The couple has a fundamental role in the face of a diagnosis like this. Empathy and communication is key to getting through it together! That is why it is important that men play an active role so that at the end of the journey this experience strengthens them.
Before the end of breast cancer month, we want to dedicate to the men of #TeamZenzsual some tips to handle the situation that arises when your partner is diagnosed with breast cancer. There are many fears and doubts, but the idea is that together they can become heroes of their own lives, overcoming the unforeseen and challenges that come their way. The important thing is to get energy to move forward and that she feels safe, calm and accompanied throughout the process.
Although they are not the main ones affected by breast cancer , the husbands of the diagnosed patients deserve attention, since many times they can feel more stress than the patients themselves, for having to assume new roles in their daily lives and not knowing how to overcome the new reality.
That is why it is essential that the men in the family find a space for support , containment and empathy, so that they can answer the first questions that come to mind: how will my wife react?, what should I tell her?, how should I act? What will happen to the marriage? And will it ever be possible to resume sexual life?
Some of the most common feelings of men/partners of breast cancer patients are the following: how would you feel?:
- Terror fear
- Uncertainty about the future and the possible loss of your loved one
- Feeling of fear regarding their own mortality
- Eating and sleep disorders
- Feeling of loss of control
Aware of this, at Zenzsual we want to offer them a space for support, emotional expression and feedback that allows them to manage what they are truly feeling. It all starts with trying to understand what is happening to his wife and what is happening to them, their fears and insecurities . Because unlike women, men generally do not show their feelings, but if they realize that other people are experiencing the same thing as them, it is easier for them to open up.
If this is your case, and you see yourself identified in this list. It is completely human and normal to experience any or all of these feelings! The important thing and the healthiest thing to continue is to react and channel them in the best way.
How do men react when their partner is diagnosed with breast cancer?
Once the emotional whirlwind of the first news has passed . When we are faced with a serious situation, we generally defend ourselves or face the situation using one of the eight strategies of the process called precisely "Coping". Each of them is worth checking out:
- The Confrontation : The man aggressively tries to turn things around and reacts hostilely to his wife's illness.
- Distancing: the man withdraws emotionally from the situation and minimizes what is happening, pretending that there is no need to worry too much.
- Self-control: the man is constantly trying to control his emotions and it's like he struggles to keep his composure.
- Seeking help: the man constantly seeks information and help from friends and family to cope with the situation.
- Acceptance of responsibility: the man exaggerates his role of taking charge of the family situation created by his wife's illness and takes charge of finances, housework, etc.
- Escape or avoidance: the man "escapes" from the situation through fantasies and risk behaviors such as: the use of alcohol and drugs.
- The planned resolution of the problem : the man becomes an "analyst" of the situation, thinking that everything has a rational solution and planning each of his days.
- In positive reassessment, the man in the context of his wife's illness focuses on “improving” his spiritual life and that of his partner. For example, finding in religion the tranquility that is sought.
THERE IS NO MAGIC FORMULA TO REACT! but you should always seek balance, avoiding extremes that make the situation more tense than necessary.
Those men who react through the escape to this type of diagnosis generally have more stress and signs of depression than the rest. In addition, if they distance themselves or exaggerate their role in the face of this responsibility, they present high levels of marital dissatisfaction.
In contrast, the planned problem solving strategy was more effective for those spouses whose partners were diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier stage.
Here we go with some particular tips that all men in this situation can implement.
How to help if your wife is diagnosed with breast cancer?
Breast cancer comes without warning, affecting the couple, so it is necessary that we learn to face the situation wisely, without pressure and without higher expectations than the health and union of the family.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind:
- Throughout the process CONTINUOUS DEMONSTRATIONS OF mutual LOVE MUST PREVAIL, in order to grow —from the individual level— and be better people.
- EACH COUPLE IS UNIQUE AND LIVES A PARTICULAR CONTEXT , which should not be compared! Both should take into account that the way in which the diagnosis, treatment and response that arises around cancer or after treatment is experienced will depend to a large extent on their history, the dynamics of the couple and, of course, how they now live the new stage of the life cycle they are going through.
- COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PARTNER . It helps a lot to talk about the fears that arise, such as the fear of death or how that disease is changing your life plan. It is necessary for both of them to express what they want and act according to those needs.
- HIGHLIGHTS THE ROLE OF THE HUSBAND IN THIS ENTIRE PROCESS : although there are men who walk away from this diagnosis, most of the time we see generous men, loving their wives, concerned about doing the best for them, pampering them, loving them and containing them by putting the playful and practical aspect, as long as the woman allows it and does not tend once again to postpone.
- IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE WOMEN LET OURSELVES BE LOVED : do not separate your partner from the healing process, do not minimize it, do not ignore it, because he is also suffering in his own way.
- CANCER IS NOT THE GUILTY OF EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN THE RELATIONSHIP : you have to be honest about the type of relationship you had at the time of diagnosis, your problems and strengths. It will not be the same if they come from a moment of stability, if they have been able to cope with previous conflicts, or if, on the contrary, they are going through a difficult moment or are distanced. All of this is key for the next few days. Illness can be an opportunity to unite or it can be the trigger for separation.
- BECOME THE VOICE OF HER CONSCIENCE : encourage her to comply with the treatment in a timely manner. That is key to surviving the disease. You can become the strength that your wife needs to live through the process and try to overcome the disease.
- Tirelessly repeat to her that YOU WILL ALWAYS BE ACCOMPANYING HER! regardless of what happens.
- Remind him all the time that HER CONDITION AS A WOMAN IS ABOVE HER PHYSICAL CONDITION! It doesn't matter if you lose hair or your body changes during the process. The important thing is invisible to the eyes.
- IT'S TIME TO TAKE CHARGE OF THE HOME! During cancer treatment begins one of the most difficult moments for the whole family. The role of the husband can be made more noticeable. Surely you will have more head and willingness to make decisions and take over the reins of the house, to face this in the best possible way.
- LOOK FOR SPACES THAT FAVOR COMMUNICATION AS A PARTNER! accompany her to the treatments, go out for lunch after the medical appointment or in the afternoon to have a drink and have a moment alone, where everyone can express what they feel, their fears and apprehensions.
- NEVER GIVE UP THE HUMOR! Men have a great ability to make people laugh and their creativity can calm even the most traumatic moments.
- ADDRESS ILLNESS AS A FAMILY! There is no need to be afraid of the word cancer. You have to talk to children and face things by name. They should have information about the process your mother is going through and the next steps that will come in her treatment to manage her expectations and answer her questions. In general, the smaller they are, the greater doses of fear and anguish are produced. It is key that you consult with expert psychologists in oncology to advise you along the way. At Zenzsualwe offer SexCoaching as a good option for you to talk about the subject and listen to an expert opinion.
- DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR HEALTH AND BALANCE . Although it is good to dedicate yourself to the woman with cancer, experts in cancer psychology recommend couples that they must also take care of their health so that they can take good care of their partner's. For example, do not leave sports and spaces of tranquility and reflection.
- NEVER FORGET THAT YOU ARE STILL A COUPLE . The best thing is to listen to each other and make decisions together. He insists that the key is "to be the great support and not let her forget that whatever happens, she will always be there for her ."
- The rest is to provide YOUR UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT so that person stays strong.
No one said it's easy, but it's always possible!
Both of you can make this experience a stage of learning and strengthening the love you have for each other. At Zenzsual you have a team of SexCoaching experts willing to listen to you and help you solve the dilemmas that come with the disease, because we work every day to ensure female well-being and health.