AF Association

Blaming a Difficult Spouse for A-Fib

Hi All, I am new to the forum having just been diagnosed this week, and been turning the whole situation over in my head this last few days, while also getting used to be being on Metoprolol.

The thing is this:

I am English but have lived in the USA for about 25 years. I've been married to a very difficult and somewhat naively manipulative American woman for 23 years (married at the end of '94), and the marriage has been up and down with a lot of DOWN. I've suffered terrible anger and stress issues throughout this entire time and have been saying for years that I will get sick if I continue to let her get to me. We also in the past 9 years have had three children, who I love to bits.

This past week, since being diagnosed, I have slowly come to the conclusion that my A-fib has been caused by these decades of stress and anger and I am seriously considering leaving her. I've threatened it many times but she's made it difficult to leave and generally come across as unstable, etc., and I've foolishly stayed with her. It's my fault for not leaving a long time ago, but this time it's serious.

Does anyone have advice, or examples or ANYTHING to offer me, as I wrestle with this awful situation?

I feel a LOT better now I'm on the Metoprolol, by the way, but my continued anger towards her is triggering small episodes, which is why I'm thinking I need to leave if I have a chance at surviving this condition for any length of time.

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Maybe you can take some 'time out'....literally right away for a few weeks....visiting the uk to see relatives, otraway in connection with your work.I have been through something similar which I am not prepared to discuss, and anyway this is not the place,At least away you might be better able to judge if the Afib. improves....after that it is up to you.

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Thanks, and sorry if this isn't the place. Will think about it, but can't go anywhere as I have to work to support my kids.

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It’s a place to talk about your health and well-being and undoubtedly stress and excess emotion will play a part in developing ill health. Is it THE cause in you case - couldn’t possibly comment.

In my mind (having been through similar marital strife and ill health) my mantra is - It’s not what happens to you but how you cope with what happens’.

If you can’t physically absent yourself I would look at Mindfulness CBT practice which helps you to not react.

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Thanks, CDreamer. I have been very good this past few months, and intend to keep moving on up, as they say.

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As ginger cats suggests some of us have been there and illness of some sort is often the result. I only lasted eight years in my situation before fate took a hand and ended it for me. It probably took me four year to recover but that was nearly forty good years ago.

,

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I would welcome more of your opinions, Bob.

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I bet you would!!

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Mmmmm I wonder...three kids, difficult spouse - think I might have heard this before.

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What do you mean, it's a common situation or something else? If this isn't the place, then fair enough.

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This IS the place. We are whole people not just our a-fib. When one system gets out of whack eventually all our other systems can be affected- especially emotional well-being. We may all have different problems but our anxiety and frustration trying to find solutions are a common denominator. (Just my opinion!).

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'this in not the place refers to me not discussing my own situation.

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Oh, right. I wasn't sure if I hadn't breached some forum etiquette or not!

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Hi gingercats. Sorry I misunderstood. Take care.

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Have you not tried marriage guidance counselling ?

