Thursday, September 2, 2010

Honey, You Need Another Wife

"Not to replace me, in addition to me!" I think the first time I said this to my husband he laughed, rolled his eyes back in his head and said, "Yeah right, like I could handle 2 of you!". But I was serious. I had yet to be diagnosed (with CFS & Fibromyalgia) but had already been through 3 severe bouts of pancreatitis and was developing horrible symptoms of pain and fatigue that no doctor was diagnosing or fixing. I worried for our futures. His if I were to die, mine if I were to not get better, or yet, keep getting worse as the trend seemed to be following (and boy did it follow...). "She could have the children and work so I could stay home and recover and we could have a family!" I protested. It seemed like a win-win to me, addressing the major areas I felt inadequate as a wife- childbearing and bringing in an income. In retrospect I believe I had been watching way too much Big Love & Girls Next Door, because for some reason polygamy did not seem like such a bad idea. Perhaps I liked the thought so much because I was the one that needed a wife! I needed help managing our lives, was getting too sick to maintain it myself, and an extra pair of hands seemed like just the remedy. Maybe this was the only-child-till-12 in me craving a girlfriend to hang out with every day, conceivably a fantasy-land of harem-ish sisterhood, or some stranger still flight of imagination that never actually truly considered what it would be like to put another woman in my husband's bed. "We could get a Russian mail-order bride", I would tease him. But as my health continued to decline and I kept after him about this he finally started getting mad. What man would turn this option down? I thought to myself, not understanding how badly I was hurting him, scaring him with the fears of my own demise wrapped up in a little box of sarcastic jest. One day he finally snapped and laid down the law. "Do not say that ever again! It is not funny, not an option and you sound like a lunatic!" he declared. "I love you and only want to be with you and don't care about having my own children. We can always adopt if/when the time is right. But when you say that it freaks me out so shut-up already!" He did not want another woman, he only wanted me. What a saint!

Needless to say I got over that one real quick. But I still worried about him. I had some strange fantasy-vision of myself on my death-bed, having picked out his new wife and trained her in all the ways a wife of experience knows how to make her husband happy (no I am not talking about sex, I am sure he could figure that one out on his own!). I loved him so much and feared for him solo, without me, facing the big-bad-cold-hard world alone. I wanted some buffer, some protection for him from the insanity and the easiest link for me to jump to was to create another me! I also felt horribly guilty for "ruining his life" with my illnesses. All our plans and hopes and dreams for the future were not just on the back burner, they had been taken off the stove and put into the refrigerator! I was grateful, so grateful for his steadfastness, but the guilt was insane. Oh I have seen and heard the horror stories and know how bad abandonment when you are already down can be. Whenever I would express gratitude or appreciation that he had stuck around he would just look at me and say, "What are you talking about, you are my wife!" like it had never been a question to anyone ever that they might bail on their sick spouse. See my parents have multiple divorces between them, his remained married until 1 passed on. There is a fundamental difference in upbringing there I took for granted. Also, his father had strokes when the kids were younger and his mother was a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), so health problems did not fly at him and smack him in the face from left field the way they did me, did not freak him out running for the hills. They were just part of life. And then there is the oh-so-important fact, that is just the quality of person he is. I have carried these guilty feeling with me for the last 5 years, always marveling at how he has never wavered, never questioned, just stood by me and loved me and believed in me. Through his devotion I found the strength to make the decision to fight my ass off to get my life back.

It took this latest health trauma (the 2 strokes) for me to see that although he has indeed been to hell and back with me, he would never leave me. It was never a question to anyone but my paranoid mind. How I got this lucky I will never know. We were 2 drunk college kids that fell in love at 22 and have clung to each other for dear life ever since. We have made a choice to put our marriage above all else, make it a priority, forced ourselves to grow together during times of personal change and made tremendous sacrifices for the sake of being together. We just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary and I finally feel like I have this marriage thing down. We have a groove, a flow, a fit that works. Yeah, we are both a little insane, but that makes it all the more interesting. So let me say thank you, honey, for just being you in all your amazing awesomeness. And to all you supportive spouses out there, you have not only made our lives worthwhile, you have made them worth fighting for.

Thanks for joining,


  1. Leah, you struck a chord with me about the guilt of "ruining his life", and the joy of realizing he was not going anywhere.

    We are both very lucky women!

    I still feel the guilt at times, but I also make sure I take care of him as best I can. He is a valued treasure, even when we both end up irritated over something like money. We always come back to the fact that we LIKE each other, and cannot see spending time, spending a life, with anyone else.

    I have fibro and arthritis, he has a bad back. We understand each other's pain, have learned (the hard way sometimes!) to accept our limits. When we get depressed, we allow each other the space needed, but don't allow each other to wallow. As the comedian Red Green says "We're all in this together."

  2. Leah,
    Such a beautiful post! You are a blessing to each other, true life partners, a team!