Saturday, December 19, 2009

Should She Tell?

When you live with a woman for over thirty-five years, you have a tendency to pick up on her moods. Anger is simple, especially (and mostly) when I am the target. So is happiness and sadness. Sex is a crapshoot, meaning yes, no, or let me get back to you on that sometime next week.

The easiest mood for me to notice, however, is when something is bothering her. I not only see it, but I can also feel it—bummer electrons, I think they call them. Martha, by nature, is not a worrier; she takes things as they come, deals with them, and then moves on. For the past month or so, though, she’s been bothered.

But try to get anything out of her when I ask, “What’s the matter, honey?” “Nothing,” she replies, which is the most aggravating non-answer in the world. I learned a long time ago not to push her because it makes her angry. So she stews in her own juices, while I sit around with my one tooth in my head and worry.

Don’t you worry because all of this is leading somewhere; you all know me and my problem with verbosity.

During December, Martha has had several use-or-lose vacation days. She scheduled an appointment with her female gynecologist for a “wellness check,” which led to some testing—blood work, bone density, an ultrasound of her pelvic bone, and yesterday, the thrill of them all: a mammogram (she once used the analogy of having her boobs slammed in the car door), as well as an ultrasound of the same.

So last night at the supper table, I finally found out what Martha has been brooding about: a lump she found in her right breast. The doctor who reviewed the mammogram and ordered the ultrasound met with her to assure her that it is no more than a drainable cyst.

I’m super thrilled for her, but I’m also pissed off.

“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I asked.

“I didn’t want to worry you.”

“Don’t you think that I’ve been worried already, knowing that something was wrong, but all I get is evasiveness and mumbling? I thought we were in this together, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health?”

Martha apologized, and I felt lower than a worm’s belly button for getting angry, and then I grabbed her and hugged her as hard as I could.

So now, I have a couple questions for you, my dear readers:

Was I a self-centered horse’s ass putting my own worry above her's?

Most of all, should couples share their medical concerns and suspicions with their partners?


Diane said...

Okay Charlie, let me just say that Martha sounds a lot like me. I keep my troubles zipped, and when I'm too too quiet or give one word answers, my husband starts to worry "what did I do or say that pissed her off now". Your reaction was normal, and us ladies are all different, so my advice is just "go with the flow", and remember this "happy wife, happy life"....LOL

Seriously, so happy Martha is fine....whewwww

savannah said...

OMG, sugar! i can speak to this directly as y'all know. #1 even after 35 years you were not a self-centered ass and #2 couples SHOULD ABSOLUTELY share medical concerns worries's about good times, bad times, well times and most of all never letting your partner be blindsided! i am so, so, soooooo happy martha is ok! i love you both and y'all have my heart! xoxoxoxo

Wandering Coyote said...

I'm not sure I want to weigh in on this one...

Well, she knew you knew something was up and that you were stewing yourself...So, I think she should have told you.

But I see her side of it, too. She didn't want to burden you. I get that.

You are there to support each other, and I wouldn't keep important medical stuff from my spouse. When I get a spouse, that is...

Tiffin said...

I agree with Savannah: never let your partner be blindsided. And as you wrote, Charlie, you knew anyway. You just didn't know what. I always know too and so does Himself, so you might as well say what it is so the fertile imaginations we are blessed with don't run madly off in all directions.

That said, I don't do drama queen and don't enjoy it when others do Sarah Heartburn either. Just say what it is, say "I'm stewing about it", accept the gestures of comfort from the other and Keep Calm, Carry On.

Glad Martha is ok. REALLY glad!

Fay's Too said...

A man who picks up on moods and asks about them is a rare thing and probably not an ass.

I'm so glad Martha's breasticals are fine.

mapstew said...

I'm just so glad all is well.
Now get back to yer lovin'! :¬)

Robert the Skeptic said...

Good or bad, there is nothing I would keep from my wife nor she from me. We have complete and total trust in one another. We would live it any other way.

Attila The Mom said...

I dunno. I have had a few female issues over the years, and until I was absolutely sure of what they were, I kept it to myself. Hubby tends to be a little over solicitous and although I know it's because he loves me, being treated with kid gloves can tend to grate after awhile...or make me panic more while waiting. ;-)

Peter S. said...

