Man Postpones Wedding To Live With Ex Wife To Support Her Through Cancer Treatment, And His Fiancée Is Conflicted
But what would you do in this situation? Someone is clearly in need of help, but someone else's needs are being ignored.
u/engagedthrowaway---- told us the tale:
My [26F] fiance's [28M] ex-wife [28F] has cancer. He's moved in with her and postponed our wedding.
"Max" and I dated for two years and have been engaged for 9 months, with the wedding date set for early January. We have a healthy, honest relationship, and I've never had any reason to doubt him.
He and "Caroline" were high school sweethearts who married very young (They were both twenty-two, right out of college). They divorced after two years. Max told me that they got married too quickly and didn't realise how different their relationship would be in the "real world," i.e. when they were both working full-time jobs and struggling to pay the rent. They split up on good terms, but didn't keep in touch. He remained in our home city, while she pursued a modelling career and began travelling extensively.
Three months ago, Caroline contacted Max over Facebook out of the blue, saying she was in town and wanted to meet for coffee. He agreed. Over coffee, she told him that she had recently been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Her odds of survival were low, but she was determined to fight it through surgery and chemo. She said that all she wanted was for Max to be by her side throughout her treatment.
Caroline's parents died shortly after she married Max. She has no siblings and the rest of her family lives overseas. She described Max as the closest thing to family she has left.
I absolutely sympathise with Caroline. The next day Max had her over to our apartment and she was completely lovely, clearly trying very hard to be optimistic even in the face of her life potentially ending before she turns 30. I feel terrible for her and for the situation that she's in, and I fully supported Max being there for her.
Her first surgery was later that month. Max flew across the country (we live on the east coast, she's on the west) and checked into a hotel a few minutes from her apartment. He's a writer, so working from his laptop is no issue. We spoke on the phone or on Skype almost every day for the two weeks he was over there.
Caroline had her surgery at the beginning of June. Unfortunately, it was not entirely successful. Her doctors moved to the next method, chemo.
Max came home after her surgery to tell me this. He explained that Caroline's treatment plan was set to begin in July and end in late January. It would be an incredibly difficult time period for her, and she wanted him with her at all times.
We can't afford to pay for a hotel until January, so he moved into her apartment, sleeping on her sofa. He's been there for the past month and we continue to Skype, though only a couple times a week now. When we spoke yesterday, Max gently told me that based on Caroline's condition, he wouldn't feel right leaving her so close to the end of her treatment. He'd like for us to postpone the wedding until February, at the very least, so that he can stay with her until her treatment is over.
I'm so conflicted. I feel awful for resenting Caroline at all - she has cancer! She's suffering immensely. But the resentment is still there. I resent her for needing Max constantly holding her hand, as though she has absolutely no friends of her own. I resent Max, too, for agreeing to this situation. We won't be seeing each other in person for months now, on top of our wedding being postponed.
I don't know what to do. I have no idea how I'm supposed to feel. Right now I'm just full of anger and guilt, and I don't know how to explain it to anyone else in my life.
Here were some of the answers.
He's intending on living with his ex until February?
And you are to do what? Just wait?
No, your resentment and discomfort is not wrong.
I feel intense sympathy for her, for your partner, absolutely. Death is a terrifying cold thing.
But he's supposed to be with you. It was not her right to ask him to be with her as a husband is through this horror.
(Did she ask you?)
My fear is...okay, so February comes, her chemo's done, now she's weak and miserable from chemo. Is he going to leave her then, feeling like that?
He should not have asked you over Skype. He should have been there in person.
When is the next time you are supposed to see him?
You have the right to resent Max, he picked his ex-wife over his fiance.
He may 'feel' like he has a responsibility to her but he has a responsibility to his future wife. He is asking you to put your life on hold for his ex-wife.
You absolutely have the right to feel angry about this.
Can you see yourself marrying him after this?
I've read your edit, and I think you also need to confront the lack of communication as well. I don't understand how Max is unable to Skype you or call you on google hangouts at least everyday. Even if it's going on while he's working on writing, at least you would have time to see him online. It seems ridiculous that you can't just get a hold of him when you need to, while Caroline can.
I think all of you painting Caroline as if she did something wrong are stupid. Max deserves 100% of the blame. Caroline is allowed to ask whoever she wants whatever she wants to ask them.
