He had 6 elective surgeries in 4 years (mostly orthopedic, no illnesses) and is scheduled later this week for his 7th. He pretends to include me in the planning but schedules them 100 miles away in a larger city even when the local reputable hospital offers identical care. He then expects me (65) to take him (often in winter and bad weather) while laying all of the burdens of daily life on my plate, including the heavy work of cleaning up after storms (we have some inconsistent help that is quite expensive). He insists on having a car with standard transmission “to feel more connected to the car” which means I have to drive him to appointments etc until he can shift and clutch comfortably. He is a retired health care professional but will not consider medications to help despite being recommended by his orthopedists. He only wants the “fix” of surgery which hasn’t always been successful and has been expensive with out of pocket costs, etc. I’ve raised all these concerns repeatedly over the years and told him I wasn’t willing to take him to anymore surgeries unless he is willing to be more flexible. He has asked a 78 year old friend to take him to the surgery this week (snow is forecasted). He has always been highly perfectionistic about his body and abilities and will not accept anything less despite the realities of aging. I was very supportive of him with the first few surgeries but now have lost all empathy. We have been married 32 years but I’ve had it and feel trapped. I believe he would have a big problem if the roles were reversed.

Golly, I am 81.
I have been taken to task on Forum by my own beloved members in the past for saying "But 65 is SO YOUNG! Guess I will again. My daughter is 62 still working, so very active. My SIL is 70 and so active, a real hiker. Both still driving and one still working.

The truth is that when your body gives OUT, you are feeling OLD even if you are only in your 30s.
To go along with that, there is that chronic pain is one of the leading causes of terrible depression. There is nothing quite like waking in pain, spending a day in pain, sleeping through pain and awakening again in pain.

You say that your husband is choosing to travel to another place 100 miles away. And you claim there is as good a hospital nearby. But for me, there simply MUST be a reason he wants to travel to another place for his surgeries and his care.
When you ask, what does he tell you that reason is?

You are trying to change his choices of doctor for procedure and place and he is the patient. I would stop trying to change HIM, and just explain what YOU can and cannot do.
If you do not feel safe transporting him this 100 miles in bad weather, then tell him so, and do not do it.
He currently has made other arrangements.
Fine. That's good.

As to car with standard transmission, if you are uncomfortable driving it tell him so and do not drive it.

Your saying he is "laying the burdens of daily life" on you, to me sounds harsh. He is ill and apparently this is ortho pain. I don't know if this is back related or how related, but he can't do it. If you cannot do it either, then it gets hired out. There is really no choice.

I think this has likely been ongoing a long time. You want him to do his own medical choices your way and he is a medical professional who wants to do them his way.
Just tell him that you cannot be there at the levels he wishes you to because
A) you are uncomfortable now driving a stick
B) you don't wish to drive him 100 miles back and forth and he will have to arrange his transportation however he does that.
You however have no right to manage where he seeks care and how he does the medication routine (or not). Your opinion is great, if sought.

This is tough. He's in pain and depressed and you are worried and overwrought with all he cannot do, and with the fact this doesn't seem to be getting better.
This is one of those tough times that's covered under "in sickness and in health". I myself am dealing with a spot of bother, and it has an impact on my partner of 35 years. Whatchagonnado?

I wish you both the best.
Helpful Answer (21)
Reply to AlvaDeer
Chickie1 Feb 22, 2024
Thank you for your response. These are my thoughts exactly!
Thanks for your thorough and "spot on" response.
See 1 more reply
Please ask your husband to get an appointment with a psychiatrist. He needs to be evaluated for mental health issues - and get treatment. Aging does slow us all down. Aging does create some problems that must be endured and are unable to cure. Please consider going to a therapist to create a plan for dealing with your spouse's behavior problems - even if he will not go with you.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to Taarna

Don’t do things that you consider unreasonable.

If your husband doesn’t like your decision he will have to make other arrangements.

Don’t become involved in the other arrangements. Spare yourself from the stress of dealing with it.

Let others tell him what they are willing to do for him.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
Geaton777 Mar 4, 2024
MissesJ, my Mom has 8 siblings (she's the youngest). They all lived into their mid to late 90s. My Mom is currently 94 and other living sibling will be 105 in May. They both still live in their own homes with part-time help. My Mom still drives. So, in her family, 65 or 77 is definitely not old. It's true that age is a mindset, but it's also what one's brain and body allow.
Me, I won't drive in cities so you better go where I am willing to drive. And my DH needs me to be his ears. If he plans where he choses the surgery without ur imput, he can find transportation. Yes, I would bet if the tables were turned, he wouldn't becso understanding.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to JoAnn29

65 not old.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Karsten
MissesJ Feb 22, 2024
US life expectancy is 77, so what would you consider old?
See 3 more replies
What kind of elective surgeries is he having?

I'm 65 and was playing tennis 3-4x a week until I developed osteoarthritis in both knees. I had a total replacement this summer, then blew out my right elbow tendon when I returned to tennis. I'll need a 2nd total replacement surgery soon, and am going tomorrow for a surgery consultation so I can recover full use of my dominant arm since PT wasn't productive. Eventually I'll need a cataract procedure. I also had kidney stones surgically removed inbetween all of this. Still, I'm healthy... it's just my parts are not keeping up and there's solutions for my problems so far.

When you say "elective" (orthopedic?) surgery, can you be more specific? If it's anything like I've been doing, I don't blame someone for trying to keep their mobility intact, or vision or whatever.