Hi, Charlie! The question you posed is somewhat tricky. For one, I can totally understand where Martha is coming from. That's a lot to deal with on your own, and sometimes, you think about whether you want to share this piece of news with your partner. On the other hand, I feel that partners should share these things with one another. So I guess, my answer to that would be, yes, these things should be shared. But, the other person should only share whenever he or she is ready.

Stella said...

Hey Charlie, think I'm a bit like Martha, tend not to share, but like you, Dave knows when I'm worried about something. Have a similar situation myself, found a lump in my breast, but this time I did share with himself. Didn't want to, dreaded it cos I knew he'd panic and actually I guess I'm not being completely honest as I played it down. Anyway I knew I couldn't keep it from him, as if it turns out to be bad news he'd be so upset that I didn't tell him.

Stella said...

p.s. We all try to protect our loves ones, that's why Martha didn't tell you.

Stella said...

p.p.s. Delighted Martha's turned out to be harmless : )

Kim Ayres said...

It's a relief to hear Martha's OK.

Personally, whenever anyone asks what I think the answer is to a lasting relationship, my answer is communication, communication, communication.

The imagination can create far worse scenarios and horrors than reality. And when we know something is going on, but not what, it's far worse.

Not knowing is very often far worse than knowing the worst.

Hug her, squeeze her, and call her a silly fool.

But then I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know in spades :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I am so glad that Martha will be okay. As for your question about sharing this information, I have to admit that I can see both sides (being a textbook Libra and all). If I were you, of course I would want to know and would feel it only fair that I be told. But if I were Martha, I would need time to process it myself first before sharing with anyone, even my husband.

So you are both right!

Kevin Musgrove said...

I'm relieved that Martha's fine. And I sympathise entirely with you about the bummer-electron thing.

Having said that, I'm in no position at all to tell anybody off for not saying what's worrying them so's not to upset anybody!

Charlie said...

On behalf of Martha, thanks to all of you for wishing her well.

And thanks for all the comments so far. The question I posed falls pretty much into two camps: Yes, tell your partner and no, don't tell.

I respect everyone's opinion, but I side with the "do tellers" when it comes to a major, life- threatening issue. Savannah has just been through this, another commenter has heart problems, and Stella is apparently going through it right now. And as two have said, it's better to know than to be blindsided. Kim is correct about communication, something that sometimes get lost in a long-term relationship.

I also agree with Attila and Peter: thinking it through first and then finding the right time (and way) to talk to your partner.

I knew the question would not be easy, and that's the value of a blog: getting opinions from my friends.

I hope this is not the end of the discussion. I welcome additional comments and opinions, and hopefully some new folks will wander in.

Pat said...

What Kim said but it has to be a two way thing. I readily share my worries and concerns but have to worm the same from MTL - sounds rather like Martha.
Great that it is good news.

John Atkinson said...

Professor, like you said; you are in it together. My wife and I have gone through cancer treatments and after 40 years of marriage, the rubber met the road. Please visit my blog and scroll down to Miracle Woman. Best

Anonymous said...

Glad everything is okay. Having grown up with two people who thought a hangnail was cause for concern and worry I lean toward Martha on this one. If I'm worried I don't want to worry my husband if nothing is wrong. Once there is something wrong it needs to be shared. That's just me and I always need time to process news myself before being ready to talk about it.

Charlie said...

PAT: If it's not a two-way thing then it's not communication. I think YTL should tell you important things without you having to use a shovel to get the information. But YTL doesn't want to worry you.

JOHN: Thank you for finding me and sharing your incredible story. I think everyone should read A Miracle Woman

STACY: You fit right in with Attila and Peter.

What all this thread boils down to is my original question: should she tell, or shouldn't she?

koonsmother said...

I'm coming in late to this discussion, and I see there has been a lot of wise talk here. Hope it's helping you sort this out, Charlie. I'm on your side---communication is essential, and one partner certainly deserves to know about something as important as a threat to health and well-being. HOWEVER, (you knew one was coming, didn't you?) I know what Martha was thinking---"Until I say it out loud to Charlie, it isn't really happening." So she held off saying it out loud to you for a while. So keep talking, and don't put on the pressure. Maybe another time (god forbid) she will share sooner.

Meg said...

Funny. Joe was just after me the other day for doing the same thing. I think couples should share these things, though I do have a hard time convincing myself to do it at times.