husband won't take his meds

By fetagal Latest Reply 2011-07-16 00:09:58 -0500
Started 2011-07-07 19:54:29 -0500

My husband has HBP, diabetes and other problems, but he won't take his medicine as prescribed. He claims he forgets but I think its for sympathy from other people. I have talked to him about it til I'm exhausted. He refuses to take it the way he is supposed to. When I threaten to leave then he will straighten up for about a month. What do I do?

13 replies

fetagal 2011-07-15 23:57:39 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary, you took the words right out of my mouth. That is exactly how I feel. I went to the doctor today with my husband and told him what was going on. The doctor gave him several scenarios of what he could be looking at if he doesn't take his medicine correctly. It is now beginning to affect his liver as his enzymes are up. The doctor changed up his meds and discussed everything with us for almost an hour…he is a good doctor. But he also told me in front of my husband: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
He also told him that he could end up blind and in a wheelchair and that wasn't fair to me as his wife. So hopefully he got through to him. Guess we will see in about 3 months. Regretfully, I have decided that if this doesn't get through to him then I am going to leave and file for divorce. I just can't take watching him destroy his health. This is already bringing me down which is why I went to his doctor today. I told my husband on the way home that this wasn't what I had envisioned our life together being like. That it would be different if he was doing everything the dr. told him to do but his health still was failing. But to sit back and stick his head in the sand and hope it goes away, I told him that I can't do that and I won't do that. I can't sit and watch someone kill themselves as he is doing right now. So he has been warned. God bless everyone who replied and I will keep you updated as I see how he proceeds from here.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-07-08 13:39:17 -0500 Report


This must feel kind of like watching someone standing on the edge of a cliff and not being able to talk them into moving to safer ground.

It sounds like your husband is in denial. He doesn't want to face the reality of his diagnosis, and so he is just pretending it isn't there, as if at some point the diabetes will give up on him and move on to bother somebody else. He may be scared, even though he doesn't admit it, and not be acknowledging how scared he is. The doctor's scolding may increase his fear, but also increase the denial. It is a vicious cycle.

And then there is the "guy thing" going on here as well. He doesn't want a bunch of other people taking over his life and telling him what he has to do. He wants to feel like he is in control. Unfortunately, he is exercising his control by hurting himself.

I suspect that you have tried the "tough love" approach, told him of your concerns, maybe warned him that he is placing his future at risk by not taking care of himself.

You may also have taken the pills out of their bottles and handed them to him, if you are around him during the times when they are scheduled. Just checking.

Or maybe you have been in touch with his doctor and enlisted his/her help in driving the point home.

On the other hand...

Let him know how much you love him, how you want him to be around and to be as healthy as possible. If you have friends or other family members, or children, that you can enlist in this effort, so much the better. Help him to see compliance as an opportunity and not a punishment.

I know this has to be scary and annoying for you, but your husband may be feeling the same way. Join the resistance — let him know that you get where he is coming from, that you understand why he is feeling the way that he is. and that you want to support him in any way that you can. Patience is a virtue.

But back to that image of watching someone standing on the edge of a cliff... we can't control what other people decide to do or not to do, even when the benefit to them is obvious. He may need to come to this realization on his own, in his own time, and feel like it is his own decision. So gentle suggestions, and epxressions of concern, may be the best you can do for now.

My thoughts are with you! Keep us posted,


knit57 2011-07-08 08:00:21 -0500 Report

The first thing you have to accept is that he is an adult. You cannot do it for him. My ex-husband had type 1 diabetes, he refused to deal that is one of the reasons he is my ex. No one can make him compliantl, he has to make the decission to live. You need to find your own support to help you deal with this, I found my best support to be interent friends. You can vent to them without fear of judgement. Good luck, and stay strong.

NavyNerd 2011-07-08 00:46:28 -0500 Report

Have you told his doc? My step-dad didn't want to take his BP meds, I think because he thinks he is superman, and he acts the part- solving crises, handling everything, AWESOME guy, but not for the meds. His doc was fearless though and ripped him a new one, and THAT worked for him.

I have family who do this as well- for many reasons (they don't feel like they deserve to be around, or they justify buying their wife meds but not spending the money on themselves, etc.) I will fully admit I absentmindedly forget to take my meds sometimes, but there are a couple I can't handle not taking- my tremor meds and my pain management meds, so I got a pill minder and I dole out a week at a time and then to take what I remember I have to take them all.