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What an interesting question and one I'll bet affects us all. I have so many thoughts brought up by your post I'm not sure where to start so will just jump in. I had an instructor in nursing school years ago that said "stress can cause everything but a fever". Don't know how accurate she was but I know for me I have struggled with anxiety and stress all my life. (I'm 73). I feel badly for your situation especially because of your 3 small children so there is no black and white solution. Over the years I have read books, had therapy, taken meds as I'm sure many others reading your post have done. I finally, for me, realized one thing. We have absolutely NO control over anything in this world except our reaction and choice re how we handle whatever is causing our pain. This is not to say I've learned how to do it-far from it.I work on this all the time and it's not a smooth journey; lots of little steps forward and bigger steps backward. There is a book that helped me years ago and I try to follow the guidelines even now. And I still have the book. It's called ON DEATH AND DYING by a Swiss doctor Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I first read this book years ago after going through cancer tx and originally I remember the book was primarily recommended to help patients get through their emotional journey of having a serious illness. Fast summation: Dr Ross talked about there being 5 phases to get through emotionally: denial, depression, anger, bargaining, and acceptance. At first I thought acceptance meant accepting death as I didn't know my medical outcome at the time. But after I recovered and over the years I've seen that these phases-which are explained so well in her book-apply not only to medical illnesses but, for me, to pretty much anything in my life that causes me grief/anxiety/frustration/irritation and especially anger. The goal for whatever is going on in my life is acceptance and, believe me, getting there everytime I face a negative situation, is hard. I always have to travel through the 5 stages to get relief.I don't know if I've helped or caused more confusion (hopefully helped). It might be worth checking this book out and possibly researching Dr Ross's other writings. This subject comprised much of her life's work-getting to acceptance. BTW by acceptance I don't think we are meant to just passively accept whatever comes our way but, for me, it means learning to reach an acceptance where I no longer have those little conversations in my head about how I can get even, or make a sharp comment or make my own health worse by ruminating. I can't tell you what solutions will work for you but I'm confident you will discover these for yourself. You asked the question which, to me, means your mind is already looking for solutions. They will come. Take care.

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Thanks Irina, I will look into that. I have always sought answers in spiritual and other writings, and recently returned to "The Iron Flute", a Zen collection of 100 koans that really helped me with this when I was in my 30s (I'm 52 now).

You hit the nail on the head about ruminating, etc., as this is and always has been a terrible tendency of mine. I can work myself up into a frenzy by circling over this stuff like a demented hawk!

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Hi afafaf. I can create a mountain out of a molehill in 60 seconds flat!!!!!

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me too re spiritual stuff. One ofmy all time favorite authors was Dr. Wayne Dyer.

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I feel stress is a significant factor in this condition. I am married to basically a good man but I am pretty sure his occasional "tantrums" and "outbursts" have exacerbated my AF and bought on episodes ........I won't say anymore than that.

I also recognise what Irina 75 is saying about phases

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Agreed. The funny thing is this past several month I really became a changed person in terms of not responding to her little barbs. She also changed in response to my change, which surprised me. And now this diagnosis on Monday and all the decades of crap has suddenly come back, mainly because I was ruminating the other night, and it triggered a slight episode, despite the beta blocks, so I went off the deep end thinking "this person is gonna kill me if I stick around and I'll never see the kids grow up!"

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If you have only just been diagnosed, it may take time for you to gain the confidence to believe that AF may not significantly shorten your life. Quite the reverse.

Actively searching for the funny side or something of merit paths the way to diminishing the impact. One can sometimes turn the stresses of life round by not complaining. Ignore your suspicion that AF is a vile condition and repeat after me: AF can goad me into living in healthier ways and I can be the better for having it and benefits can be reaped.

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I agree but I was already living healthily, working out regularly, eating healthy, etc. Which makes it all the more annoying that it's happened. I want to have an ablation. Can't stand the thought of being 52 and destined to taking the pills from here on out!

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Well, yes, me too. At 40 (with a baby and a 2 year old) I felt I needed to look after myself. I am very peeved at the way my heart has repaid me for years of prudence.

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Just a thought! Do you think some of your anger/frustration with afib might be spilling over into other parts of your life? It does with me. Very often some small thing ticks me off and I have to sit back and try and figure what's really irritating me. Just a thought.

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I don't remember AF being worse when I felt I was simmering inwardly and feeling picked on. I mentioned that unhappy time - it was four years ago - to my husband this week and he said he remembered me being as overtly incandescent as a firework display and is glad to have me back.

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I have three kids which I look after at weekends as my wife works (she's just come off every other weekend and the relief is massive on those weekends) and she's coming off weekends entirely in a few months. I can't wait.

So to answer your question, yes, I have to really work not to blow up at the kids, as when you're in an episode (and mine were typically hours long and always appeared at weekends) you're already at the end of your rope before anyone even starts.....

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I think you're on the right track. Afib and its uncertainties esp in the beginning makes everything harder.

