ask: Living with and possibly leaving a sick spouse - a heartfelt story from a reader looking for advice

By Michelle King Robson Expert HERWriter
Rate This

A couple of days ago, a woman wrote to me in the "ASK Michelle" section and told me her heartfelt, honest, and I think heart-wrenching story about her ill husband, who has multiple sclerosis, and the very real difficulties about living with someone who has changed in so many ways over the years. Many of the changes have affected his personality and made him very difficult to live with at times. I wrote her back and told her how I could totally see where she was coming from in terms of her emotions, and that I understood what she was saying. But I also wanted to post her story here (see below), so others could see it and reply to her and give her more suggestions, support and a sense of hope and that she is not alone. Please, if anyone has anything they'd like to tell her, I would really appreciate it--I'm sending her this link so she can watch for more replies. For example, do you know of another woman who has gone through this, and/or do you know of any resources for her? Thank you everyone!

"I am a 37year old female, well educated and completely healthy. I married my husband 8 years ago, knowing that he has multiple sclerosis. He was a vibrant, fun, clever and interesting person. Over the past 8 years, he has physically deteriorated (developed seizures, incontinence, difficulty walking distances, had a pulmonary embolism and now suffers from depression (but who wouldn't)). He no longer works, he stays home and does some household chores, is obsessed with our finances (we are doing ok), is mean and angry, hardly talks to me, hasn't held me or made love to me in years and honestly I don't even think that he likes me. I really think that I could deal with the physical limitations, it's the emotional stuff that is wearing me down. I've been seeing a counselor who asks me "How much more are you willing to take?" and I just don't know anymore. I'm so lonely and feel so trapped. He refuses to see a counselor or psychiatrist. I feel like an awful person for even thinking of leaving him, but I'm so unhappy that I don't know what else to do. I guess my question is "what kind of woman leaves a sick spouse?"

Add a Comment383 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

My husband and I have been together for going on 8 years but just got married last month.

Shortly after we met and began dating he let me know that he had lost both his kidneys when he was a child and now had a transplanted kidney that he had received when he was twelve.

This didn't change anything for me. Growing up my aunt had battled diabetes and kidney failure, it was something that my entire family had battled my entire childhood so it was a condition that I was familiar with.

For the first three years of our relationship everything was fine; he had regular doctors appointments, had to drink tons of water and had to take insane amounts of medication to keep the kidney going but this was nothing that I couldn't handle.

Then in 2010 his kidney failed; the next two years consisted of constant dr appointments, in home dialysis, traveling to other states to get on the kidney transplant list. For two years the only time I left the house was to go to work. I hooked him up to his dialysis machine every night, cleaned the sight where the tube was in his abdomen, sat in the ER with him on countless nights and even got tested to give him one of my own kidneys.

During this time the man I fell in love with disappeared. He became depressed, he no longer had any energy, lost every bit of his sex drive and pretty much just treated me as his nurse. Although I thought about leaving occasionally I always pushed the thoughts away and reminded myself of what he was going through.

In 2012 he received his transplant from a deceised donor. After the transplant things took a while to go back to normal, although it did take a while.

But in the past year everything has changed. He has been having horrible migraines and barely sleeps. His kidney is fine but he cannot seem to get rid of these migraines. At times I seriously consider the possibility that he has developed split personalities, sometimes he's perfect and is the man I fell in love with and that I married but then there are other times that he becomes a completely different person. He throws things, cuses, calls me every name you can think of, breaks things, blames me for anything and everything and more.
I just don't know what to do. When he's good, our marriage is great, it's far from perfect but we work together and things are fine. But when he's stressed or in pain and the other side of him comes out all I can do is cry and pray that something changes. I just don't know else to do. I try not to argue back, telling myself that he's in pain and he's feeling out of control but sometimes I can't help but yell back. I honestly just don't know what to do anymore, I really don't

June 23, 2015 - 7:58pm
EmpowHER Guest

When I sick my wife left me. After 15 years raising her daughter and provide for both. Now I talked to her a few weeks ago. And she was being nice. I was letting her know I was getting worse.
So then she ask how much insurance money she would be getting. I would not tell her. She quit talking to me now. So I take it this must be my fault as well from the rest of the post on here.