Max is allowed to say "no, ex-wife, I won't leave my wife-to-be for you, not now, not ever", and not face any judgement, because what an absurd thing that is to do.
OP, I don't know how you can possibly recover from this one. You are not selfish to leave this relationship. You are not selfish to tell him he comes home right now or it's over. You're not selfish to resent him or her for what they've put on you, but you should make sure you understand that HE is 100% to blame for this. He, at every moment along this path, should've taken a look around and realized he was engaged to you, not her, and it is not his fault that she has no one closer than him.
Also, he's literally living with his ex-wife. Can you imagine any circumstance where a guy leaves his fiancee to live with his ex-wife and they aren't, at the very least, cuddling and extremely emotionally intimate?
I'd be done with him, if I was you, what an obscenely selfish man.
Her request that he pick up his life and live with her indefinitely is extremely unreasonable. She will likely die, but what if she hangs on for years of painful treatment? Will he be expected to be there through all that? Will you be expected to just wait it out and not start your married life? And I know you say she sees him as family, but she's not treating him well at all if she's asking him to completely derail his future to provide her with a better present.
Yes, she has cancer and that's awful. But that does not give her license to hijack your husband. Her expectations are outrageous, but your husband is the real problem. Not only has he abandoned you physically, but he hardly ever contacts you. He gives Caroline 24/7 attention but can't be bothered to skype with you every day? Dude....
I had a similar situation like this with a cousin of mine. He was dying of cancer and he moved in with his ex-wife and his ex-wife's current husband. And she took care of him until he passed away. And that was really all there was to it. So it could be a legitimate show of compassion.
But you are in a unique situation with you not living in the same place as him as well as not being married. My sympathies are with you and I hope you find your way.
He's honestly acting like he's still married to her. Please be careful and anticipate him maybe turning around and telling you he's fallen in love with her again. Also prepare yourself to deal with a heavily broken fiance once she passes. He's getting too involved in this, good terms or no. Even if she is sick, they no longer have wedding vows. They're divorced. Yet, he's still up keeping his "in sickness and in health" portion of the vow. That's incredibly unfair to you. It's incredibly rude and inconsiderate of her to just call upon your fiance to take of her because she's sick. I understand she has no one, but she's disrupting your future with your fiance.
A lot of couples realize they committed too young, split, and remain close friends. It's normal for friends to support one another and it wouldn't be unreasonable for him to stay a little while to help her make arrangements and get settled. Especially if she doesn't have a huge support network.
But moving in with her and pushing your wedding back? What about YOU? What about your relationship and your future and what about what you need? What if you should get sick or injured while he's living there? You've been completely supplanted and truthfully, if I were you, I probably would end the relationship.
It might be over by January/February, and he might come home by then. So, you get to be all alone for the next 4-5 months, doing all the wedding planning and prep yourself? Just in time for him to bop home and put the ring on your finger?
And are your finances combined? Is some of your money being used to pay for all the trips?
How much do you want to bet that his ex will beg him to stay after this round of treatment is up? She feels so weak, so sick, he's like her family. Riiiight. So, what, then you get to postpone the wedding?
Balls to that.
He needs to get his *ss on a plane and return now. It's not your problem, nor your husband's problem, to make her feel better. Maybe she should've made more of an effort to maintain strong relationships and a good support network of family and friends. This is YOUR TIME with YOUR fiancé. He can Skype her and visit every few months, but that's it. Seriously, he expects you to put your lives together on hold? F***ing seriously? You're not a 1950s housewife of a military man who has been deployed.
They did not keep in contact. That she is demanding him to be there for her is utterly selfish. She had a good life, traveled a lot. I am sure she made good friends.
I don't think he is closer to her than her relatives. It is not his duty to be there for her. If even the relatives cannot come to visit her, why should he?
Also, postponing the wedding would not be an option for me.
There is no reason that he has to spend all that tine before the wedding with her. If she were important, they would have stayed in touch.
I lost a friend through cancer - but not once was she this demanding at any time.
You should set clear boundaries with your future husband.
The worst human beings are those who cloak it behind a facade of righteousness.
