Friday, October 24, 2008


Yesterday's post about Tim got a comment that took me back. It began like so:
"So. Your husband, who you've pretty much maligned in this blog..."
I responded to it in the comments, but it's been eating at me for the day. It bothers me, because I think that I am, by nature, a pretty practical person. I married Tim knowing that he was not demonstrative, and to be honest, I do not need flowery displays of love. They're plenty nice, and I take them when I get them, but I think that I know Tim's heart well enough that our relationship doesn't depend on the 'displays'. We've plodded along, working well together for nearly 11 years. We are to all outward appearances, a close couple. I talk a lot. I'm the communicator. Tim talks a lot more than he did at the beginning, but he is what he is. We're a fairly good and hardworking team.
Suddenly along comes this bump in the road called cancer. Believe me, it set me back on my haunches. Re-evaluating, staring down the barrel at my own mortality, trying to explain it to 5 kids, one of whom is mentally ill, trying to process a huge amount of information very quickly. Some of this information had very large (and unfamiliar) words. I was trying to comfort the people who were comforting me, and I was trying to behave as a woman of faith would behave. I think I've been doing a fairly good job at this.
While I am fairly straight forward, Tim ignores things that he doesn't want to deal with. He simply doesn't acknowledge them. This is not to say that he doesn't worry inside, but he will not show it. It's all business as usual, and he finds comfort in his routine.Tim has a pretty bad case of scoliosis. It's bad enough that it actually stunted his growth. At 5'4", he's exactly the same height as me. I say this because his height had made him the butt of practical jokes growing up, because people perceived him as weak. Surprisingly, one of his greatest tormentors was his father (a preacher). Tim had pretty low self esteem when we met. I've spent a lot of time nurturing my husband, and he's come a long way. He'll tell you that, himself. He's a lot more asssertive. He's more of a risk taker, because he's begun to view himself as competant. There, in a nutshell, is the dynamics of our relationship.
This time around, I needed a little bit more. Initially, he balked. After all, I am the care taker. I am the person who nurtures. That's what it says in my profile, and it is true. So Tim dragged his heels and I insisted. I need my support, and it's what he promised in our wedding. At no time in our relationship, have I ever been 'needy'. Now I am. I need to know that I was valued, and I need to know that if the worst happens, he will be able to step out of his shell to comfort our children. I need to know that if I was weak for a while, he'd be strong. Sometimes I need a hug without asking for one, or without giving it first. Sometimes, I simply need him to cut me a bit of slack. I need him to understand that some days are difficult, and not to give me guff if I cry, or if I'm quiet, or if supper is slap dash, etc. I need to know that I'm more important than his routine.
In last month, Tim has begun to 'get it'. He is not perfect, nor do I expect him to be. But we've cried together (a first in our marriage), and we've begun to cling to one another (consolation sex is pretty...well...consoling, I'm embarrassed to say). We pray with one heart. All these things are good things, and like I said, we're all learning valuable lessons and will be better for it. I know that what Tim and I have had has always been strong, but we are becoming stronger. I just wanted to make it perfectly clear: my posts have never been intended to malign my husband, but to highlight the challenges any relationship faces when it hits a bump in the road.


Mary Paddock said...

Malign is a pretty strong word for what looks to me like a little normal marital grousing and I think it was especially mild considering the circumstances. The fact that you two love one another is pretty clear to anyone who visits your blog very often. Your willingness to be transparent about the stress this has put on you both is refreshing. Your blog wouldn't be as interesting or compelling it was all about perfect people. :)

jeanie said...

Oh lord I am in hate with blogger at the moment - I wanted to check something and "whoop" - it sucked a perfectly fantastis half-comment that I had spent whole minutes on.

The problem with non-verbal communication is that so much is lost.

You write wonderfully well, and I would have assumed anyone who has read you as many of us have know the love you and Tim do share - and we also have a fair idea that Tim isn't perfect - but we also have a fair idea that you aren't perfect, your relationship isn't perfect - and heck the whole world ain't perfect BUT we also know that you look at the world in a fantastically unique way and let us see so many beauties in the imperfections.

Who knows what that commenter meant when he said that. I actually think he was trying to be insightful and witty himself, with a bit of sarcasm in the mix for good measure and it didn't quite come off.

But the problem with non-verbal communication is so much gets lost. We don't see the hint of a chuckle in a group of words, so we don't know whether to see them as a stone launched through our windows or a paper plane tossed through the air.

Hugs Deb - what we do know is that Life can sure be funny - in all the nuances of the word.

Debby said...

The commenter may not have meant anything negative at all. I just, for the first time, thought of things in that light, and wanted to make sure that everyone understood. I put stuff together and send it out into the blogosphere and it never occurs to me how people are taking it. I just wanted to make sure that Tim had his due. Not perfect. Not a barbarian. Wanders about somewhere in between. Like all of us, I suppose.

Bush Babe said...

Dear "Other Bob"... we are quite sure you didn't MEAN to sound quite as DRAMATIC as you did in your comment... perhaps 'maligned' wasn't quite the word you were after... or if it was, then perhaps you might need to read here. And all the other places Deb expresses her feelings about the wonderful Tim.

We all know Deb loves her man... and we all know none of us are perfect... and that gets expressed no better (or more beautifully) than in this blog.

Love your work Deb.
Hugs all

MuseSwings said...

No question in my mind about your relationship! Feelings and needs that are expressed and understood are what get you through a scary event. Explaining your needs are what will help bring them out. Love is there whether unspoken or or loudly proclaimed. Your writing is beautiful, poetic, heartfelt and wonderful!

Bob said...

What a great example you set, Debbie. You and Tim are blessed to have each other. Prayers for him on Monday and, of course, I'm praying for you. Blessings.

