4/3/2023 | By Amy Dickinson

A woman is undergoing chemotherapy, but her partner won’t cancel a planned trip with his grandkids. Should she expect him to be a supportive partner? See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson advises in this installment of “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy: 

My partner (we live together) owns a vacation home in the Southwest. Months ago, he made plans to take three of his teenage grandchildren there over spring break.

After that plan was hatched, I was diagnosed with cancer and am undergoing chemotherapy.

I had hoped that he would cancel his plans so he could be at our home to help me out, but he went ahead and make airline reservations, after he knew the dates of his vacation would coincide with my treatment.

I am feeling hurt, rejected and unimportant to him, in addition to feeling the ill effects of my treatment.

I could have used a supportive partner to help with meals, driving to the clinic, and overall companionship. My daughter, who has a full-time job, stepped in.

Amy, he rarely sees these grandchildren, who live within 15 minutes of us.

Why couldn’t he have just scheduled a few spring break outings at home instead of traveling during this crucial time?

– Sad and Suffering

Dear Sad: 

My mother once said to me, “Remember: People do what they want to do.” When pondering disappointing choices people make that let you down, I think it helps to accept this simple truism.

Supportive partner. Daughter hugging  ill mother.

On the face of it, your partner doesn’t seem to have placed a high priority on being your stalwart helpmate. For many people, showing up during an emergency illness is a high calling. Doing so can elevate you to realize your own better nature.

Not so much for your guy, evidently.

One of the joys of being a good grandparent is to spend “quality time” with your grandchildren, indulging them with special experiences.

More important, however, are the lasting lessons grandparents can impart to their grands – about stepping up, stepping in, and demonstrating a commitment, like being a supportive partner, to those who need you.

Factors that you don’t mention could be related to how and why you two chose each other in the first place – such as whether he went through a divorce that has made him feel insecure and guilty toward his children and grandchildren.

Regardless, it looks like you are not spending your life with an “in sickness and in health” person.

I hope you’ve chosen to talk to him about this, honestly expressing how this episode has made you feel.

Now that you know what he’s like when the chips are down, you can move forward, understanding that when it comes to some of your greater needs, you should not necessarily count on him.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from a not-so-supportive partner to bossy friends and stubborn husbands. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

Amy Dickinson