October 4, 2011

When Your Wife Is Sick

Usually when my wife is sick I try to baby her as best as I can, and I step up and take charge in the areas that she is usually responsible for. She’s been sick for the last few days, but she hasn’t been living on the couch, so I didn’t think she was feeling too bad.

Yesterday morning I figured I would get breakfast ready for us both, but she just went ahead to the kitchen and did it. I took this to mean that she was feeling better and didn’t say anything. Later she told me we were going to have grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. When I brought home the groceries after an appointment of mine, she began cooking and again I thought she must be feeling better.

Then last night before bed I could tell she wasn’t very happy. After a little bit of coaxing she finally confessed to feeling a little frustrated and said that when I’m sick, she babies me and takes care of me the best she can, but since she’s been sick, it doesn’t seem like I’ve wanted to go that extra mile.

This of course hurt because I want her to be able to count on me, so I gently explained that I felt like I was getting mixed messages. Since she wasn’t expressing how badly she was feeling, and since she was taking charge in the areas she usually does, I figured she was feeling better and was wanting to do those things she was doing. I told her that since this sickness wasn’t a debilitating one, I needed more verbal cues on how to help than what I had gotten.

She said she understood that and apologized, and she expressed that she struggles with feelings of guilt when she’s sick because she still wants to take care of me and the house. So unless I was explicitly telling her that she needed to lay down, she was going to keep moving. I told her I was sorry for not being as quick to help out as she needed me to be.

It was a good conversation, and one that reminded me that I need to have my what-can-I-do-to-help senses turned up a little higher when my wife has a runny nose.


  1. The exact same thing happened recently with us. I think it's the man-woman communication thing.
    We women assume our husbands understand and pick up on far more than you do or can.
    We girls do suffer a lot of guilt complex's regarding the home, hubby and kids and try and do more than we can sometimes.
    I think saying it better and asking questions that help (on both sides) is the way to go......communication!!
    Just found your blog btw...only read 2 posts so far but liking it!

  2. I think you and your wife are great communicators. One was able to express what he|she was feeling in a way the other understood. The other was able to respond with his|her feelings in response. And the two of you were able resolve the situation. What a great example you are providing.

  3. My family has gone through probably 3 bouts of various gross mutations of the flu and cold since last December. When I'm sick, I find that I tend to get selfish. I want as much rest as possible because in my mind, I'm seeing the backlog of work piling up. I don't think I ask for much in terms of caring and feeding but I'm generally in a bad mood the whole time and just want to be left alone. This last time I did try to help out with the kids but probably pushed it to hard and ended up with fevers coming back.

    My wife stays at home and does a great job taking care of the house and kids. I would say she's generally more likely to just push through her colds and flus and try to "keep the lights on" while trying to get better. This is awesome and I'm sure I take it for granted. Unless she's throwing up, she's a pretty good trooper.

    The problem with family colds is that not everyone gets better at the same time. This last time my wife ended up being the last one to get sick which meant while I might be better I'm working extra hours to catch up with work. It doesn't help that I have a full-time job and 2 side jobs. The work piles up exponentially when you miss just 1 day.

    Needless to say, it's an all around bad situation. Tonight I had a slight argument with my wife about how it all went down these last few weeks. She feels that I wanted her to feel sorry for me the whole time and that I got all this slack because I was able to call in sick from work. Then we got into about what the technical definition of "feeling sorry for someone" is.

    For me, I find it disappointing that she is bringing this up now. Furthermore, it seems like she is equating me being in a bad mood and moaning that I feel like **** to wanting her to feel sorry for me.

    I do agree that I could be more pleasant while I'm sick and definitely help out more. To some extent it seems like she feels it is unfair that her primary "job", the kids and house don't wait for her to get better where as mine do. (Yes I know these are my kids and my house too)

  4. It sounds like you just need to be more considerate and try telling you wife that you appreciate her taking on the extra burden.