Ask Dr. Giles: My husband glares at me and doesn’t speak to me as if he’s angry.

Charlotte asks:

I am a 67 year old female with CC diagnosed in Jan 2010 and doing very well from a cancer perspective. I am having a lot of hip pain requiring a walker so my husband has to help with carrying laundry up and down stairs and going to the grocery. He says he “doesn’t mind doing it” but glares at me if I ask and rarely speaks to me as if he is angry. He is fine with other people. My concern is what happens when I approach the end of my life. I feel like I don’t want to fight sometimes and just hurry up and die. I am not depressed and do many of the things I enjoy. I would rather live alone than experience this.


It sounds like you feel are getting mixed signals from your husband. He says he doesn’t mind helping, but then seems to glare and clam up when you ask for help.

Please talk to him about this. You may want to say to him–in the kindest, most caring way you know how, “Honey, what’s wrong? You seem upset about something,” and see what he says. If he says (and he probably will), “Oh, nothing,” then you might respond, “I’ve noticed that sometimes when I ask for help, it seems to bother you. Are you feeling overwhelmed?” Then let him answer. The words “noticed” and “sometimes” are important because they soften your observation and keep your statement from sounding absolute. If he still says it’s nothing, then let it drop. When it happens again, gently address it again. You may have to repeat your attempts several times, but one of two things will happen: either he will talk to you about it, or he will change his response to your requests for help.

When he opens up about how he is feeling, be sure to thank him for telling you what was wrong and plead with him to tell you sooner in the future so you and he won’t have so many misunderstandings.