Cookie Roma
Cookie Roma 2011-07-08 00:18:09 -0500 Report

I get what you mean about not taking care of himself. I've been married for 21 tears and my husband has been overweight all that time . He has gone on at least 20 diets over the years. Some have been very sensible and successful but he doesn't stay in it. Others have been just stupid and last for a few days or hours. After all these diets he still claims that he doesn't really understand good nutrition. Ive tried to tell him that just because he hasn't gotten diabetes or something else as "pleasant" doesnt mean he wont.
The truth is you can't make someone do the right thing. I suppose you have to decide if you are willing to watch him slowly kill himself.

granniesophie 2011-07-07 22:32:49 -0500 Report

Got a place to go for a few days? Go there. When he is all alone by himself and calls you for help, tell him that since he refuses to take care of himself, you can't stay with him. He's an adult and responsible for his own actions. Tell him you still love him, but you can't stay with someone who won't take responsiblity for himself. You are not his mother, you are his wife. Tell him if he wants you to come back he'll have to come up with a plan to take care of himself and stick with it. And stick to your guns. He'll come around. Shouldn't take long.
And perhaps you both should get some counseling. If he won't go, you should go anyway. You need to understand why he's so self-destructive, and how to prevent him from taking you down that path with him.
You have tried to help him because you love him, it's not love he wants, its pity and you deserve to be loved. If all he wants is sympathy that gets old fast, and you have so much more to give to hima and he needs to recognize this and fix himself.
You are a good person, please don't blame yourself for what you can't make him do.

flbusybee 2011-07-07 22:20:26 -0500 Report

Have you asked if he would like you to be responsible for reminding him to take his meds, etc.? I "control" this entirely for my hubby of 54 years as he has early stage Alzheimer's. Often he will get whim to get them where I have them set out and we have a discussion about it right then.

Harlen 2011-07-07 21:02:54 -0500 Report

You can try to tell him your going to leave if he dosent start to take care of it now !
That you do not wish to live with somone that wishes to die a slow death but before he dies he will go blined and live on a dialises machein as well as a lot of other health problems .
So it's up to him ?????
Best wishes

fetagal 2011-07-07 21:46:46 -0500 Report

I did that and he changed for a month then it went right back to the way it was before. I agree it is up to him and I need to start taking care of myself so I don't get sick. I even put his meds in one of those daily containers with the am & pm, Monday - Sunday on it. Worked for about a month.

jayabee52 2011-07-07 20:50:18 -0500 Report

Howdy Fetagal. WELCOME to DC!

There is really no way of MAKING a person take his meds outside of having him declared incompetent by a court of law and institutionalized and force-fed his meds. There is however a way you might convince him to voluntarily comply. Tell him you love him and that his not taking his meds and not taking the best care of himself as possible SCARES you because you're afraid he will get sicker and die, leaving you alone. It terrifies you and he can help you not be so scared by taking the best care of himself he possibly can. You might also initiate imtimacy between you two to demonstrate your love for him.

My first wife used that way of communicating with me, and it worked well on me, as I didn't want her to be scared.

I pray that something works for you and hubby starts taking better care of himself.


fetagal 2011-07-07 21:45:07 -0500 Report

Whats bad is I've tried both of those things…it seems he wants everyone to feel sorry for him. I am at my wits end…almost ready to call it quits as I can't live this way not knowing if I'm going to find him dead in the floor or someone calling me from the hospital. He lies to his doctor and then gets mad at me when I tell the doctor what is really going on. I almost think he doesn't care how I feel.

jayabee52 2011-07-07 22:12:08 -0500 Report

I'm sorry that he doesn't think enough of you to really care how you feel. A real man, I believe will try to slay a dragon while in his BVDs (hyperbole, of course) rather than let you be frightened like that.

EDIT: You mean you've tried to have him involuntarily committed?

fetagal 2011-07-16 00:09:58 -0500 Report

No, what I meant was if he had a stroke while at work or driving and then someone from the hospital is calling me. That is what frightens me the most, that he will have a stroke while driving and not only hurt or kill himself but someone elses family member too, an innocent bystander. He is putting other people lives in jeparody also. But he doesn't think of it that way. He thinks I'm just nagging at him and so he is going to do the complete opposite of what I say…like a rebellious kid.