Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In sickness and in health

One of the things marriage counseling books tell you is that you'll both come into the marriage with different "normals" -- i.e., different expectations of what constitutes "normal" in different situations. For instance, in my family growing up, it was "normal" for us all to have dinner at different times, given the high number of activities we were all involved in; we would have family time together late in the evening while watching TV and/or reading together. For David's family, though, it was "normal" for the evening meal to be a time of family togetherness. While this may seem a relatively easy thing for me and David to reconcile in our new family (it's pretty easy for the two of us to decide to always have dinner together), the differences in our "normals" manifested in my not being used to talking over a family meal -- I never realized this until I was with David, but mealtimes are generally quiet times for me. I'm slowly learning to not shut down completely when I have food in front of me!

The marriage books never went into how different people deal with sickness, though. I think we had both assumed that David was the stronger, healthier one of the two of us. But what we've discovered over the last few years is that I definitely have a stronger constitution than he does. While I tend to complain of low-level (likely stress-induced) illnesses year-round, David is more susceptible to real illness. He tends to get flu-like symptoms about twice a year -- he gets seriously laid up with a cold, fever, weakness, etc. The poor guy has to shut down, and only occasionally feels up to forcing down some soup.

I have to confess, I wasn't the most understanding or nurturing wife when David first got sick early in our marriage. Especially when his sickness coincided with times we had planned to get together with out-of-town friends... It's "normal" for me to just power through my perceived sicknesses -- if something is important, I'll just choose to put aside my headache or queasiness to get that thing done. So I projected all of this onto David -- why would he "choose" to stay in bed rather than do the things I had wanted us to do??

But I'm learning! When David's running a temperature of 102 degrees, and is feeling clammy, and looks like this:

he certainly doesn't need me nagging him to get up and do stuff with me...

That's right, David's been sick this week. :( I'm doing my best to help nurse him back to health -- I came home from work early today to bring him some soup, and I've been running errands for him as needed this afternoon.

Here's hoping he's back to his normal, healthy self soon!