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.