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Mom Of Two Who Survived Cancer Asks If She’s Wrong To Divorce Financially-Abusive Husband

Divorcing couple with children
Rapeepong Puttakumwong/Getty Images

As nauseating as it sounds, it’s becoming increasingly common for men to leave their partners when they’re diagnosed with cancer or a similar chronic condition.

It seems they’re often not invested enough in the relationship to see it as ‘worth it’ after the diagnosis, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITAH) subReddit.

Redditor TechnicalScarcity880 had not been feeling connected to her husband emotionally or physically in a long time, so when she was diagnosed with cancer, and he treated her even worse, she contemplated getting a divorce if she made it through her treatment.

When her treatment proved to be successful, the Original Poster (OP) considered what she should actually do going forward.

She asked the sub:

“AITAH for wanting a divorce after cancer?”

The OP’s relationship took a downward turn when she was diagnosed with cancer.

“I (35 Female) and my husband (36 Male) have been married for eight years and together for 11.”

“We’ve got two kids (ages 6 and 8).”

“Last year, I was diagnosed with cancer. Although the treatment was brutal, I pulled through, or so it seems for now.”

The OP realized she and her husband wanted very different lives.

“The truth is, things have not been smooth for the past five years or so. I have been trying to fit in what my husband sees as an ideal life, living in remote locations and adjusting my life to make it work for us as a family. His dream is to live by the ocean, far from people.”

“I’m a city girl. For the sake of making it work for both of us, I’ve taken jobs that are well below my abilities. For him though it does look like it’s what I wanted. It only was because, at that point, it was the only available thing given the compromise.”

“My husband was living his dream life, not even realizing that my resentment was building up. I did bring this up many times, but he was dismissive.”

“Things blew up two times. He saw me ‘flirting’ with other guys (I never even kissed anyone, but it was an emotional betrayal probably), though I had no intention to do anything but talk.”

“I gave up alcohol three years ago to make sure I’m always in control and don’t do stupid s**t that can ruin my relationship.”

The OP didn’t feel connected to her husband at all anymore for many reasons.

“My husband is a great father. I’ve never had a father like that. He loves our children, and they have a great relationship. So do I with my kids.”

“But he isn’t a great partner. He asks me every day about my day but never really listens to what I say. He keeps talking about his work but doesn’t notice me.”

“He makes a lot more than me (seven to ten times more), but insists that we pay everything 50/50 ‘to keep it fair.’ During the past years, I’ve been covering more expenses than him, and I was working full-time during my treatment. He never offered to pay for any extras. In his book, there were years (my pregnancies) when I was paying less, so now it’s fair that I pay more.”

“I don’t feel emotionally connected to him at all, either. And I don’t want to have sex with him. I have a history of abuse, and I need an emotional connection to enjoy sex. But for the past five years, he’s been only touching me if and when he needs sex. I’ve given in so many times and cried after because it felt like I’ve betrayed myself, but I had to do it because he needs it, and I’m a spouse.”

The OP thought it might be time to move on with her life.

“So now, I’ve been still contemplating divorce for over eight months. I’m out of treatment, and I don’t know if I’m gonna stay healthy for a long time. But I’m tired of compromises.”

“He is a nice guy, and we’re planning to start therapy, but I just want to live a new life. Therapy seems like a burden to me because I’m already going for my past trauma, and he only wants to do couple’s therapy to help us ‘compromise’ more.”

“AITAH for wanting a divorce?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some reassured the OP that she needed to do what would best serve her now.

“Divorced cancer alumna here. I could have written this post!”

“My ex was wildly unsupportive during my treatment and insisted on me providing more financially than him despite my years of volunteering at his business which delayed my career. It took me 18 years to leave him, but I’ve never been happier. We don’t have kids, so I can’t speak to that.”

“Allowing yourself to be happy is not an a**hole thing to do.” – Background_Sink_3188


“Just one thing, OP, how would you feel if your daughter’s spouse treated her the way your husband is treating you?”

“If you say that you wouldn’t be okay with that, and I’m sure you wouldn’t be, then why not do it for yourself? By staying in this toxic relationship, you’re only showing your daughter that it’s okay to be treated this way.”

“Children grow up idolizing their parents’ relationship, and by staying where you’re treated this way, you’re showing her that this is what is right and is expected of her. Compromise your happiness to make your husband happy.”

“If you love your daughter enough to not want this for her, then why not love yourself enough to leave? You deserve happiness too, OP.” – No-Philosophy-3257

“Working full-time during cancer treatments AND covering more expenses than the husband during her treatment!”