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i agree with rellim. Once you get stabilized on the meds/treatment that works best for you, you might find yourself looking at afib as just another chronic condition. That's my goal. Not ready to kick the bucket yet; it would leave too many relatives in peace LOL. A sense of humor helpsme; I have 2 implanted devices-a pacemaker and a Watchman. They both have names:the pacer is Seymour and I just named my new Watchman Sydney.

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Some of the replies here are very insightful and I would agree that anger and stress have a lot to do with your AF diagnosis.

Since your 3 children are under 9 I guess their well-being and happiness ought to be your priority and only you can know if leaving the family home will put that in jeopardy.

Might it be worth you and your wife seeking relationship counselling, or for you to seek anger management guidance?

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Believe me, my kids are number one, but if there are bad vibes in the home that's probably worse than anything. My wife grew up in a house with a very poor relationship between her mum and dad (her mother is a "problem person") so she is probably just constantly returning to that baseline state of conflict and uncertainty. I don't want that for my kids.

I'm not a big fan of counselling. I've always believed the truth is right here, in our faces. It's just a matter of having the courage to do what the universe is telling us we should do.

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Clearly a very difficult situation - for everyone in your family. If you're not keen on counselling (for yourself) might it be helpful to your wife?

Mindfulness sounds as if it could help you and that might have greater appeal.

I notice you said in another reply that you had stopped rising to your wife's "little barbs" and that she changed in response to that. Strikes me that you have hit on a way forward yourself there.

Everyone here knows what a shock it is at first when newly diagnosed, but with time and a good treatment plan - together with more knowledge about the condition (read up all the patient info. on the AFA website) you realise it's not (of itself) going to kill you.

If I were in your situation I don't think I'd be making any decisions about my family circumstances in a hurry, not whilst so unsettled by the diagnosis.

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Hi again - Ok - I now have my Relationship Counsellor hat on - from which I retired some 5 years ago.

No 1 - relationship Counselling works with the dynamics of the relationship in order for you to better understand your behaviours, motivations and enables your to express your emotions in order to facilitate change. That change may be that you agree to split - but leave you in a better position to enable you co-parent children in a supportive way - you might agree not to put each other down, stick to arrangements to create stability for the children, etc - it becomes a working relationship. You behave as if it was a work situation.

No 2 - there are always 2 sides of the story - you may think you really know your partner but in my experience - both personal and professional - we very, very, rarely do have any idea of what they are going through - what are her fears, emotions and how is she handling them? etc.

No3 - chronic illness puts a huge strain on any relationship. My now husband and I went through a very bad time last spring after cancer, 2 Heart conditions and 2 autoimmune disease - chronic illness takes a huge toll on relationships, even the best and so we took a course of 6 session - yes - limit them - you get more done when you have a deadline.

No 4 - that in mind - don’t see any counsellor who has their own agenda ie - keeping the marriage going - which often happens with religious based Counselling.

I hope that has given you a brief overview of how RC can help - relationships need support just as individuals do and if you have no community around you which supports the relationship it can feel like a nightmare.

Mindfulness - Mindfulness- Mindfulness - a Zen practice - can be through spiritual practice or not.

Very best wishe -CD,

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Cdreamer and I are on the same page with this. And especially be aware of any counsellor's personal agenda. A good counsellor will not make decisions for you but will help you find the tools you need to make you own decisions. Be on the lookout re too much advice. I read this definition in a book some years back called YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE. The authors gave a definition of 'true charity'. This definition has served me in other situations since then. They said:"True charity is giving a person what THEY NEED, NOT what YOU think they should have." For me this helps me evaluate therapists and other caregivers for myself. BTW I have a little 'twist' on the 2 sides to every story. (Semi-humorously) I like to say there are 3 sides: yours, mine, and somewhere in the middle! Take care irina1975

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Thanks Irina, again, good good advice. Will look up Your Money or Your Life, too.

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Thank you, yes, I agree agendas are wrong. All your points are very good. Much food for thought. Part of the problem is my wife does not open up and bare her soul much, to say the very least, while I am the complete opposite.