Anonymous said...

Deb, one thing I am trying to teach myself, right now, is that it is YOUR blog and you can post what YOU want and say it how YOU like to. I am sure you don;t force anyone to read it!

steviewren said...

I think most of us understood you when you wrote of your need for Tim to venture out of his safe place and to start being there for you in an emotionally connected way. What you were asking for was nothing more than your due as his wife, like the vow says: for better or worse.

I think this reader just misunderstood your motive for writing about Tim's struggles to come to grip with the new reality in your home. You've been clear in this post as to your feelings about Tim and his love for you. No misunderstanding now.

Redlefty said...

To be fair and humble, most of us dudes are far closer to perfection that we are to barbarian-states.

I mean, Tuesday night I put away some dishes. I was practically on the verge of sainthood and it intimidated me, so I spent the next couple of days doing dumb manly stuff to balance it out.

Mary Paddock said...

Redlefty--As a woman who lives with four boys (three of them teens, one just now ten) and a husband--LOL!

Back to your regularly scheduled program now . . .

Bob said...

People have all kinds of different ways of dealing with...oh, you know, life. There is no one way that is singularly more correct than another.

And it's just that I got the impression that Debbie considers Tim to be slightly...I don't know..."defective" when it comes to showing emotion and handling problems. I got the impression that Debbie considers herself to be the teacher to the student, and furthermore that if said student doesn't improve it could jeopardize their very marriage. )(Deb has said as much, actually.) This is what I meant when I wrote that Debbie had "maligned" Tim in her posts.

I had gotten the impression that Tim was a "typical guy"...slightly dysfunctional...who buries things he doesn't want to deal with. Turns out he has a whole plateful of things he's dealing with, some would say successfully albeit stoically. Remember, it is *he* who has the job with health benefits, as tenuous as that may be.

You can't say that Debbie is relying on Tim to be the breadwinner while she stays home and raises the kids; she was apparently doing okay on her own, and didn't even want to get married again in the first place. So she obviously doesn't "need" a man around for any reason, except perhaps those aforementioned health benefits. But now that Tim is in the picture, she says he must change as a condition of their continued marriage.

Ooooookay...maybe I'm just being a typical guy here, but WTF? Did they marry in too much haste, before they properly got to know each other? Maybe he should have carried that rock around in his pocket a while longer.

Now, Debbie: People have been ladling on the sympathy for your condition - and I would not take any of that away, you certainly deserve it. Not too long ago, my dad died of cancer (in my house). We watched him suffer with it for five very long, very painful years. It was not easy on any of us, least of all him. I know the toll it takes, both physical and emotional.

His death reminded me that: a) none of us gets out of here alive; and b) I could go at any time, especially considering the kind of work I do. To me, every damn day is precious because it could be my last. And if it is? I'm cool. Tomorrow is guaranteed to nobody...not me, not you, not anyone.

Good blogs, like this one, are confessionally intimate in a way no newspaper column ever could be. Debbie, you let so much of yourself shine through that it's like I know you personally. The trouble with all blogs is that while we think we "get to know" the writer, we never really do. I'm sure people read my blog and have some big misconceptions about me.

Tim sounds like a great guy - both from what you've said *and* what you haven't. And what you derisively call "acting as if it's business-as-usual" sounds to me like "taking care of business" as an adult should.

That's all I meant.

And while I may not agree with you, I wish you years and years of continued cancer-free good health and good fortune.

Bob said...

Oops, that'll teach me to edit in MSWord and not on Blogger itself. I unconsciously used the feminine spelling of Deb's name. I should have seen that it was Debby and not Debbie.

All my life, people have called me Bobby with a "y," and my sister's wife is named Marion with an "o," not Marian with an "a" as I might expect.

I get sooooo confused...

Anyway Deb, one-thousand apologies or more.


Debby said...

Actually, Bob, my name is spelled the way my parents showed me to spell it all those years ago when I was first writing my name. Did not realize that it was not the feminine form.

I think that you infer derision. It is not that I consider Tim less than me for the way he deals with life. It's always worked fine until now.

Health benefits: I always carried my own until two years ago when I went to work for the county. We met working at the same factory. This is the first time that I've not had health insurance in my life.

The fate of our marriage rests in Tim's hands solely because if one partner is wrestling with a life changing situation that the other refuses so much as to acknowledge, the distance and alienation will break the marriage. Any marriage.

You're welcome to your opinions, even if you are forming them in haste and on the picture of me that you've formed from my blog. I am, however, more than my blog. Tim is also more than you see on my blog. Our marriage is more than it appears on the blog. Deciding that you see the big picture and that no one else does is judgemental, harsh, and incorrect.

Bush Babe said...

Hmmmmm. Perhaps Bob, some of this explanation should have fallen into the "least said, easiest mended" category. If that was an apology, it was a mighty backhanded one.

Can I suggest that, if you are really keen to "get to know" Deb, that you trawl a little more deeply into her blog so you get the most balanced view. Any of us (male OR female) who have been with this blog for some time are not of the opinion anyone is being maligned.

And perhaps it might help to keep in mind that our lovely Deb and her partner still face much of this journey... let's keep it a bit positive!

Life is too short (for all of us) to spend it on scoldings or passing half-founded judgements.

Go in peace and spread some joy, my friend!


Blicky Kitty said...

I was about to pipe in but I now wish to change my comment to "what bush babe said."

Lavinia said...

Hi Debby. Another interesting post. Catching up here. I can only speak for myself. I've never once had the impression that you were maligning Tim.

Tea Time With Melody said...

I happened upon your blog via a blog via my sister, whew. My prayers are with you, your husband and family. I am sure these are difficult times right now and you each deserve the support of the other. I wish you the best. :)