For Better or for Worse — but Not for Hospitals?
Dear Margo: I’ve been married for quite a number of years, and something has been bothering me recently. My husband comes up with all kinds of excuses not to be with me when I have any kind of surgery. It all started four years ago when I had rather serious surgery. He dropped me off at the front door of the hospital and went home to wait for the doctor’s call. He came to visit me once during my four-night stay. I admit that I didn’t make a fuss since it did seem OK, at the time, for him to simply wait at home and call me to keep in touch.
Since that time, I’ve had other surgeries that required either an overnight or a two-night stay. He never stayed in the hospital to see me post-surgery, nor did he come to visit. He did, however, keep in constant contact with me.
Lately, this has bothered me more, as I see the behavior of others. In his favor, his first wife died of cancer, so perhaps he became hospital phobic after that. But it does seem rather selfish, the more I allow myself to think about it. As more friends and family say he is getting away with murder, I, too, am beginning to wonder. Should I make more of a fuss or simply insist that he “be there for me” if hospitalization is necessary again? We are both retired, so a work schedule does not come into play. — Confused After a Lot of Years
Dear Con: You don’t say what the general nature of the relationship is, so I will just assume there is no underlying hostility floating around and that this is your major issue. To find out his reasons for basically saying you’re on your own in medical situations, have you tried asking him? If it’s simply that hospitals give him the willies, that would be a good thing to discuss. As things are now, he is definitely “not there for you.” The outlines of this problem make him sound selfish and self-centered. If he has a fear of hospitals, I suggest he get some help in overcoming his phobia, and also in understanding that you need support, not abandonment. — Margo, correctively
Brushing Off Difficult Questions
Dear Margo: I grew up in a small town, left for college and moved away 30 years ago. After living outside of the United States for several years, I have now returned to my home state, but several hundred miles away from my old hometown. I attended my high school class reunion, but that visit didn’t go well, and I need advice about whether I should visit again.
Several people at the reunion asked about my older brother, who still lives there. I was not sure how to deal with these inquiries because my brother sexually terrorized me as a child and I ended all contact with him years ago. Our mother keeps me informed about my sister-in-law’s and nieces’ activities, but we do not discuss him. Obviously, I am not going to discuss his behavior toward me, but I felt hypocritical smiling and telling them he is fine and happy, which is really all they wanted to hear. What can I say to end these inquiries and not give away our family secrets? — Childhood Trauma Survivor
Dear Child: How nice for your brother that the whole town doesn’t know. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, feel free to skip the hypocritical smile and just say you were never really close and don’t know anything of his life now. Over and out. I am not for playing yourself false, and I also don’t have a problem with cutting people off if they’re going where you do not want to go. — Margo, directly
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
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