But I will ponder this some more.

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And a skilled counsellor will help her to do that without prejudice. Only go with someone who ‘feels’ right. Ask about their training, about themselves, about how they work.

I practiced as a Integrative Humanistic Practistioner which means the approach I used drew from lots of different trainings and belief systems and used a humanistic approach meaning that I worked with the people - not the theories. Listening, observing and making observations about the interaction which I hope d people found helpful - many told me they were.

I did some training with the Resnicks’ - based in LA so if you are anywhere in that area or nearby I would endorse anyone with their training as I really liked their model - and they don’t mess around - direct and to the point.

Best wishes CD.

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Yes the truth IS right here in our faces but we still sometimes need help to find it and in my experience it is helpful to seek advice away from family as any emotional over-reaction is avoided in this way.

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Hi Happyhoppy. Families often think they must help us find a solution when what would help us most is just listening so we can hear ourselves think. Then we are able to hear our own internal answers. This 'listening and helpingus find our own answers' is often what an impartial person can give us.

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I do hope I'm wrong!!!

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Me also and about olnick and Oyster.

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??? Why this thread? Did I miss something?

Do you think another incarnation???

Well if they are and are being well behaved - no concerns.

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Well behaved? I sensed that the energy of the post is not right.

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I am assuming you mean the energy of the so called Troll? Correct, the energy is wildly out. And for reasons that have been explained, owned and apologized for publicly.

I am differentiating between someone who has malevolent intentent - out of awareness = Troll for me - and someone who has acknowledged issues and seeks treatment and maybe needs just as much support as anyone else here - but not always publicly on this particular forum.

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Nope, never heard of them. I will try to behave though.

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Stress is certainly a cause of A/F as I well know and you might benefit from counselling/stress management or even anger management and this is turn may help you not only with your A/F but also in managing your domestic life, its worth a go. This article too may help you guysandstthomas.nhs.uk/our-... to better understand the condition we all suffer from on this forum. You need to sort out your emotions and your life to be able to cope with the situation you find yourself and sit your wife down and calmly discuss this to help her understand what you are going through and how you are feeling. Good luck

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Thanks, I'll check that out. I am already feeling a lot calmer than I was the other day (yesterday?). I just worked out and feel fantastic. I'm overjoyed to be free of the symptoms that's for sure, but the other night bad memories had me frothing a bit and I guess I reacted the wrong way.

Thank you all for your responses. It's been a surreal week, getting my head around it, going on the tablets, etc. You guys are a great help, and I appreciate it. I also vented to someone at work and had to apologise to her as I was in a bit of a state, but it was all just fear of being permanently stressed/angered by memories, despite the fact the last few months I've been a lot better.

Thank you all. I like this forum and have a feeling I'll be on it a fair bit. And I am NOT that other person or persons, just for the record.

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Looks as if I was wrong, best wishes and hope you are able to maintain your positive outlook.....John

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Thanks. As you can imagine I am still in the "OMG it's gonna clot and I'm gonna diiieeeeee!!!!" phase right now, on and off, but had a breakthrough this afternoon when I realised it wasn't my FAULT, it's just something that happened.

Have also had a nice text conversation with the wife (she works weekends), so all is good there, too.

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I left my marriage to an abusive controlling man because his anger was causing me terrible attacks of ectopics and svt, I wasn,t aware what these attacks were then but knew he was causing them, I live happily alone with peace but still get the attacks but not as bad as when I lived with him. You have to do what is best for your health, you can still see your children, they are aware of what is going on because my 3 children who are now adults tell me so.

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Well done you! Very difficult thing to do safely.

