Daniel Gottlieb, Ph.D., a practicing psychologist and family therapist, will be live in this section every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. ET. Leave a question or comment anytime for him!
Your husbands injury is still very new and he has had little time to adjust. He is very angry at his demise and believe it or not, mad at you and your children for putting up with his bad behaviour. If he were still able bodied, would you be putting up with the way he is behaving? You need to remind him of that. Remind him that he is still the head of the family and is still a driving force as to where the family will now. You do not need to be mean to him but you need to stand up to his anger without getting in to an arguement. Do not let the injury win.
I'm wondering: when you say your husband is refusing therapy, is it physical therapy or counseling that he is saying "no" to?
Do you think he'd be agreeable to a peer counselor, someone who has faced similar situaztions and feelings?
thanks so much for joining this discussion group. Spinal cord injury, like other medical and psychological crises, affect more than one person. They even affect more than one family and the suffering ripples out to extended family and neighbors.
And everyone copes differently.
We all know that men have more difficulty feeling their emotions let alone expressing them appropriately. I am a very sensitive and feeling kind of man, but in the year after my accident, I was afraid to feel what I felt. I was afraid to feel the vulnerability, helplessness and worthlessness that were lurking right below the surface. As a matter fact, I was convinced I was a worthless human being for well over that first year. I just faked it!
So how do we deal with those emotions? I got depressed and withdrawn, your husband lashes out. Both are pretty typical reactions to shame – and we all feel great shame when we are publicly vulnerable. So we could go on and conjecture about what he might be feeling and why.
But I am going to take a guess here that you and your children are suffering at least as much as he is if not more. And if you are still in crisis mode, you might not even know what you are feeling and what you need. If you are aware of how your children are suffering and you are sensitive to their needs, then you must have some respite and something that nurtures your spirit in order to manage the life you have right now.
Please do not forgo your social life. Go out with friends, think about how you can return to some semblance of the life you had one year ago. If you were working, could you return at least part time? If you were involved in volunteer activities, it's important that you continue to that. Find something that makes you feel happy and try to do it every day. I know I am asking a lot of you, but your body/soul and your children all need this to happen.
Ideally, your husband would be in psychotherapy and you would also be seen as a family on a regular basis. If that doesn't happen, see if he will go with the family to therapy. If not, please consider just going with your children. But please make sure you find someone who is a. Trained as a family therapist and b: knows something about dealing with the impact of medical problems on the family.
And one of the most important issues here is what your husband and your marriage were both like before this accident.
I hope some of this was helpful for you and I look forward to your future postings.
Please take care. Please
He can meditate, listen to soft music and spend quality time with the family. It will help him and his family to relax.
And I had one other thought.
Even if it's not being verbalized, you are all in the process of renegotiating and re-evaluating roles and rules. He needs to be taken care of physically and he needs compassion for the emotions he feels (to the extent that he can voice them). And you need care and compassion just as much.
I love what Deb said when she said "don't let the disability win". Please tell him what you want of him and how he could help you and do the same with him.
And I want to come back to what I said. If he won't go, please go to counseling either by yourself or with your children. I would prefer a support group if there is one around, but counseling should be helpful also.