

    Let me clear a few things up for you. You seem to have misunderstood. Blundy's pain is not "typical" as you put it. It's probably worse than anything you have ever experienced or you would not have even thought to even use that expression. You did include some of his medical conditions. However, because you, as you said, do not KNOW his situation, left quite a few of them out. I will not list them here. I have no need to validate our situation to you.

    And yes dear, he IS that sick, and yes he works. He works sick, he works in pain. I suppose he is able to do what he does because he has the most determination of anyone I know. Most people do not possess his drive or determination. Those are some of the many things I fell in love with him for. My husband is an extraordinary man. He had the same drive and determination before SCI and he still has it.

    Whoever said I won't leave his side? It wasn't Blundy and it sure wasn't me. What he said was that I will not leave him alone at night due to medical issues. The same ones I will not list for you. Because of our "non-typical" situation he DOES need my help for some things. So what? Big deal? I'm his wife and his best friend! THAT is what marriage is about.

    Blundy certainly does not lack self-esteem. He is the most confident man I know. Another quality that drove me to chase him down like a rabbit!

    Grant, you took a little bit of info and made lots of incorrect assumptions! Blundy posted this for ME because I wanted feedback from others who HAVE BEEN THERE. I have not had the time or heart to get on the internet. kind of busy trying to help my family as my father lay in the hospital almost dead. The last thing I needed was to come here to find YOUR ridiculous post.

    Blundy asked for opinions on A SITUATION, not on himself! He posted exactly what I would have posted. This is the very reason I stopped posting personal stuff on CC. People can't just ANSWER the original question.

    Grant, you are JUST like two of my sisters! Drawing conclusions without evidence!

    Thank you everyone for all the great advice. I was not even going to post here, just read. I'm just so stressed out from all that is going on right now in our life. Then Grant makes his grand first ever post on CC entrance and pisses me of, so I'm compelled to come out of my shell! I don't mind if people disagree with me on CC, or express views different from mine...that would be crazy. The problem I have with Grant's post is the insulting tone of it. I am going to read and reread all the advice given and take it to heart and use it. I appreciate your time and thoughtful responses.

    And Grant, bite me!


  9. #9
    Carol calm down. When you get back, let me know. Don't worry about that guy. I'm sure he's just having a bad day. You know I don't give a rat's a** what anyone says about me. Don't you care either, ok?

    Thanks everybody for all the input. You all, with the exclusion of Grant, make a lot of sense. Grant doesn't know me and so maybe I do come off as clinging, with low esteem. Oh well, can't please all the people all the time. Your advice is great advice and much appreciated by the both of us.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Carol, like I said, I don't know your situation, I was adding my 2 cents...and trust me, had my share of pains, tribulations etc..

    I have posted tons under an old name, just changed it to my real name.

    I honestly wasn't trying to be a jerk, and after reading my post, you're 100% correct, I don't know your situation, I offer an apology. I don't normally jump in like that and can offer no excuse other than typing before thinking. For whatever reason, it struck a nerve this morning.

    Once again, my sincere apology.

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