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I was in a bad marriage for 45 yrs and when I left I finally met my soulmate and the love of my life and during my very stressful marriage I had no afib but my second husband developed cancer and I nursed him till he died and it was after that I started with my afib problem as I was so unhappy without him , it may not be your marriage that is causing it as it wasn’t my worst time in my life that started it and perhaps there is something you could do about saving your unhappy life with your wife if not you maybe better walking away as I did you can still work to keep your children many men do and that said if I’d have known how happy I could have been if I’d have left my 1st marriage I would have left years before

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I don't think any of us should tolerate abuse in any form. And when we say we are doing it for others it does them no favors in the long run. There are many kinds of abuse,some more obvious than others. I have run abuse groups as part of my nursing career and I believe emotional abuse is one of the most insidious and difficult ones to bear. Probably because there are so many differences of opinion on what it is. We can't truly take care of anyone else unless we first take care of ourselves. What do the airlines say? "First put your own oxygen mask on before you help your children."

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I believe AF is rarely just one factor, the exception being perhaps the super fit endurance athlete; do you have other lifestyle/diet/supplement issues to address?

Long term relationships do bring tension as well as fulfilment; my spouse lacks confidence (e.g. concern about being alone) and therefore her concerns when I got AF did not help with moods and silences, in the end I had an emotional meltdown/showdown with her, which helped.

Also, I happen to have Christian beliefs and AF/spouse difficulties changed me from a dutiful church goer into a much higher percentage believer - I mention this as it is helping greatly as you get older with loved ones and with less social contact generally. I assume many have difficulty with their beliefs, if any, and I guess I have been lucky.

Hope the future is brighter with or without Trump!

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Sorry folks, the "T" word just makes me want to jump in. We will all be fine whatever he does. Until he becomes the mind control expert of the universe I am still a free agent and the onlyone in control of my life! "Nough said." Thanks for listening!

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Sorry about the diagnosis. Realize now is not the time to make any rash decisions- and breaking up your family is rash. I really think you owe it to yourself and the kids to try counseling- with your wife. The fact that she positively responded to you changing your responses bodes well for improvement. I see this has been years in the making and know how hard relationships are- but you might have one that you truly can salvage. If your wife has any insight at all and is willing to work on it that’s huge. Cbl is wonderful and I totally agree- our responses to stress are the key to positive change. You will be tied to her for the rest of your life due to the kids regardless of your decision- so why not give it an honest go at repair? Just my two cents and best wishes during this tough time.

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Hello Dinodog, did your ablation go ahead in the end??

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I have been married for 50 years and it has been hard. We are very different people and we have had to work hard at the marriage to stay together. We have both had AF for 3 years. We are learning to let stuff pass and choose our arguments carefully as neither want to cause an attack. We have developed more interests apart which gives us both a break. If your wife has no interest in trying to make a more easy going life then maybe you have no future together. It takes two.

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It can indeed be wise to think, ask oneself 'Is what I am about to say going to improve the situation for the person on the receiving end' and keep quiet if the answer is no.

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My husband sometimes reminds me of the test 'Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?' which one should use before speaking. Of course a judgemental person is not going to be helped by that!

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Good test! And equally applicable to the written word too. I think I said not so long ago I thought we might consider a little more how comments here will appear to those who read them.

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That's pretty much how I changed. Kind of. Just told myself whenever she says anything, ignore it. Almost the same thing.

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Hi flapjack it did and thanks for asking! Went well and just a bit tired is all- so glad I did it.

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great news!!

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I don’t think that you really and truly want to leave your wife! I am an American woman, married to a European gentleman. I was recently diagnosed with PAF ... l have had two episodes in approximately 8 months. Our differences are always due to cultural issues. I think very much like a conservative American. He thinks like a liberal European. My advise to you is to be very sweet and loving toward her. Ignore and do not respond to anything negative that might occur. Simply say nothing. Zero. This will slowly alter the dynamic of your partnership! Be romantic! Invite her out! Call her darling. Compliment her! American women loooove being babied. Your written words tell me that you belong where you are. Soften your stance on everything ... and you will prevail. Listen to your inner voice telling you that afib isn’t a fatal disease!

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Janith

Hmm... my first wave feminist wife would not be impressed. Her body dysmorphophobia makes her inclined to agree with my attempts to woo her with comments about her morbid obesity when the reality is that she is seductively rubenesque. Flowers she regards as a waste of money.