June 21, 2015 - 8:47pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I'm so so sorry dear. Praying for u!

June 26, 2015 - 10:26pm
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon
If your ex wife is looking out only for money, you need to get a divorce so that anything you have goes to your daughter and other people you'd like it to go to. I'm very sorry for your situation.

June 22, 2015 - 5:05am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon
If your ex wife is looking out only for money, you need to get a divorce so that anything you have goes to your daughter and other people you'd like it to go to. I'm very sorry for your situation.

June 22, 2015 - 5:04am
EmpowHER Guest

I have been with my partner for 9 years. What are support groups called for this?

June 21, 2015 - 6:23pm
EmpowHER Guest

I understand exactly how you feel. My spouse was diagnose with a Brain Tumor hopefully non- malignant, but she has changed drastically since the diagnoses. I feel trapped, unwanted, unappreciated, unloved and so much more. I feel awful feeling this way, but I really can't take it much longer. She could care less about me and I mean like I could die tomorrow and there wouldn't be any remorse whatsoever. I feel somehow she blames me for her diagnoses. I have assumed ALL the responsibilities of running a household with two children living at home. I'm going to a counselor this week, because I need to understand or at least try to. I feel that my life has ended!

June 20, 2015 - 11:34am
EmpowHER Guest

My husband and I have been together 26 years. He was diagnosed with TIA and has found multiple blockages through out his bodies as well as 100% in his right neck. His attitude is horrible . Can't work (I understand he was a great provider) has put a lock on (what was our ) bedroom door. He is always angry and when he does say anything to me (never) it's so hateful. He refuses to help with car repairs, or groceries,( collects s.s.and retirement check) will not eat anything I cook, or wash his clothes. Some have heard some pretty nasty things he says of me(did I mention no intimate contact in 3 years) . He seems to work hard at professing "I don't want you or love you anymore" I'm so torn and at 54 , I'm scared. He promised FOREVER. I am depressed, crying , lonely (I really just need talking, acknowledgement,watching tv....all the things we were about. Trust me the sex thing I understand, I could love him even without it) I am ready to give up. I leave, it's just me, scared to attempt this again. I do love the man he once was. All the years of drinking and this illness may be the end. In more ways

June 13, 2015 - 1:17am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Your husband might be talking through his illness - or he may be telling you the truth. Maybe it's over - he keeps telling you it is.

Staying married to a man who says he doesn't want you anymore and who verbally abuses you is not a good idea.

You are only 54 - you could have another 30 good years. You have so much life left to live.


June 15, 2015 - 2:44pm
EmpowHER Guest

When I married my husband 27 years ago he was healthy. He had MS for about 10 years. I love my husband even if he has MS or any other illness. My husband cheated on me early in our marrige, I didn't find out about it unil 20 years later, I forgave him and stayed married to him. For the past few years my husbands mood has changed drastically, he is very abusive towards me. He had physically abused me a couple of times and he repeatedly verbally abuses me. I feel as though I am constantly walking on eggshells trying to be careful of what I say or do around him, I know it is his MS making him this way so I try to not blow up at him but today I did, I couldn't help myself, I wanted to hurt him verbally like he hurt me, which I know is wrong. I don't know what to do anymore. He gets angry with me it seems for breathing to loud. I love him and don't want to leave him but I don't want to be called a whore at the top of his lungs, shouting outside in front of everyone that I am a's very embarrassing for me. I also don't like being kicked in the stomach or choked almost to death. I wish someone would tell me how to stop this madness, I want the man I married back. Any advice would be appreciated.

May 29, 2015 - 12:12pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.

Mental Health

Get Email Updates

Mental Health Guide

Susan Cody HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!


3482 Health


2132 Lives


1989 Lives
2 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

Have you experienced postpartum depression?:
View Results