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When words wound us

 

Question: We've been married for 30 years. My husband is not a Christian and is very hateful to me— cursing, cussing, insulting. He doesn't care who is around to hear. No one else has anything to do with him but me. I spend a lot of time crying. I'm a retired teacher and he is constantly making rude remarks about the love my students had for me. He's a very miserable man but his mouth is wearing me down. I can't get away from him. He has a leg off and is on dialysis. If he were to fall, I've been told they would put him in a nursing home—but we have no days left as he has already used 100. We have signed up again for home health care. He insulted the last home health care person and they wrote he was non-compliant. What do I do?

Dr. Amy: You do not say so in your letter, but is your husband’s abusive behavior fairly new? It could be a symptom of a mental health issue, such as depression. I encourage you to have your husband checked by his doctor. You might want to talk with the doctor yourself, first. When people lose a limb or other body part, and suffer from ill health, they can experience a wide range of emotions. Your husband may benefit from counseling for grief he may be feeling over his losses, and he may need medication. A medical doctor is the best person to advise you about this. I urge you not to stop talking to your doctor until you find yourself on a path out of these difficulties.

At the same time, you need support. It seems to me that you need to find someone to help you establish new patterns of communication with your husband. Obviously, if he is depressed, this may take a while. But I am sure you do not want to go on being verbally abused. I encourage you to consider seeing a therapist to figure out how to manage this difficult situation.

I also encourage you to hire a geriatric care manager to help figure out a care plan for your husband.  Geriatric care managers know a lot about health, psychology, and human development. They have an excellent understanding of family dynamics and can help you come to a decision about the best way forward. They also know about the resources in your community.

I send you the strength to take charge and make a positive change in your life—both for you and your husband! Good luck!

 

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