Reddit: Wife Wants to Leave Husband After Cancer Scare

“In sickness and in health” is part of the classic marriage vows for a reason. Committing to someone means making a promise to stay with them through it all, both the good times and the bad. When it comes to health problems — an inevitable challenge every couple will face at some point — you might just be the only source of support they have, or vice versa.

Of course, that’s easier in theory than in practice. Health problems can be a huge source of stress, and marriages often enter rocky waters when one partner is suffering. However, which partner it is makes a big difference. According to a study in the journal Cancer, when a woman is a cancer or multiple sclerosis patient, they’re six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after the diagnosis compared to when the man is the patient. In other words, women are statistically more willing to do the work of caregiving for a sick partner; men, not so much.

It’s a situation one woman on Reddit is all too familiar with. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a few years ago, and her husband responded by cheating on her while she was in treatment. (Wow, we love him already.) Our OP (aka original poster, or the person who wrote the post) took him back afterwards, but now her husband is the one having a health scare, and it’s bringing up all sorts of emotions for our OP — namely, that she’s not so sure she wants to be in this marriage after all, and Reddit sees where she’s coming from. Keep reading for the full story and Reddit’s response.

 

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A Benign Tumor

A Benign Tumor
A Benign Tumor

OP’s husband recently had a cancer scare after discovering what turned out to be a benign tumor. According to the doctor, they got lucky; if it had been cancerous (which it still could become), “he would’ve likely ended up bedridden and needing my care,” OP wrote.

OP’s husband thanked her for “sticking by his side” through the stressful situation, which is making OP “sick with guilt, because I don’t want to stay.”

OP’s Husband Betrayed Her

OP’s Husband Betrayed Her
OP’s Husband Betrayed Her

That’s when OP shared her own side of the story. She had ovarian cancer a few years ago, and instead of getting support and care from her husband, she found out he was cheating on her. “He cried and begged for forgiveness,” OP writes.

She says she thought she could get over it and that their marriage would be stronger because of it, especially because men cheating are common in OP’s family background. “My mom stayed with my cheating dad and even took in my half sibling,” she explains.

OP Is Reevaluating

OP Is Reevaluating
OP Is Reevaluating

It sounds like OP’s husband has put in some effort since, and she says he’s been a “great husband” after his cheating came to light. But his health scare is putting things into perspective for OP. “I’m looking at taking care of someone who couldn’t take care of me. Who cheated on me instead of helping me,” she writes. “My mom had to help wipe my ass because I couldn’t do it. And he was out cheating.”

Yeah… we see where she’s coming from. As OP says, she can and has taken care of people she’s loved in the past, “but I can’t do it for him.”

Confused

Confused
Confused

Now, OP feels like an “awful person” and is also questioning why the health scare ended up being the trigger for these feelings after believing she’d moved on from his cheating. “Why do I feel betrayed now? Why do I want to leave when he potentially is the most vulnerable?”

Reddit’s Response

Reddit’s Response
Reddit’s Response

OP posted her story and questions in Reddit’s r/relationship_advice forum for some input, and Redditors were quick to sympathize with her experience.

“You’re not an awful person for helping him through one of the hardest times in his life and realizing that when it was your turn previously he was not there for you,” wrote the top commenter with 4.7k up-votes. “You’re not awful for wanting to leave someone who doesn’t have your back while you are willing to have theirs.” They pointed out that OP no longer trusts her husband to be there for her because he wasn’t when she needed him most. “You’re a better person to him than he was to you and you no longer respect him for it,” they said, adding that it was “perfectly valid” for OP to leave.

OP responded to this commenter, thanking them for their input and agreeing with their assessment. “I just wonder if my cancer returned somehow, would he take care of me? … Because the last time, he just cheated instead.” She’s been “clinging” to the belief that if she was a good wife, he wouldn’t cheat on her — and it sounds like she’s starting to realize it was never about her being a good wife at all. (As another commenter said, “men don’t cheat because of their wife, they cheat because they are cheaters… You’re leaving because his scare made you realize you aren’t in love with him anymore, which is a totally valid reason to divorce.”)

Another commenter observed that this health scare was essentially “a wake up call,” while others encouraged OP to be with someone “loyal and honest,” and that it was totally understandable to be triggered by a situation that brought up feelings from her own cancer experience. “Even though the roles were reversed, it still brings so much trauma to the surface to walk those same steps,” one Redditor wrote. Now OP knows that she’s not over the cheating, they added, which is totally reasonable. “At this point the best thing you can do is take care of yourself. If that means leaving, then that’s exactly what you do.”

We think this commenter is on the right track. It’s devastating to realize that your partner won’t reciprocate the love and effort you give to them, especially when they come up short at the moment you need them the most. In those moments, it’s easy to see why someone like OP would respond by holding on even tighter to the person who hurt them; she was going through an incredibly hard time, and giving up the man she loved (even after he hurt her) probably felt like one step too far.

But after having these years to reflect, and a similar situation to bring up the feelings again, she’s realizing that she deserves better than someone who would abandon her when she needed help. We definitely support OP moving on from her husband, whenever she’s ready to do it.