The Turmoil of Men, Women, Misery, Illness, Martyrs and Marriage

mancodeBy the end of last week, I was wondering why my husband had married me. Only two days earlier, I’d been wondering why I’d married him.

According to friends, that’s not unusual in a long-term relationship, but I’m not sure my friends truly understand the ugly monster that threatens to wreak havoc on my marriage.

Some call it being sick while others call it having an illness. Personally, I prefer when people say they are feeling “a bit under the weather.” That means they may not be operating at full potential, but at least they are still functioning.

And therein lies the problem.

Whether because of how I was raised or because of my God-given Type A  personality, I have an innate belief that when people don’t feel well, they should still try to make some contribution to society.

My husband, on the other hand, believes that the first sniffle or wave of nausea indicates he should lie in bed all day moaning.

O.K., maybe he’s not that quite that bad… anymore.  He has, after all, lived with me long enough to know that I’m not the type to provide much comfort when he’s sick. Instead, I am much more likely to tell him to, “suck it up.” At times, I’ve even  gone so far as to accuse him of using illness as an excuse to avoid the “honey do” list or to get attention.

I know, that makes me a very bad wife and explains why I’ve questioned that fact he married me. But please note that I’m not a completely bad person.

I DO  have empathy for people who are sick, and I DO believe people need to take care of themselves so they recovery quickly and don’t get worse. And I certainly don’t want people coming to work sick. The problem is, I don’t allow myself to take it easy when I’m sick, and therefore set the same expectations for my husband.

Maybe it’s just a man/woman thing.  A few years ago, my husband sent me a link to a scene from a British sitcom in which a man believes he’s on his death bed because he has a “man cold.” 

I could completely relate, and I think my husband did too.

Last week, he came down with the stomach bug, and I came down with a strong case of irritation. Not only did I have to take on all his household obligations, but he didn’t even offer to try to help. That would have made me feel much better, especially since I always play the martyr when I’m sick. There are many times when I’ve been running a fever or had the stomach virus and insisted that I still had to walk the dog or the world will come to an end.

In hindsight, I was more than just irritated last week, I was also fearful. I didn’t want anyone else in the house to get sick.  And while my irritation wasn’t justified, my fear was.

Years ago, when the children were still quite small, the stomach bug caught us all at the same time. Having to take care of small children with the stomach virus is messy, esp when you are suffering the same ailment. At one point, I broke my own rule of silent suffering and proclaimed, “could this possible get any worse?”

It could. As if on cue, one of our two dogs walked into the room and threw up on the carpet. And yes, I was the one who had to clean up that mess too.

So even though my husband thought I was a bit insane last week when I following him around with Lysol and insisting he thoroughly sterilize the bathroom each time he used he, I think he understood just a little.

On the positive side, no one else in the house got sick. At least, not yet.

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About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter in high school, a son starting his latest adventures at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on January 25, 2013, in Family, My life, perspective and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. What a hoot!!! Glad everyone made it through Giles illness – keep the lysol handy!!!

  2. They don’t get it. We feel like Sh** regularly for decades. They are untrained in the Menstrual Arts. Advil, wine, a brisk walk, get back in the game!

    • My daughter points out to me on a regular basis that “boys feel pain more than girls do.. It’s a proven fact.” I don’t know where se picked up that fact, but I think it’s more likely we just tolerate pain better… because we have to.

  3. Guess I got a good one because he’s very sympathetic and helpful when I’m sick and very grateful for anything I do when he’s sick. So, I don’t catch irritation. Now ask me about other aspects of married life like why can’t he find something that’s right in front of him?

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