My husband is returning from a 4-month stay in rehab this week. How can I avoid falling back into the "master and slave" lifestyle?

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At the beginning of February, my husband was admitted to a rehab facility for 3 months of physical therapy for mobility issues. He will be returning home this coming Saturday. I've been "on my own" for this time and doing pretty well. I've handled any issues with the house, paid bills, budgeted our expenses and carried on with life. When he returns, I am concerned that things will go back to him as master and me as slave and I am becoming very depressed about this. Previously, I couldn't even get up out of a chair without him asking what I was going to do. If he was just trying to make conversation, it got to be extremely annoying. He obsesses over many things and needs to have the final say in whatever is done or not done. He is immobile and as they've said in rehab, even after 4 months of therapy, he remains " max assist" , only able to feed himself. My family room will be turned into a hospital room with a bed and lift and caregiving supplies. If we qualified for Medicaid, I would have him remain at this facility despite his protests. He cannot get into or out of a car. We have free paratransport here, but that can only take him around our city. I cannot take him anywear. Our life is far from how the Senior citizens live in the AARP and Consumer Cellular ads.


I love my husband. He has a cardiac issues. So did his twin brother. I live in fear that he will pass as his brother did, suddenly, in the middle of the night. Because of this, I feel very obligated to do all he asks and tolerate his "type A" personality. I'm not sure I will now be able to be a "little churchmouse" anymore. I sincerely do not want to be nasty or insulting to him, but he pushes me there. I never get the feeling he cares about me beyond my taking care of him. He seldom says please or thank you, and often, even though he has power of speech, he will on occasion point and grunt when he wants something.


I am trying very hard to graciously accept this hand I've been dealt but he makes it very difficult.

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If you agree to your husband's treatment of you, under the guise of not upsetting, him, then I don't see how things will be any different. Why not ask his doctor if you insisting that you be treated with dignity and respect would cause husband to have a heart attack. If not, I would refuse to walk on egg shells and I would do what I thought was reasonable regarding husband. If he can't get up, then, he's at your mercy and he can't bully you, unless you allow it.

Have you ruled out any cognitive decline in husband? Often, that makes people seem unappreciative, rude, demanding and annoyed. Sometimes, those traits begin before you see memory issues.

I would also meet with an attorney to explore what benefits he may be entitled to, so you can get some relief. How many people cared for your husband around the clock at rehab? So, you are supposed to do all their shifts, plus, take care of your own needs? It sounds quite daunting. No wonder you are apprehensive. I'd try to locate an expert to see what you and husband may qualify for and if nothing, how much paid services would cost.

I hope you find some relief. Please let us know what happens.  You obviously need support and assistance. 
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I became completely deaf whenever I was treated that way. If a demand was made...I would sit and remind him there needed to be a please added to that. And I would stay sat till I got one in a civil tone. If I did a chore for him and I didn't get a thank you...I would remind him the same way I did the kids...."what do you say?"

Just because you are his wife does not mean you are not due at least the same respect you would get from a stranger!

Just tell him...be assertive but not rude. "Dear, I am not your slave, but gladly will I do your bidding...BUT..hang a pleasant "please on that"
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Can you tell the rehab facility you are no longer able to care for him at home and see what alternative living arrangements they come up with?
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Linda; When my dad was dying of leukemia, my mom was working (on the 20 year plan) towards getting her bachelor's degree. She took whatever was given on Tuesday mornings and my father HATED it. He thought she was abandoning him. She said it kept her sane.

She completed her bachelor's degree in Behavioral Sciences at the age of 82. Summa Cum Laude.

My mother's example is probably why I remain fairly grounded in the midst of her dementia; we are none of us kids her hands' on caregivers; nor did she ever want us to be.
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Funny, I just ranted on another thread about just this topic. My hubs has been spending a lot of time living at his elderly parents home lately and so I've gotten used to more time alone. I have a much lower tolerance threshold than I used to. I never realized how controlling he is. With everything. Checking groceries out today. It's like a race. I can't seem to do anything right. Wiping a dish one moment..........then suddenly it's not in my hand anymore because he has grabbed it and wiped it so much better than I. (note the sarcasm)

I have a mammogram appt. on Tuesday. I want to go alone. All day today.........I'll come with you. No, I want to go alone. Over and over. It's like if he nags me enough I'll capitulate. How many times does a person have to say no before it sinks in. Oh, and before anyone says, Oh, it's sweet he wants to come with you to your mammogram appt. Sweet has nothing to do with it. Example: I went flying over the handlebars of my bike a few years ago. So there I was in emergency with one of those neck braces they put on you. I hear him in the waiting room doing the eye chart with the other people waiting. Totally ignoring me. If he could come into all my doctor's appts. with me, he would so that he could discuss how great a doctor his Dad is and leave me sitting there ignored. Everything is about him.

To the original poster, if I were you, the next time your husband points and grunts like an ape I'd start treating him like an ape. Feed him bananas and tell him to pound on his chest if he is happy. Then ignore him.
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Oh boy! I feel for you! This is going to be a big adjustment.

My advice is to set up safety nets for yourself before he gets back and while you are still feeling pretty good: schedule caregivers if you can afford it (or call senior services/Area Agency on Aging) if you can't. If there is a class or some activity you've been interested in, sign up this week -- it will give you something to look forward to each week, an excuse to get out of the house, and something to take your mind off the situation at home. Set up a little "refuge" for yourself in your room and get yourself a book you've been wanting to read for your nightstand.

Also if you start getting that feeling that he's impinging on you, it might help to have a visualization ready -- maybe a moment where you felt really good while he was gone -- and try to get away from him and out in the fresh air, take a deep breath and think of that moment.

Barb's suggestion about the therapist is great! Good luck with this!
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Thank you all!!!!!! Wow I am not alone!!! What a great feeling! All of you are correct, except we can afford personal caregivers, but John doesn't want anyone but me to take care of him. I just need 2 days a month vacation and it's like I am leaving him forever and ungrateful for wanting time to myself. I thank you all soooo much, I am going to be stronger in my conviction of taking 2 days a month off. We have a home in the desert la Quinta and going there for my sanctity. Love to you all
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First off, has been seen by a geriatric Psychiatrist while in rehab?

Second, what at home help do you qualify for? I would think the very first thing is for you to set up caregivers to do some of the assisting several times a week so that you can see friends, get out for exercise, doctors appointments and the like.

Perhaps some sessions with a Therapist or social worker when he first comes home might do YOU some good in maintaining your new resolve.
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You owe it to yourself to maintain the good, healthy progress you have made on your own. Establishing healthy boundaries with him will take some time and practice. You do not want to fall back into that role and it is not inevitable. Do things that support you in your independence.
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I am so happy to know I am not alone!!!! Feel for you and YOU are not alone! My husband actually believes I should be grateful to take care of him!!!!!! Yea I am sooo grateful every time I clean his poop up. I am so grateful when he yells demands at me. I am so grateful when he insults me!
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