My husband and I don't actually have a lot in common, but the things we do are pretty big. For instance, my mother-in-law also has stage IV cancer. She was given a year to live a few years back. So he's has been dealing with this for a while. And I haven't understood him at all. I tried to restrain myself from nagging. (Don't you want to go spend time with your mom? Maybe you should send flowers? Do you want to send a card?) Because my husband's response has been that since she's not feeling well, she'd like a little peace and quiet, and he's going to give it to her.
My mom's been in the hospital all week, and I've gone as often as I could to be with her, to just sit there and watch her breathe, to get her a cup of peppermint tea, to do nothing at all. I've been keeping my mom's friends posted on her progress. And he doesn't get it. He thinks I'm being borderline cruel. Discussing her stuff. Staring at her while she's less than composed.
I'm sure there are times my MIL wishes he would step up the sympathy and attention and mine wishes I'd back off a bit. For the most part though, my mother-in-law appreciates his brand of support and my mom appreciates mine.
Makes me wonder: nature or nurture? I'd totally say it's a family culture thing, but my kids have been thoroughly trained in over-the-top sympathy responses and still I've got two who are give-em-their-space types. Maybe it's a gender thing. Maybe it doesn't matter. Too tired to tease out the tangles in this one.