Many of us take those traditional vows at our wedding ceremony, “…for better and for worse, for richer or for poorer, in good times and bad, etc…” And life and marriage have ways of reminding us of those words every once in a while.
One recent Saturday afternoon, my daughter and I headed out to run a few errands. I had forgotten that it snowed the previous day, which overnight turned into about 1.5 inches of ice overnight and needed to be cleaned off of my car. My daughter hopped in the passenger seat, and I turned on the car to warm up. I attempted to start the scraping, but the ice was not having it.
I texted my husband with the comment, “Holy ice,” and called the house twice, with no response. I resumed my picking action, but after a few minutes, I walked back into the house, and half-joking/half-hinting, I screamed down to the basement to get my husband’s attention, “So, will this ice eventually melt?” To which he screamed back up, apparently thinking I didn’t know how the world of ice worked, “Yes!”...and in the basement, he stayed.
Shrugging my shoulders and slightly disappointed, I went back outside and continued chipping away alone. “Maybe he’ll come out soon” turned into “he is not coming out here!” After 45 minutes, the car was ice-free, and we were finally able to get on the road.
One of our errands included buying birthday cards for my husband since his birthday was the next day. Mind you, if my birthday were the next day, I would have helped scrape the ice. I was not getting gypped on presents! But I digress.
Now, I fully admit that I did not specifically ask my husband to help. Although a text, two calls, and a scream into the basement sounds like a big plea for help! I hear you and all the phrases that you can throw at me. “You don’t get what you don’t ask for” and “People are not mindreaders.”
Yet, after almost 25 years of marriage, most partnerships have some expectations. My husband always does the snow “stuff”! And after 25 years, you still want some proof that “the romance is still alive.” Doing something for each other, no ask required.
Early in relationships and marriage, you would have done anything for each other. There is no question in my mind that he would have cleaned off the car. As anti-women’s lib as this sounds, he is stronger than me, and chipping away at 1.5 of ice is easier for him.
My daughter said, “Daddy isn’t helping?” I wanted not to be snippy, yet what came out of my mouth was, “Don’t you feel bad for me that my partner didn’t help?” She gave me a funny look and replied, “Yes.” While not perfect, I hoped our marriage would be an example for my children. I want my kids to find that partner who helps them feel whole.
Later in the day, for the sake of honest and open communication, I nicely said, “I can’t believe you didn’t help me with the ice!” to which he responded, “You didn’t ask.” And I replied, “I never thought I’d have to since in the past you would have helped or handled it yourself.” I know, I know – woe is me. Even though there are times when we annoy the crap out of each, we have it pretty good.
Yet, as ridiculous as this sounds, I felt sorry for myself and questioned all sorts of things about long-term marriage, taking each other for granted, going through the motions, etc.
Later that evening, I told my daughter that if I was in dire pain later, she should remind me about all that manual labor. Well, that turned out to be foreboding! The universe was mocking me!
After we returned home from dinner, all four of us headed to our respective corners. My daughter went to her room, my husband and son to the basement, and I laid down on the couch to watch television.
Shortly after getting comfy, I started feeling odd pains in my throat and chest. My son was in the room, and I said, “Go get daddy.” It felt like massive reflux. Or that the baked potato I had with dinner was reassembled in my body and was sitting in my throat. My husband came to the living room and panic set in. And I was sweating! I ripped off my sweatshirt and walked outside with just a tank and leggings. 20 or 30 degrees, and there I was!
At this point, it was tough to differentiate the panic from the pain, and it was understood that we were going to the ER, which we live about five minutes from.
Very long story short, I was in the hospital for two evenings. I was still working a few things through with the doctors, but lots of tests and blood work confirmed it was not the heart attack I feared. The incident brought me back to reality regarding my marriage and my husband.
He gave me his socks when I realized I had left the house without any on.
He sat by my side as the doctors, nurses, and techs came in and out of the ER room, asking many questions. He even helped answer a few because he knows me. He sat by my side as the doctors who initially thought my pains were GI-related realized it very well be something worse due to some blood test results.
As the clock turned midnight, it became my husband’s birthday. Whenever I was asked my name and date of birth, I’d answer the question but follow it with – but today is HIS birthday, so everyone knew.
He stayed with me in the ER until I was admitted to a hospital room around 2 a.m. He called my parents in the morning to fill them in on what was happening. When he left, he said he would be back at 11 a. .and he was, with a charger, a notebook, AirPods, my LA Times Sunday crossword puzzle, and a few other comforts from home. And new undies!
He spent his birthday in the hospital with me, and the next day he came promptly at 11 a.m. again.
After being discharged, he stopped by the store to pick up all my new meds. He handled the morning, afternoon and activity runs all week with no discussion to be had. (Usually, we alternate days). He arranged for and dropped off my car for an oil change, repairs, and yearly inspection.
Now some of you might think – of course he did lady! That’s marriage! He is your husband. True, very true. However, as we sat in the hospital that every day, “take for granted” feelings fell by the wayside.
A little crisis kicked us back into gear with gentle reminders to be attentive. We’re busy. Life sometimes takes over, and we forget the little things. It’s easy to get bothered by the minutia of who did/didn’t do what and the associated whys.
Though, in 12 hours, I went from “poor little me” to “aww, I love us!” I may shoot daggers his way at times (as I’m sure he does to me), but I think he’s my rock. He makes me feel safe. Fine. Fine. He’s my person. Shh… don’t tell him! He’ll think I love him! (Kidding, of course, I do!).
Some might be better at keeping up with all the gestures, but it’s understood that we have it when it really counts. No ask required.
1997 vs. 2022