My husband was raised by a woman who believes that every sickness requires immediate and prolonged bedrest.
I was raised by a woman who believes you’re fine unless your fever tops 102 and (not ‘or‘) you’re vomiting profusely.
You might think this would cause some tension in our house when somebody gets the sniffles. And you’d be right.
When I’m sick and Pete is not, life is heaven. The man will not let me leave the sofa. It’s times like these that I adore his mother’s sickness philosophy. In fact, I embrace it.
When he’s sick and I’m not, I admit I get a little annoyed, but with more than 14 years of practice, I’ve gotten to the point that I can swallow my mother’s sickness philosophy and just be nice. So I putter around the house taking care of everything while he convalesces, and within a few days we’re back to normal.
The real problem, which we’ve been experiencing for the past several days, is when we’re both sick. It’s a clash of civilizations.
This time, the contrast was particularly obvious because I was sick for a full day before he came down with the same thing. For that first day, I got to nap and drink tea and watch television while he made all the meals and tended to the girls and went to the grocery store. The next day, everything changed. Suddenly, he could not do a blessed thing. So, even though I still had the fever and the body aches and violent cough, I had to suddenly switch from his mom’s philosophy to my mom’s. I had to shake it off, rub some dirt on it, and act unsick so that life could proceed. (An added wrinkle is the fact that our house is currently on the market, so we actually can’t let it all go to pot while we recover–who knows when a realtor might call for a showing?) This meant that I not only had to do all of my normal duties (cooking, laundry, vacuuming), but his as well (dishes and trash). At one point I stood in the kitchen, after having cooked and served the meal, doing all the dishes while Pete was upstairs, napping. I’m still not sure if the heat in my face was the fever.
And that’s why it’s obvious, to us anyway, why “sickness” is explicitly mentioned in marriage vows. Because, as silly as it might seem when colds are relatively minor and transient, they probably put more strain on our marriage than most other troubles.
For now, we’re still sick. And the house is still on the market, so we’re still having to keep it unnaturally clean. And Pete came down from his nap the other day apologizing for abandoning me to all the chores. In fact (I promise, I am not making this up) he just now walked into the laundry room to get a load out of the dryer.
Ain’t love grand?