Creeping Crud and Creeping Pride

Rich and “Jonathan,” Enjoying the Boat. July 4, 2011.

One Sick Husband

Rich faded when we returned home from church. “You don’t look so good,” I told him. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m just kinda down,” he told me, looking worn.

“What’s on your mind?”

“Nothing much,” he said, in an I’m done discussing it voice. 

“Well, it’s Sunday. Maybe some rest will help.”

He flopped on the sofa and grabbed the remote. I retreated into the kitchen, where I was surprised to discover annoyance rising within me as surely as dough rises beneath a snug towel.

What’s bugging him? How can I help when he won’t tell me what’s wrong? Why does he shut me out when he’s upset? 

I took a deep breath and reminded myself that my husband isn’t obligated to share every thought he bears. I reminded myself that he might still be sifting through his feelings, picking the grains of sadness from the chaff of the day’s noise. I asked God to lift the irritation from my heart and replace it with compassion.

I felt the warmth flood back in.

We passed a quiet afternoon, him resting, me puttering. As evening fell I called him to dinner.

He appeared in the kitchen bundled in a coat, looking pale. “I don’t feel so good,” he said.

“What is it?”

“My stomach….”

“Oh, see? Now that explains everything!” I sounded almost giddy. “No wonder you were feeling so rotten this afternoon. You were coming down with something! I made pork chops for dinner. Can you manage that? Would you rather I made you some soup?”

“It’s fine,” he said, taking his seat, speaking grace.

As I washed the dishes I recognized the sickness that had crept into me, right there in my own kitchen.

What kind of wife, I asked myself, is relieved to hear her husband is physically ill, rather than in a funk?  

I know the answer by heart. 

A wife who feels responsible for my husband’s happiness, that’s what kind. A wife who believes, somehow, that if I am a proper wife, my husband will never feel sad nor blue nor lonely nor angry … none of that whole negative spectrum of human feeling will visit him if only I am good enough. 

A wife who believes, pridefully, that I could ever be that good, ever offer that perfect love that casts out fear, sadness, anger, hurt.

My mom always called vague viral upsets, the kind that might keep you down for a day or two but didn’t require medical attention, the creeping crud.

The wifely infection I wrestle with is tougher. It’s called creeping pride. 

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB)