How To Fix An Emotional Wife

 

It must be hard being married to me.

Me and Hubby

Now, I’m no loony or anything, in fact as far as us females go, I’m pretty…..now what does my hubby call it? ……. level. I’m not overly dramatic, nor am I high maintenance, I am something of a plodder, emotionally, I mean.

Or, I was.

Recently, I have found myself becoming slightly more unpredictable and I can both see and feel my hubby’s bafflement when I have even the smallest of emotional outbursts.

Being a man, and being a very sensible and practical man, he wants to fix me. That’s what men do, isn’t it? A problem occurs and men deal with it by coming up with solutions.

Women, however, we empathise with each other first. Then we make sure we’ve got all the details, quizzing each other on every single thing – why this, why that, how-do-you-about-feel this and how-do-you-feel-about that. We curse at injustice, we cry at sadness, we get passionate about inconsequential minor details and we get emotionally involved, feeling each others’ pain and uniting in our femininity. That, for us is how we fix each other.

This was highlighted to me a few days ago, when Hubby found me shedding a delicate tear (read: sobbing noisily and very unattractively into a large glass of wine) and gave me a cuddle.

“I’m just feeling a little sad,” I managed to get out, spraying him with snot and tears. “About, Mum.” He retreated fast.

“You’ve had her for 60 odd years,” he said, very gently and kindly. “You need to remember how lucky you are.”

Now, he’s right.

Of course he’s right, (not the 60 odd years bit, I pedantically pointed out to him that I have only had her for as long as I’ve been alive, so significantly less than 60 odd years) but – the message he was trying to get across – that was right. The news has been strewn with horrendously sad stories over the past few weeks, which have made me sick to my stomach, Hubby has been dealing with a client whose young wife has just been diagnosed with cancer and one of my very good friends lost her dad when she was just ten years old. There are examples of terrible things happening to good people every where you look. My story, in comparison is not that bad.

I’m lucky really.

My mother’s battle with dementia is comparatively, not that sad.

I get it.

However……I already know all this. Knowing that I am very lucky to have had my mother for all these years and that she was a fantastic mother, are what keep me from being an emotional mess all the bloody time. I don’t need it pointing out to me.

The thing my hubby and quite probably lots of hubbies up and down the land, trying to fix their temporarily broken wives, don’t realise, is that in that moment of sadness, we just want sympathy, a cuddle and to be allowed to wallow. We need to feel the self-pity for a few moments, we need to let the grief in and we want to feel the release as the tears flow and the sobs wrack our bodies, because in their wake, we are left with an emptiness and a calm, where before there was physical pain.

The fix is not giving us solutions and practical advice.

The fix is the messy, snotty, noisy and sometimes dramatic release.

So, my advice to men who are trying to help their wives, girlfriends, partners deal with something difficult in their lives is as follows:

Don’t offer solutions, at least not when she’s having a good cry. There are other times when offering a practical fix is a good idea but it is never when she’s in the middle of an emotional episode. Leave your advice offering until things are calm and then broach it carefully.

It is a good thing that she is crying. It is good for her. It is stopping her from going insane.

And, at some point, not long after the ugly emotional episode, your level, plodder of a wife will return.

I promise.

 

 

Love you, Mum x

9 thoughts on “How To Fix An Emotional Wife

  1. Oh, how I relate to this! My ex just didn’t get this either. His own mum has advanced dementia, but he has no contact with her and is emotionally removed from it all. If I were ever talking about my parents, his response would be along the lines of ‘It’s what happens when people get old – it is what it is’. I agree – all we actually want is for someone to say ‘I know how hard it must be for you’ and to give us a hug.

    And, like you, I find that comparing my situation to others is no help – it doesn’t make your own grieving any easier, to know that others have it worse. I once saw Katie Piper give a talk and she said never to underplay your own life experiences, just because others seem to be having a harder time of it, and she pointed out that there were, of course, people worse off than her (yet none of us would do anything other than give her sympathy in regard to what happened to her!).

    There are so many of us out there going through this – at least we do have each other to provide support and a strange kind of camaraderie. xx

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  2. Oh Helen, what a lovely comment to leave. Thank you for taking the time to write your very heart-felt words. It is strange that I now share experiences with so-called strangers and find comfort in their words. I never imagined I would be in this situation, but you make the best of it, don’t you?
    I hope you and your family are all okay and am sending my very best wishes your way,

    Sarah x

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. We thought it was hard enough when Mum developed dementia, and now Dad is in the same boat! – in fact, in 18 months he has caught up with her (hers has been a gradual decline over about 5 years). I remember, a few years ago, an acquaintance mentioning that she was supporting two parents with dementia and I thought ‘Oh how awful, I can’t imagine coping with that’. And now here I am…as you say, you just don’t expect it.

      I have, sort of, adjusted to the new reality and having to interact with them differently, but now and again I can’t help but stop and think ‘WTF has happened’! I don’t know about you, but I am starting to forget how they were when things were still normal. The old Mum and Dad have become an almost abstract concept!

      All the very best to you and yours. Helen x

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      1. Oh Helen, I am so sorry to hear that. You’re right – there are moments when you think WTF and “WHY ME?” and sometimes you need to wallow in self pity….sometimes it’s the only way to cope.
        You are also right that you start to forget how they were – or not forget……. you get used to the new “them”, and when you realise that, it’s very shocking and sad. I hate that I am now used to my mum in her almost catatonic state. I hate that the new mum is normal to me. That is very upsetting.
        What you are coping with sounds very tough. My father has his own health issues which cause us some concern, but so far, despite the stress he has managed to stay well. I am thinking of you and sending strength and love and my best wishes,
        Sarah x

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      2. Hi Sarah, thank you so much for your very kind words. I know just what you mean about hating that this is the ‘new normal’. That phrase has echoed in my head many times in the last year or so. It is some comfort, at least, that we can all support each other. I often go on the Alzheimer’s Society forum to read about others’ experiences – it helps to know others feel the same about finding themselves in these strange, surreal circumstances. I do feel for you, though, that it has affected your mum at such an early age.Mother Nature is very cruel. xx

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  3. I have come to realize that husbands are good for things and friends are good for other things, and even within any group of friends, there are certain ones good for laughs, and certain ones good to keep you from going off the rails, others to reminisce with, and so on. My husband happens to be fairly skill-free when it comes to comfort and commiseration. So, I’ve stopped waiting for that. In other words, I know exactly what you mean 🙂
    It’s so hard, with dementia, when you don’t technically have a reason for grieving. Well I mean, not the usual reason. It truly is a long good-bye.

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