“What totally floored me was the husband’s logic that, with OP having cancer treatments, ‘now is the time to pay him back’ when OP was earning less because she was having and raising his two children!! He’s treating the time she was “off work” raising HIS children as something that creates an IOU…”

“Run, OP. Run.”

“And wishing you continued good health and clear scans!” – Elegant-Nature-6220

“Divorce, be happy! OP has been given a ‘second chance’ by being better after treatment.”

“Enjoy the days ahead with your children OP, and you might find that cutting that ‘cancer’ out of your life will invigorate you and make you feel free!” – Petitelechat

“NTA. Life is too short (as you’ve recently experienced, and it looks like you beat it!)! Do what you feel you need to! No one should feel guilty ending a relationship anyway because when you stay after you no longer want to, things always go very downhill.”

“The fact that he did play the 50/50 game while you had cancer made me nauseous. I’m so sorry for how you’re feeling.”

“Instead of therapy, I’d set up an appointment with an attorney and say I had to lay down because I didn’t feel well so we should reschedule for another time. Prepare.” – klynn1220

Others were appalled at how the OP’s husband was approaching their finances.

“I make four times what my wife does. We have no separate accounts and completely shared finances. How on earth can people who split finances not take into account income differences? That’s not fair at all.”

“I’ve had many people tell me how they need to have separate finances. This is fine, but expenses need to be split based on the income ratio, not 50/50. Same with vacations etc.”

“I also don’t know how separate finance households figure out retirement savings or disposable income, but I guess it would work so long as there is fairness.”

“I don’t see how two people could share a life together when one is living a very different lifestyle than the other.” – ThePhotoYak

“My husband earns maybe 40 percent more than me, and all our money is combined in one pot. I don’t understand how you can run a household but have completely separate finances.”

“And with that income disparity, one is likely living paycheck to paycheck while the other has tons of money. It makes no sense if they actually care about the other person to watch them live like that.” – freesecj

“Imagine loving someone so much that you refuse to take care of them and nickel and dime them. The Spirit Airlines of husbands. Wow.” – fiveordie

“I’m having a lot of trouble visualizing their financial situation. Either OP is making like 15,000 dollars per year while her husband is making 100 to 150 thousand, and they are living destitute (the only way OP could share 50 percent of finances at that little income), or OP is making 30,000 while her husband is clearing 200 thousand, and they are still living very modestly, in which case the (comparatively) small contributions from OP are negligible to him.”

“To be making seven to ten times the salary and still be nickel and diming is insane.” – T_Money


“Literally, let’s consider that he saw her working during her cancer treatments as her moment to REPAY him. To repay him for a time when she was BIRTHING and raising their two children, which is WHY her income decreased in the first place.”

“But he doesn’t see that labor as valid and still estimates that he owes some debt to him? AND SHE STILL CALLS HIM A NICE GUY? The bar is in h**l, and OP sees once inch above the floor as a ‘good guy.’ If that is a ‘good guy,’ what is a ‘good father’ in her opinion? Bare minimum cruelty again?”

“She sacrificed the life and job she wanted for him, had to work through cancer treatment with little support from her husband to cover most of the bills associated with a life she doesn’t want, is being treated as a debtor for raising his two children, and she calls him a good guy.”

“Girl, I want better for you.” – jutrmybe

Some shared their terrible stories of their relationships falling apart after being diagnosed.

“My ex-husband divorced me as I was in hospice officially terminal with cancer.”

“He said we ‘wanted different things,’ as if I wanted cancer and he wanted freedom.”

“Within the year, he had gotten his new wife pregnant.” – GraceOfTheNorth

“My ex literally told me he was tired of taking care of me. Yes, I have a chronic health issue, but I also worked full time and outearned him while he took a night job so he could golf with his buddies during the day.” – Any_Weakness_1548

“My ex denied it was about the disease, but the disruption caused by it had him in an affair with a younger, healthier employee. Like, 25 years younger.”

“And when I asked him later when he decided he ‘wasn’t in love’ with me anymore, it was the summer I was diagnosed.” – ablackwashere

“Cancer and chronic illness cause divorce and separation at a high rate. Women are sometimes warned by medical providers after their diagnosis.”

“That information is almost everywhere now, warnings and pamphlets with information about where to get help if the husband walks out on his wife.”

“My SIL was diagnosed with cancer and then was given one of those pamphlets, just in case. After that, she cried all the way home. Thank God her husband was her rock and still is there for her.” – Superb-Head7118

The subReddit was appalled on the OP’s behalf and wondered how the OP had put up with this living situation for as long as she had. She had a second chance after completing her cancer treatment, and it seemed important for her to take advantage of that second chance by leaning into a life that actually made her happy.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.