I know someone who used to get really irritated when her husband took care of things for her. She was a strong, independent woman and it really bothered her when he’d step in and take charge. It was the main thing that would spark arguments between them.
I, too, am strong and independent, so I can kind of get where she was coming from. After all, one of my first full sentences was, “I can do it myself!”
But here’s the thing. (Yes, there’s always a thing.) In every long-term relationship I’ve ever had up to this point, I’ve been the one taking care of things.
I planned the trips, organized the doctors’ visits, and kept our financial house in order. I was the writer of lists, the finder of lost keys, the maker of reservations, the problem solver. I was the one to say, “Don’t forget you have that thing today.” I kept track of the birthdays. I bought the gifts. I turned off the burners on the stove. I made sure the lights stayed on.
Because of that, to others I looked like the nagging fishwife. I was the bad guy. What no one on the outside seemed to realize was that somebody had to drive this thing, or our ship of state would have foundered on the rocks.
It was exhausting. It was stressful. Unbalanced relationships always are. I felt more like a mother than a lover.
Now, for the first time in my life, I have someone who wants to take care of me. Man, this feels weird. I’m not going to lie.
In all of my 53 years, I’ve never known what that was like. Ever. I’m struggling with the notion that I deserve it. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. But I like it. A lot.
I like that he is willing to go to doctors’ appointments with me. I like that he likes to drive, and usually knows where we’re going better than I do. He remembers to put the concert tickets in his wallet. I like that he makes plans and lists. I like that he reminds me of things as much as I remind him.
Is this what it feels like to have someone give an actual sh*t about you? Well, alrighty then. I’ll take it.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to turn into an albatross around my husband’s neck. I certainly know what that feels like, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
No. I want to do my part. I want this to be an equal partnership in the aggregate. (Realizing that on some days one of us is bound to be in better shape than the other, and that’s okay.)
But that will be a challenge for me. Because that means not doing every single solitary thing myself. It means learning to sit back sometimes and say, “Go right ahead, honey.” It means not having to worry about keeping track of everything. What a concept.
I’ve never been able to do that before. It feels like, for the first time, I have a chance to catch my breath. I think I could grow accustomed to this. I’m certainly willing to try.
I just need to learn not to feel so guilty when I’m not on point. I also need to make sure that I keep up with my end of things. I need to not lean too hard, and make sure that he will never doubt that he can rely on me, too.
Most of all, I never, ever want to take this for granted. Because, like a fragile flower, this marriage needs nurturing by me, too, in order to bloom.