Dear Annie: My daughter, “Elizabeth,” is a professional who is married to an older man. I’ll call him “Jacob.” They have two children.
Elizabeth recently was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is going through intense chemotherapy. Early in her treatment, Jacob used to help a lot around the house with laundry and meals, and took good care of the kids. But she is halfway through her treatments, and although Jacob still looks after Elizabeth and the children, he expects her to do a lot more around the house. Of course, as soon as Elizabeth feels a little strong, she goes beyond her capacity and does too much.
This aggravates me. Elizabeth never demands that Jacob help more. I had an argument with him over it. On the day of one of her treatments, I reminded him to be home in time to pick up the oldest child from school. He replied, “I will see when I will be finished at my mother’s.” I told him that on the day of the chemo, he cannot leave his wife alone with two children, supper and homework time. It is very tiring for her. He said he does not need to be reminded. Then we got into an argument, and he said we do not love him, we only do things for our daughter, and we are lucky he does not close the door in our faces.
Annie, I worry about Elizabeth’s strength. We help as much as we can by cooking some meals, picking up the oldest from school, helping him with homework and taking the youngest so Elizabeth can rest. But Jacob allows her to do the laundry, cooking and shopping while he cuts the bushes, cleans the gutters and prays (he is very religious). She is not going to get well if she is exhausted.
My sweet daughter always takes her husband’s side, and my husband tells me to look after my own health, because I had a mild heart attack a few months ago. How do we handle this?
— Distraught Mother
Dear Distraught: We know you want Jacob to take over all of these chores, and we agree that he should do more on the days when Elizabeth has her chemo. But try to be more compassionate. Jacob is going through a difficult period, too, and also needs a break.
Please do what you can for your daughter’s family. It is a great help when you can cook a meal or take the kids. If you can afford to hire someone to assist on the days when Elizabeth has a chemo treatment, that would be an amazing gift. Otherwise, please back off a bit. You are not helping yourself or your daughter by getting into fights with her husband and adding stress to her life.
Dear Annie: “Iowa” wrote to say that her mother suggested she put down her 13-year-old cat because he has diabetes. She was upset that Mom was so negative. But Mom may be wiser than you think.
I cared for my 18-year-old diabetic cat, who needed insulin shots daily. While the shots are easy to administer, the main problem is having to schedule your entire life around those injections. If “Iowa” is still in school, has a boyfriend and perhaps a part-time job and a busy social calendar, she might discover the responsibility of daily shots at regular times is a lot to incorporate. I was unable to accept a job that required irregular shifts and had to forgo summer vacations that involved being out of town unless I could take my cat with me.
Because I made significant sacrifices for my cat, she enjoyed a good quality of life for five years. But the commitment is far more than just poking the cat with a needle. It is a major responsibility she cannot shirk when something more interesting comes up.
— Lifetime Cat Lover
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