Nancy is 73 years old, married to a man 7 years younger than her. At the time, their marriage was a bit of a scandal, but she never thought twice about the age difference.
Now that Nancy is facing growing older, she feels that her husband has not been there for her. Because of arthritis in her hands, Nancy is no longer able to work in the garden as much as she used to or drive around. Rather than helping her, she feels that her husband, who is still in excellent health, has become annoyed by her. She feels afraid of asking him to help her more around the house. Despite her age, Nancy still wants her husband to see her as sexy and independent and she doesn’t feel that asking for help would be beneficial in this realm.
Today, Nancy was unable to open a jar, but was too embarrassed to ask her husband for help. Because she no longer feels comfortable driving and most of her friends are likewise aging, she doesn’t socialize as much as she used to. Nancy realized today that she is becoming depressed, but hasn’t been able to tell her husband, because she doesn’t want to be seen as weak or a burden.
As a child, Nancy’s father never helped around the house saying that it was “women’s work.” Even if her mother was ill, she continued to care for the house and children. Nancy never saw her father care for her mother’s emotional needs, so she never really expected that care from other men in her life.
On the other hand, Nancy’s husband, Rod, was always very attentive to her emotional needs. When she was pregnant, Rod never let her lift a finger around the house. When they moved to Georgia to retire, Rod even built a garden for Nancy to tend.
All this makes Rod’s current neglect of her needs and feelings all the worse. Nancy worries that age has finally caught up to them and Rod now sees her as a burden. Rather than speaking directly to Rod, Nancy has tortured herself with ideas of what Rod might be thinking or doing. She has even begun to worry that he is having an affair with a younger woman.
Have you ever, like Nancy, been too afraid to speak honestly with the people in your life? Have you ever neglected your own needs because you were afraid to ask for help? When have you allowed your fears to get the best of you?