I (Mel) used to feel irritated and isolated when Mark was sick, as he’d clam up and shut down. In addition to the daily care of our kids, pets, and household, it seemed to me that I had an additional child to care for. I felt burdened by the extra work of caring for Mark, and I wore myself down caring for everyone else. Yet, when I was sick, I was expected to continue in my usual role and take care of myself. How fair was that?
Early on in our marriage when I was sick, I prioritized my energy to get work done or to help me to get back to work. I isolated myself, telling myself it was best for everyone if I was alone. I contributed nothing to our home and family life at these times.
Over time, as Mark and I learned to communicate better, we discussed what we wanted the other to do for us when we’re sick. I realized that Mark didn’t expect me to do everything I thought he did. Turns out I had been placing much of the burden on my shoulders myself.
Somehow just telling her what I need when I am sick and hearing what Mel needs from me when she is sick greatly simplified things. I had a nice little list of things to do that was easy to follow. Rather than expecting Mel to push through when she was sick, I ran interference with the kids so she could nap for a couple of hours. She was in better spirits, recovered sooner, and had more patience with me and our children.
When Mark was sick for a week this winter, I realized that I finally wanted to take care of him with all my heart. I hated to see him feeling so sick and I was happy to pick up the slack so he could rest and heal. We talked about how it’s now a joy to do this for each other.
These days, I don’t look so much at the things I do for Mel when she is sick, but the spirit in which I do these things. Doing all that I can to tenderly care for Mel is showing her the fullness of my love. It is the best way I know how to strive to keep the promise I made to her on our wedding day.