This morning one of my favorite bloggers ever, at “worrywort’s guide to weight, sex and marriage“, wrote about the need to keep ourselves in balance, and to keep our eyes open to the wonder all around us. She wrote about her love for her husband, and how it took a serious life threatening illness, and almost losing him, to make her truly appreciate how much he means to her.
I can promise you that she writes more poignantly than I ever could, but reading her post this morning made me remember the moment when I discovered, completely by accident, the cure for “taking-him-for-granted syndrome.” Since I hope to one day write this theory up as a research based couple’s therapy technique, I have decided to tell my sordid story here. I hope that you can all relate.
I also hope that the idea gets picked up by Oprah and that Paul and I end up writing a book and going out on the lecture circuit. The very idea of doing a book signing sends chills down my spine!
So here is how it all unfolded.
It was a freezing cold Sunday afternoon, about a dozen years ago. There were probably three feet of snow piled up on our roof and we had had a couple of those nasty roof leaks into the kitchen and bathroom. I was trying to make Sunday dinner, do some paperwork for school, and keep our three young kids under control. Paul was trying to deal with the weekend chores.
I don’t remember exactly why I was feeling this way, but I was in a cranky don’t-even-think-about-it mood. Maybe I was tired of the kids always being sick. Maybe I was tired of coping with yet another endless New England winter. Maybe I was just plain tired. Who knows? All I know is that I was sitting on the couch, folding laundry while the kids watched a movie on Nickelodeon (see how tired I was? I mean, really….!) Paul had gone out on the deck with a ladder to try to break up the ice dams over the kitchen window. He opened the slider and asked me if I would mind holding the ladder for him while he chipped away at the ice.
I got up, grumbling and complaining the whole time. I dragged out my boots and shoved my feet into them, then wrapped about twenty feet of scarf around my neck and face. I pulled on my winter coat and a pair of the thickest mittens I could find. It was FREEZING out there that day!
In my head, I was having a compelling and intense dialogue with my own self. It went something like this:
“I don’t how in hell I ended up living out here in the damn boonies like this!”
“Seriously. It was his family that made you even look at houses out here.”
“I know! And he is constantly doing boring things like fixing pipes and shoveling snow!”
“You’re so right. You should have married someone way more fun.”
“I could have done better.”
“You could have.”
I agreed with myself as I stood in the frigid air on my deck that January day, holding onto the ladder with my frozen fingers. Paul was up on the roof, blissfully unaware of my inner turmoil, chopping at the giant wave of ice with a sledgehammer.
Suddenly, without warning……
From the highest point on our roof, he slid down feet first toward the edge of the deck and a drop of 12 feet to the yard below.
My heart literally stopped for a beat, then slammed into my chest with a shriek. “PAUL!!!” I pictured him falling, I pictured myself racing to his side. The call to 911, the ambulance ride, the weary doctor shaking his head as he came to tell me the bad news, the years of my life stretching out without him, my children growing up without Dad, without his calm wisdom and gentle hand.
His life flashed before my eyes.
And then his boot heel caught in the gutter, and his plummet to earth was halted. I quickly slid the ladder to where he held on, and he climbed down with shaking legs. As soon as his foot hit the solid decking, I threw my arms around him and burst into sobs. “I do love you! I do!”, I cried, as he stood there in total bewilderment.
I got myself under control as we both went back into the house. We sat with the kids, warmed ourselves by the fire, ate our Sunday dinner together.
To this day, when I start to get snippy with my wonderful husband, he will give a sigh, smile just a bit, and ask,
“Should I go get the ladder?”