Introduction: This is one of a series of posts inspired by the upcoming wedding of a bright-eyed couple who we met via this blog. I have thought of things we have found helpful. Some are specific to being paralyzed, but most have a kernel that applies to any marriage.
As we were chatting in bed on a recent night --bed is where we have our best chats-- D commented, "this year has been so much better than our first year." We are coming up on our second anniversary and have looked back often on all of the lessons learned. This isn't to say this year has been easier. We have actually faced many challenges on both sides. But a significant difference is how I chip in.
The first few months of our marriage D did everything. Well, I did walk the dogs. Otherwise, almost all of the chores were on her. Coming from bachelorhood was one strike against me. Guys just aren't usually as picky as the fairer gender. Another strike: I was used to home health providers doing what I needed for convenience, not laziness. Strike three was that we simply weren't used to each other's habits. So, I had some learning to do.
Here and there I noticed things I could try. For you guys with limited mobility, it's going to take patience and creativity, but pushing your own limitations is important to getting and being better. I found myself recalling that line Jack Nicholson made famous, "You make me want to be a better man." It was fairly natural as I went along. I have pointy elbows and strong shoulders which proved perfect for deep muscle massages for my tired and wound-up wife. I mess up the floors a lot so I started vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping them. I contribute to the laundry, so I started folding.
As time goes by I look back on all of the ways I've contributed: cooking dinner, running to the store, planning dog coverage for our trips, pretty good list. D is breadwinner, caregiver and wife. All too often she has to balance those roles. By chipping in --however imperfect the results-- I take away some of that pressure, making my wife's life a little easier.