It’s one of the affirmations I read to myself as a way to help me remember and appreciate the value of being married and having a life partner. “I love what I have learned through marriage…I love what I have learned through marriage…” you get the idea. Sometimes I believe the words more than others, last week, I was having a difficult time buying any of it. It felt more like “I’m sick and tired of what I keep having to learn through marriage!!! Arggggg” How many times do we need to do this dance! I didn’t give up on my affirmation and am I’m committed to it, but sometimes those lessons are fucking hard!
From Thanksgiving to January 11th, we had a lot going on, including the holidays, which are always busy. We moved my husband back in to our home after nine months of being separated, I made three trips to California, the holiday season came and went and my 2nd daughter got married. Following all this activity and more sleepless nights than I care to admit, my body decided it had had enough. It needed a break, so it kind of shut itself down for several days. I could have simply taken some vacation time and had a nice relaxing time off, but I chose to work…work…work…go…go…go… until my body gave me some unscheduled time off. Time in bed, feeling like crap! I ended up with bronchitis and out of commission for 12 days.
When I become sick, I rarely respect myself enough to listen in to what my body is asking of me, I always try to power through, I ignore the symptoms, finally resting when I just can’t do anymore. Knowing that bronchitis is always a factor for me, this time I did my best to take the time for rest and healing. My husband never get the memo! He was all too happy to ask about the status of his laundry, breakfast, lunch, dinner, kids and the dogs. Completely oblivious to how sick I was and my plan for rest. It infuriated me! How could he not see how bad I was feeling?!?!?! It infuriated me to a point of acting a like a 15 year old! Wait, my daughter is 15 and she has more maturity than I did in that moment…maybe more like a toddler! I became so angry, I lost my shit! My hot Latina temper was all too happy to join the festivities and make a “entrance,” if you know what I mean. It was bad! I was one hot tamale, I’m embarrassed to admit!
Pssssst…..This is about vulnerability….”the only path to more love, belonging and joy.” A reminder to myself as to why I’m sharing all this embarrassing stuff.
“I love what I have learned through marriage”
As I laid in bed lost in my tears, my upset and complete despair, I did ask myself repeatedly what the lesson was in all of it? I asked myself what my role was in this ridiculous situation that left me feeling so hurt and angry? I asked myself what I could do different? How did I end up here? What did I do that lead me to being in bed sick, crying in deep despair all day long? I never gave up on these difficult questions to myself, no matter how lost I became in my anger, because I know the only person I control is me. When I have a problem, I’m the problem, but why is he so insensitive!?!?! On and on it went, an then it hit me! Right between the eyes. I am the problem!
It came to me as I reflected on my parent’s marriage, I watched this identical fight between them, every time my mother became sick and unable to perform her duties. My father didn’t care for her as she expected when she was sick an my situation was no different. Here’s the problem…my father was never nurtured or cared for as a child as I detailed in my #1 best-selling book, The Secrets I Share With My Friends: Life lessons from an imperfect women. My father was on his own from the time he was about 11, what could he really know about nurturing someone else, no one nurtured him! My husband went to military school as a teenager, there’s not too much nurturing that happens in a military school. It’s ummm, military! Who nurtured him as a teen? No one! It’s not part of the curriculum. I’m pretty sure as loving as he is and can be, that he doesn’t know how to nurture someone who’s sick any better than my father did.
If I want my husband to be more nurturing towards me when I’m sick, I’m going to need to communicate my needs, so he knows what to do. He didn’t get the memo, because I never sent it! That’s ON ME, not him. My frustration was brought on totally by me, due to my lack of communication. My mom’s frustration was brought on by her too, she didn’t communicate (with precision) what she needed, she expected my dad to know. I expected my husband to know and having “expectations” of anyone without their permission, is a recipe for disaster. Especially when I never communicated the expectations and therefore expected my husband to read my mind! I don’t know about your spouse, but my husband has no mind reading skills that I’m aware of.
It was an ugly situation that could have been easily avoided. I didn’t communicate! I never sent the memo! Had I communicated, with precision what I needed, I’m sure my husband would have come through for me. I’m sure if I communicated to him that I was too sick to “show up” to handle my duties, he would have known not to ask about them, and likely helped me take care of them. I didn’t have that conversation, I expected him to know! That’s not fair to him, it’s not fair and loving to me and most of all it’s destructive in what it does to a marriage.
In having a conversation with a friend of mine about this, she related with me about not being cared for when she’s sick either. She also shared a story of a friend who had experienced the same a few days prior. Ladies…your husband can’t read your mind. The solution to this common marital problem is easy. If you have a specific way you’d like to be cared for, speak up! It’s okay to ask for help! It’s okay to put the super hero cape aside sometimes and simply be vulnerable, ALLOWING your husband to take care of you the best way he knows how. If you don’t speak your needs, don’t send the memo and don’t communicate, your husband is destined to fail. You’re not allowing it to happen when you don’t own your part of the communication for what you need.
Psssst….It’s also important to remember that he will care for you the way HE does it, not the way you do it. He’s not you and therefore can’t possibly show up as you would. It’s another one of my many mistakes when I expect that my husband will show up as I would. It’s not possible because he’s not me…he is his own person with his own way of doing things.
Give it a try next time you’re not feeling well. Be gentle, be specific and let him know you’re situation. I bet that whole communication thing works out great for you. Better than not communicating your needs at all, that’s for sure. I’ve tested it since our big debacle, it works like a charm, and my husband got to be my hero for helping me out. Makes me love him even more when I ALLOW him to show up for me when I need him.
Much love and many blessings!
P.S. Feel free to share this with your spouse, so he/she knows what’s happening the next time you’re sick. You know…that whole communication business I was talking about.