I can imagine since he's not discussing it with you first it feels very disrespectful and frustrating, and tiring. I think drawing a boundary so that he needs to find his own "caregiver" for recovery like you did is as much as you can do, and just pay for storm clean-up from his funds, not yours. Tell him if he wants to go to appointments to rent one that's not a manual. Then may consider couples counseling.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Geaton777

I have to first say that 65 is NOT old(as I will be 65 in August and I am far from old)but it does sound like your husband suffers from depression(which I hope he's being treated for, and if not why not?)plus he sounds like he may be a bit of a hypochondriac, which could be related to his depression.
Who in their right mind would opt for "elective" surgeries if not needed?
You may want to let him know that as we get older and have to be put under anesthesia, that it has been proven to often cause dementia and dementia like symptoms, so if he's wanting to stay "young" he may want to rethink all these surgeries as he's asking for trouble with his mental cognitive abilities.
Your husband is making his own life decisions so make sure that you're making your own as well and setting your boundaries as necessary.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to funkygrandma59
Igloocar Mar 4, 2024
Orthopedic surgeries are often elective. The choice may be between severe pain that is not well-controlled in other ways and the time, energy, and pain of surgeries but with the likelihood of less pain and/or better function post-surgery. One frequent example is knee replacement. I would have had it years before my orthopedist wanted me to; he wanted to wait until the point where it was unlikely I would need a 2nd replacement before I died, which it looks like I won't have to do. Before the surgery, I still walked OK, but with constant pain, frequent physical therapy, and pain medication which was not only moderately effective and had the side effect of causing 2 ulcers (which we were aware might happen). The minute my orthopedist thought I was old enough, we did the replacement. I think it is difficult for anyone who hasn't gone through surgeries that had pain relief as their goal to understand well how life-disrupting constant orthopedic pain can be. The OP indicated her husband's surgeries were orthopedic, which is why I used this example.
These are the feelings/behaviors you raise which alert me:

He has always been highly perfectionistic about his body and abilities and will not accept anything less despite the realities of aging.

He may be a narcissistic personality. Read about and understand there is 'no' convincing or changing a person's mind when this is a brain disorder. Whether he is diagnosable or not really doesn't matter although it may help you understand his behavior better - for you to make healthy decisions for yourself.

I was very supportive of him with the first few surgeries ...

This tells me that you (used to...) 'give in' to his thinking and behaving. And it is long over-due that you assess the 'how' and 'why' you behave(d) / respond(ed) like this. This involves you feeling self-empowered / develop / take back your personal power.

but now have lost all empathy.

You are 'finally' burnt out realizing that your input, intended support doesn't register/matter to him. In his eyes, he is 'ruling the roost,' in charge - and will continue to do as he wishes. So ... you learn to LET GO. Period. Go arrange some flowers and let him stew / be / you shift your focus. He won't change. He's 'happy' with himself.

Now that you 'lost all empathy,' you will be able to step back and take care of yourself, and release your attachment to him in ways that drain your energy. As you now feel a lack of empathy, it seems like your energy is (finally) drained - so you can focus on yourself and your needs (exercise, gardening, friends, outings.

You seem to have realized that he will do what he wants and that you no longer are 'hitting your head against a wall."

We have been married 32 years but I’ve had it and feel trapped

This is the crux of your post here. YOU FEEL TRAPPED.

The questions are:

How do you feel trapped?
Why do you feel trapped?
When you understand what is running you, you will be able to 'un-trap' yourself. I know it isn't easy to change after being in a routine 32 years of marriage. However, if you feel trapped, you have to change. He won't.

This isn't easy inner work to do.
However, if you want 'you' in yourself, you need to deal with the fears and disappointments - and commit to the unknown path ahead ... towards being a whole-person.

Gena / Touch Matters
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to TouchMatters

Doctors are always the worst patients.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to olddude

I wish I could get back to my "65" year old body. Not sure how you are defining elective surgery but if you husband is used to being very active and PT hasn't worked he may be shooting for the next higher channel and I can kind of understand that although the risk of activating dementia does increase with the use of anesthetics during surgery. You indicare that he was quite proud of his body and physical prowess when he was in his thirties. He doesn't seem to understand that he is not thirty but I don't really know how you can change him. We all deal with aging in our own ways.
In any event, he might just be leaning towards the narcissistic edge now. I understand this as I used to be able to hop out of bed but now at 80, I have to do a bit of a dance (rotate the feet, wriggle the pelvis) to get there. And who is the old lady with the gray hair creppy skin and jowls staring at me when I look in the mirror? Yeah I would kill to be 70 again but it's not happening so I do what makes me feel good and allows me to accept the fact that at 80... I can't do many of the things I used to do except in my dreams. I put on make up, don a hairpiece (unless I'm going to ride a horse.... wigs get hot under those helmets) and dance to my own rhythm. While retired healthcare professionals are sometime bad patients, he seems to be taking it far beyond that and it may be time for you to draw a line, understanding that there may be consequences if he decides to step over it. If he wants to have an elective surgery 100 miles away when there is a perfectly good hospital that is closer, well he gets to figure out his transportation.... by himself. If he likes a standard transmission so he can "feel closer to the car" remind him that you are the one driving and you don't need to feel close to the car.

Sounds like he needs counseling but I have no idea how you can convince him of that because he is "perfect". There have been some good suggestions from other forum members and I can only wish you the best on this part of your journey.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to geddyupgo

See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter