This husband of mine is not like other men in so many ways, thank goodness! I don't have to put up with sports obsessions, nights out "with the guys", an excessive amount of male chauvinism (not and excessive amount), or the inflated sense of self that I see in other men. He has never been one to jump in and help with things around the house, but he's always done anything I've asked as a "favor" like he's giving me a present which usually leaves me feeling resentful rather than feeling appreciative. But it has all worked itself out after 18 yrs. of being best friends. It's been a long marriage already, and it hasn't been an easy couple of decades. We have been through so many changes, none of them too rough, but changes which have finally brought us to such a mellow place in our relationship.
When I hear other people tell of their marriage troubles I say, "Have his gallbladder removed, I'm convinced, somehow, that it's where the male ego is housed." That's because the even tempo of our marriage began after my husband had his removed. Of course it wasn't really because that organ was removed, it was as a result of a combination of many things. The first was that even though he is generally a mild tempered man, he felt so much better after having surgery and having that problem suddenly gone, nausea and pain-free for the first time in years, that his tolerance for everything was greater. Secondly, it was the first time since we have had children that I was able to set everything aside, knowing my children were old enough to understand that there was a need to take the focus off of them for a while, and simply take care of him. He'd had complications from what should have been a routine, out-patient procedure and after two extra days in the hospital they let me take him home while he was still recovering from a punctured liver and pneumonia. I hadn't had much time to fret over him in the previous years and most of the time I was so busy and exhausted from parenting and searching for myself that I didn't really want to worry about him, to be honest. He was a grown man, he could take care of himself and I was working, homeschooling, and trying to raise two little boys into men. That was my mentality. When I look back, I don't like it, but I don't know if I could have manged any other way. I had to be a perfect mom, I had to work and be true to myself, I had to help contribute to our bank accounts. I didn't seem to care that I didn't have to be the perfect wife. I actually said to myself, that something had to give somewhere and it couldn't be my parenting or my job. I could pull off almost all of it.
Well, you get out of anything what you put in. Our marriage was "fine", and anything it needed could wait until later. I didn't feel like he was making any attempt to improve things so I didn't have the energy to either, but secretly I was reading and researching anything I could get my hands on to figure out how to fix myself and my husband because I knew we just weren't happy.
So many things happened at once around the time of the surgery, that I am just now able to start looking back on it thinking, "What the heck just happened?!!" One stinging slap in the face after another is what I needed for an attitude readjustment and my husband followed right along behind me. It was crazy. I was there for him, giving and worrying and loving like I never had before, then after a major change in my personal life with my family, good and bad, he was there for me giving and loving. He was just there. I was just there.
At the same time I was discovering what was "wrong" with me and why I had so many strange quirks. I stumbled upon a term for the kind of person I am and realized I am "Highly Sensitive". So is my husband and because it can be hereditary, so are our children. It was amazing to discover, and has changed all of our lives. I can parent better, be a better wife, and for the first time, I know how to take care of me too. We don't talk about it much these days and my older boy refuses to be labeled. I try not to, but just relax in the knowledge that I have some inkling of what's going on with his feelings and understand his needs and likes and dislikes at the age he is because, even though I was a girl, I remember so vividly how painful it was to be that age and sensitive. I will never forget the day a teacher said it when I was in the 7th grade. He said I was "sensitive" in front of the whole class and for the first time it wasn't an accusation or someone pinpointing a flaw in me like close family members had done, it was simply a statement of fact, and he said it with kindness and understanding. It was a crazy moment that I have never forgotten.
So after all of these changes that have made a new me, a new husband, and a new family dynamic that was pretty darn good to begin with, I am still amazed at the little things that go on between this man and me. We just move around side by side through life now, doing the things that need to be done, helping each other when we need help, encouraging and listening better than ever. Knowing that we are more alike for our sensitivity than we have ever known before, helps each of us understand when the other person is stressed and overstimulated; that it's just that the other person is overwhelmed by something when they are not in the best mood, not that one of us has done something offensive. We still hit speed bumps that slow us down and some days we really just don't like each other, but then there's a sweet smile or tease and we roll on through life.
I was reminded of all of this by a simple exchange between us this morning. It changed my whole day and makes me laugh. I had been planning to use the wild cherry tree wood that has been drying all winter after we pruned our wild cherry tree, to smoke a pork loin for my cooking blog. A rainy weekend had forced me to change my plans. Already knowing the answer, I said to my husband, "Okay, no smoked pork loin, but I have Fettuccine Alfredo and Manicotti planned for the blog this week. Which do you want for dinner?" His face lit up like I said I'd won the lottery. Fettuccine Alfredo is one of his favorites, but I only make it about once a year because it's so fattening. I don't think I've made it since his surgery because his body needed to learn to metabolize fats again. None of the other high fat dishes I've made in the last 3 mos. for the blog have seemed to bother him, so I decided it was time to go for it. My, how helpful he's been since we had that conversation! Marriage is not supposed to be about points. You aren't supposed to keep score. But it sure is funny, that that's exactly how it works. There's no way around it for us lowly humans.
Here is a HSP link that I love. Just FYI.