Horses for courses I suppose...

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She’s a lucky lady to have you!!

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Are you a frustrated writer, oyster? That was class.

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TBH these days I'm more like a conservative American and she's still pretty liberal. She also thinks flowers are a waste of money, as oyster said.

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It’s too bad that she hasn’t learned to be a classic lady. When my husband brings me flowers my eyes tear and my heart sings. Since she doesn’t appreciate flowers give her a book of poetry. Ask her to read it for you ... My gut tells me that departing from your wife and your children might be very traumatic for you. Tread gently.

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A-Fib or not, it’s time to split. You are obviously not in love with her. Get out.

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afafaf

My instinct is that if you leave your family, you risk losing access to your children.

Take a blood thinner (if recommended) with your beta blocker and for the moment forget about your AF.

Concentrate on saving your marriage. Nothing and nobody matters more than your children's happiness , not you, not your wife. Decisions you both make now will reverberate down the years for your children.

Unless there is abuse, children need to come home to mum and dad who must put their own needs to one side and

prioritise their children's needs.

My parents did not get on, but stayed together for their three kids. My wife and I fell out of love long ago but have done a a reasonable job of raising our four young boys while finding a way to rub along.

Accept your lot, recognise the privilege of fatherhood and look for ways to fall in love with your wife again.

On the scale of things your AF is a pretty trivial matter in comparison to the threat to the integrity of your family, which is a precious gift and will likely be your greatest accomplishment.

I have been where you are now.

Time to man up.

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I agree. It's been a hard week just wrapping my head around it, but I've begun seeing it as an electrical fault rather than a blamable behavioural one. My oldest child already worries about us getting divorced, which destroys me, and she's made a connection between how stressed I am and the likelihood of that happening.

Believe me, I've manned up for a long time, but this past week knocked me for a loop. Been eating healthily, killing myself on an elliptical machine, or with weights, etc., only to be told, "Oh, well, your heart's ****ed anyway, tough!"

I did not respond well to that.

Thanks for your words.

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I have the most wonderful loving wife who is incredibly supportive And whom I love dearly but that didn’t stop me getting AF.

By all means get a divorce if you want though don’t expect the AF to stop.

It’s a progressive ailment.

.

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When you say progressive, d'you mean it gets worse over time, even with medication? Does anyone here know the rough % of AF sufferers being treated who do end up dying because of it?

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afafaf

Conventional wisdom is that when AF is properly managed "the rough % of AF s******** being treated who do end up dying because of it" is

0% as in zero.

The mortality rate of cofactors which are not addressed is higher. It may be that AF is simply a marker for pathology as yet unidentified. Rather like cholesterol.

Will the answer to your question change anything for you? I suspect the statistics you search for are not available, because large numbers of people are unaware they have AF. A medical statistician such as fnurd on this site will know more.

My instinct is that you are more likely to die of a broken heart than a relatively benign cardiac dysrhythmia, if you decide to leave your family.

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Oyster, I'm referring to these "cofactors", not afib itself, as I've read numerous times it doesn't kill you on its own. I agree (mostly) with the broken heart comment. Especially today, as I a having the worst two days so far on the beta blocker. Feels like I haven't taken anything and am back in the old afib I've been having for the best part of 2 years. My wife is working this weekend so I have the three kids, and stress is playing havoc. It's not their fault, obviously, it's more the principle of being here alone that's doing it. But mustn't grumble.

I keep getting sharp pains in the left side of my head near my ear.

Also shooting pain from left side of heart down to left bollock.

Also across left arm on the inside of my elbow.

have also had pulsing pain in right side of chest, and left side of chest.

Does anyone know what this is, and should I go and see someone? Kind of difficult with three little kids and torrential rain out.

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afafaf

Diagnosis of symptoms like these can only be made after a full physical evaluation. You need to attend the ER.

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Thanks. I feel a lot better today. Stress is over. My wife is coming off weekends in May, so only a few to go. It's been a long (almost) 9 years let me tell you.

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