Specifically, she presents a six-step process to help women problem solve with their husbands. It's a model she developed and has used successfully with her therapy clients. It helps them prioritize their "issues" — in other words, figure out which topics are best left unsaid or shared only with a close friend, and which ones need to be worked out one-on-one with the husband. It gives them a toolkit of communication tips and techniques to make "the talk" easier. And it enables them to learn a method for coming to "Understandings" with their husbands on everything from in-law interference to cleaning his ostomy bag.
There's a whole section of the book devoted to the big C — in this case not cancer, but codependency. Dr. Denholm helps wives take an honest look at whether their actions are keeping the husband weak or are in fact appropriate to his real needs and abilities. And she shows how she and others have navigated around the most common obstacles, including driving, eating, sex, hygiene, and financial and legal matters. Readers also learn how to bring more balance, fun, and free time into their life as caregiving wife.
Although the intended audience for this book is wives, Denholm's ultimate aim is to help husbands and wives work through the hardships of long-term illness so they can regain their love, respect, and compassion for each other. Yes, caregiving can destroy lives and marriages, but it can also be a cathartic driver of change and growth. That's her big message.
Dr. Denholm believes two partners can and should both take responsibility for keeping the marriage healthy, even if the husband may be dying. Her approach teaches women "compassionate empowerment." She says it is possible to have a healthy marriage with a husband who is gravely ill. When the caregiving wife is ready to be honest with herself and her husband, Dr. Denholm's book will give her the tools, tips, and structure to do it.