I met Jake when I was a student in his graduate seminar. He was a young professor and I sat right up front, in the first row. I asked lots of questions and we had an almost immediate connection. I tried not to believe that my professor would be flirting with me, a younger student in his class, but one evening after a special study session, and we were the only two remaining, it became clear that the attraction was not all in my imagination. As soon as the class ended, he asked me out on a formal date. We scheduled the date for after the semester ended and he took me to dinner. The electricity between us lit up the room. The restaurant had to ask us to leave and then we continued in a bar after that. We talked until 3a.m., without any awkward pauses.
The relationship progressed and fast forward, we got married. All was well until I got pregnant. Things are scary enough with pregnancy, but then I was diagnosed with cancer. How I made it through the rest of the pregnancy without going crazy is still a mystery. The risks were numerous and I was terrified. One month early, the doctor took my baby out through Caesarean section, and while I was open, I had everything else removed as well.
My husband and I each grasped onto our son as if our life depended on it. He became our family foundation. Our lives revolved around him, and less about each other. We each escaped by becoming more absorbed in our jobs. To some extent, we lived parallel lives. Then the unheard of happened: my husband was diagnosed with cancer, too. We were shocked beyond belief. One of us dealing with cancer was bad enough, but this was ripping at the threads of our marriage.
At this point, we each needed lots of attention. I was only a few years from healing and he was about to begin a stressful, difficult time. He wanted answers to questions that couldn’t be answered. Our mortality was staring us in the face. We weren’t sure we had the strength to deal with all of the hardship ahead of us. Both of our extended families lived far away so we were on our own. I was not feeling as if he understood of all of my issues and needs and he felt mutually misunderstood by me. I wanted to talk about everything and he wanted to process things internally. I felt shut out and ignored. He felt irritated all the time. We each asked ourselves, if this was my last year of life, how I would want to spend it.
And we sadly came to the conclusion that it was not with the other.
Has this happened to you? What advice would you give to someone in this situation?
Please share your response in the comments section below.