Adapted from Cindy Chupack | The Longest Date | Penguin Books, 2014
No one is ever at her prettiest while at her sickest. It’s not just the sniffling and sneezing and watery eyes that mar one’s beauty. It’s the whining and feigning helplessness and playing up of all other manner of cold-related drama that are so unsightly. And it ain’t just the ladies who indulge in such unbecoming behavior. Actually, let’s just be frank here, that tends to happen more often than not when guys get sick. Many an aspiring Florence Nightingale has unwittingly found herself struggling as a passive-aggressive caretaker with less-than-charitable intentions because of the noxious behavior of their sniveling other half. (To be fair, most wedding vows don’t in any way mention crumpled snot rags.) If nothing else, we can be comforted knowing best-selling author and award-winning writer Cindy Chupack is afflicted with the same feelings. Here, excerpted from The Longest Date: Life As a Wife, are her darkest and most self-deprecating thoughts about playing maid to her better half. See if you recognize anyone.–Renee Schettler Rossi
It was recently pointed out to me that when it comes to dealing with illness in our marriage, Ian is the more nurturing one. The fact that it was Ian who pointed this out (and it wasn’t the first time he’s done so) makes me feel he should lose a few nurturing points. I can’t imagine Mother Theresa bragging about how much more nurturing she was than everyone else in the leper colony, but, putting that aside, I have noticed that whenever I wake up with a sore throat or cold, Ian rises to the occasion almost eagerly, heating water for Theraflu, arming me with the remote, plying me with vitamin C, and getting chicken soup or sometimes even making chicken soup.
I, on the other hand, and somewhat to my surprise, do not enjoy taking care of a sick husband as much as I had imagined I might. I had visions of bringing my spouse soup on a tray accompanied by a flower in a bud vase and a carefully folded newspaper, like movie spouses do. Like Ian does. But that was not to be.
I would like to believe I will get better at nurturing with age (it will certainly become more necessary with age), but despite the example Ian set, I maintain that there is something about seeing your husband with a cold (even if he’s a very nice husband) that is just not appealing.
Of course, if Ian were seriously ill, that would be another matter. If he had something life-threatening or immobilizing, I feel certain I would rise to the occasion as I have for many friends over the years, but we’re talking about a cold.
I would like to add here that I rarely get sick. I get sick maybe once every year or two, and only for a few days. So taking care of me could be considered almost a novelty.
Ian seems to get sick more often (“like a regular person,” he would insist, because he thinks it’s weird that I get sick so infrequently). But when the fuzzy sock is on the other foot, when I wake to hear him sneezing in sets of seven without covering his mouth, coughing seemingly for dramatic effect, unable to open his eyes when he hoarsely talks—especially if he was out drinking the night before, which is sometimes the case—he just seems…weak.
By now it should be clear that I don’t deserve a husband. If it helps, I am as shocked and disappointed by this failure as Ian probably was. Until I got married, I was completely unaware that I had this bitchy inner nurse who just wants everyone to get up and get back to business, but I do, and—what can I say?—she hates her job.
Maybe I need to try harder. Maybe the next time he is sick I’ll make him soup, and bring it to him on a tray with a flower and newspaper.
But I doubt it.
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Excerpted from The Longest Date: Life as a Wife © Cindy Chupak. Photo © David Simmonds. All rights reserved.