I have this amazing husband. He takes such good care of me. And that’s not something I’m used to, at all. For 53 years I’ve either been alone or in a relationship where I had to be the caretaker, and it was exhausting. I could definitely get used to this, and I plan to.
But on the other hand, I hate it when people infantilize me or act like I’m not capable of taking care of myself. I hate the implication that as a woman, I’m somehow incapable and automatically need help all the time. I’ve written about this before. I am NOT made of glass.
It’s a struggle to find the balance. And yet somehow my husband seems to find it the vast majority of the time. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how he does that. How does he manage to be so solicitous, so caring, without giving the impression that he finds me incompetent?
By way of example, we walk hand in hand. That’s not only for the romance, but also because I have suffered a lot lately from vertigo and blurry vision, and, let’s face it, I have lacked focus, and often overlook pesky things like uneven paving stones. He also helps me down flights of stairs, as I’ve got some wrist damage going on, and it would really be unfortunate if I fell. He opens doors for me, not because he thinks I can’t do so myself, but because he wants to show his love. And if I have to go to a sketchy rest area bathroom, he listens out for my scream, not because he thinks I can’t kick some major butt when adrenalized, but because the world is going mad.
So why doesn’t this feel like infantilization to me? We’re both getting older. I tend to point out cracks in the sidewalks to him, too. We’d like to keep each other. We balance like a tripod, and that’s a much more stable structure. He also makes it quite clear that he has confidence in my agency. He knows I’m intelligent and that I plan for contingencies and avoid stupid risks. He seeks my advice as much as I seek his.
I think I’ve finally figured out the difference. He does what he does because he happens to be a gallant man. He’s not demonstrating that he’s somehow superior. He’s showing his love, and that as a part of this team, we both are protecting what we have. That means so much to me.
But I have to say that the other day we were walking hand in hand at the farmer’s market and I hit my shin on the handle of a badly placed delivery cart. He looked at me in horror and said, “Did I just walk you into that cart?” I had to remind him that I’m a grown a$$ woman, and I, myself, stupidly walked into the cart. I walk with him. He’s not steering me.
There will always be slight course corrections in every relationship. I don’t envy the fine line on which he’s forced to walk. I see it. I appreciate it.
The world will always throw random obstacles in our paths. Yes, there will be bruises here and there. But I sure am loving the path that we are on.