Is My Wife a Hypochondriac?
anonymous Asks ...
Everyday there is something wrong with my wife. There is always some sickness of injury that needs special attention. I am not saying she is totally faking it but it is not really believable how often she gets sick or how she can oscillate from perfect health when she is unobserved to serious illness when she notices you are watching her or ask how she is doing.
I don’t know how to deal with this. She is a great woman but this drives me crazy. If I ever try to call her on her behavior she goes into meltdown mode. She really loses it, it’s like there is nothing worse I can say than question her sickness. But at the same time it is hard to take her health complaints seriously every day all the time. So I mostly just ignore them…and then whenever anyone else is around and they see me ignoring her health concerns I look the bad guy!
What do I do here? I think this is beyond her control and not done intentionally but it is obviously some sort of psychosomatic illness. But how can I help her to get better when she blows up whenever I even suggest that her maladies might not be real?
Stephanie Adams Says ...
You're in a really tough spot. You want to help her feel better - and you to have a break from the stress of an ill wife - but if you bring it up, you're in trouble. From what I see, there's only two options. If she really is that ill, then it means your marriage is facing a great deal of stress. If she isn't that ill physically, but psychosomatically, challenging the truth of her symptoms is only going to make the maladies worse. If she's developed psychosomatic complaints, her mind has created these symptoms for a reason. Though she is not conscious of them, for whatever reason, being ill relieves some emotional pain or allows her to avoid another painful issue. And until we know what that reason is, there's nothing we can do to stop the physical complaints. It's only when those reasons are met in a more healthy way that the physical complaints will go away.
If you haven't already, I would start by visiting a doctor to rule out a physical cause. If there is a physical problem a counselor who specializes in chronic pain might be helpful to your wife. (Check your hospital for referrals.) If there is no known physical reason, I'd really recommend you see a marriage counselor, or if your wife is willing, that she see an individual counselor that specializes in somatic concerns.