"Oh, I'll ditch my fiance for a year to live with a model whom I used to have sex with. But I'm totally a great guy, because she has cancer."
sad trombone noise
Max is living with his ex. She was his first love. She is probably dying of cancer. Oh yea, she's also beautiful enough to have traveled the world through modeling. Sorry girl, but there is no way they haven't slept together. While her situation is very sad, it is completely unreasonable for Max to ask that you put your relationship and life on hold until she recovers or passes. If she recovers, they'll get back together. If she dies, he'll be heartbroken. In neither situation do you get the man that you once wanted to marry.
If I were you I would probably just chose to break up with him. Honestly, he does not seem like he is in a good place to be married and traumatic experience like these can make emotions and feeling very confusing. I would just remove myself from the picture and tell him to go.
I mean, I would personally not fly out to stay with someone unless they were for sure terminal. Because once you're terminal they pump you full of needs until you pass. But since she isn't terminal yet, he should just visit and not stay with her. Because she could possibly live through it or not, but it's not his responsibility to her to wait it out. It would be too emotionally draining and could bring up false emotions. I don't think either of them had bad intentions with this, but it can't easily turn into a sticky situation. I would have him return home until she had gone terminal and then go from there.
One of my best friends, Dave, was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer in March, he passed away last month. Throughout the end of his life his former life partner, Lindsey, was by his side as much as she could be, which was extremely challenging for her because she was also planning her wedding, which happened the weekend after he passed. Her husband to be, Dan, supported Lindsey and Dave as much as they could as Dave transitioned out of his life. It was extremely challenging for everyone. I don't know if Lindsey was still in love with Dave, although she clearly loved him deeply. How could she not? They spent so much of their lives as team mates, they knew each other so well. Beyond their romance was a genuine deep connection. There was no way Lindsey would have not been there for him. If Dan had asked her not to I don't know if they could have continued on in their relationship.
I don't think he would have asked that of her though. There is something extremely sacred about a person's death that kind of...cancels out all the other bullshit. When someone you love or have loved is leaving this planet the right thing to do is to be there for them and hold their hand while they go through the pain, the loss, and the passing. That is the right thing for him to do.
I don't know what the nature of your relationship with your husband is, how you deal with jealousy specifically, but I do know that the death of a loved one comes above all else. I think you should support him as much as he needs it. He needs to be there for her, he has made that clear. Try not to take it as a you versus her decision. This is very very different than any of the other decisions he has to make about your relationship. Because, it's not about your relationship... it's about her leaving this world... one of the most powerful experiences this life has to offer...
This isn't to say that you should be excluded or closed off from him. He needs to include you, his current partner, in this process with his former partner. Can you handle that? These are new territories for you, him, and her. Maybe you can all work together to process this together? You don't have to be excluded from this and I'm sure your husband would benefit from your support.
I'm so sorry you're all going through this. I'd love to talk more with you about this and what my friends went through, as I was very close with Dave. PM me if you want to talk.
I've ended a long term relationship with an ex-fiancé before. We had dated from high school into our mid-twenties. Neither of were closed to our families and for a long time, we were each other's worlds.
Then we grew up and our worlds grew bigger. One day, she wanted to go left and I wanted to go right so we split.
I loved her and part of me will always wonder what could have been.
Years later, she called me in a crisis. A new relationship had gone south in a tragic way. A child had been conceived, abuse, two thousand miles from home and no money.
This was my opportunity to show her, to show myself, that I was better than she believed. That I was strong enough to rescue her and could finally silence all doubts cast by her, her friends, her family,
So I left my house, took time off work, kissed my wonderful girlfriend on the cheek and drove two thousand miles and moved her and the child two thousand miles home.
It was dumb but it was also something that I needed to do. See, it wasn't about sex. It wasn't about her. It was about rescuing someone that represented my youth and carefree days that we're starting to seem so distant the longer I spent working late nights in an office. It was about proving to myself that i was dependable, strong, and capable. And part of it was because I still loved her.
Maybe your fiancé is dumb like I was. Maybe he's scared that you two will soon marry and he left his last marriage in failure. Maybe he sees this as a chance to prove something or fix something he can't quite put into words. Maybe he still loves his ex like I loved mine... Not in that romantic or sexual way but like some cherished memento of something that once was.
I don't know. I guess I'm saying is before you go issue an ultimatum, you two should talk about why he's doing this. I promise you, it's not sex.
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.