The Sick Guy – Shoot Him, Tend to Him or Learn from Him?

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I want to talk about something that just hit me like an anvil upside the head the other day.

If you’ve ever been in relationship with a man, trust me, you’ve experienced this:

The Sick Guy…

(shudders…)

Perhaps your hackles are already raised. You’re envisioning your man, lying in bed, moaning, asking for soup, and lozenges, and a heating pad, and a glass of water, and a large slice of your very soul. And he’s asking for all of it in that voice that clearly demonstrates his eminent demise.

Here’s the play-by-play:

His voice, a raspy whisper: “Sweets?”

Me, working downstairs, “Yeah?”

“Can you bring me some soup?”

“Yeah, we have Lipton Chicken Noodle or Cream of Celery.”

“Don’t we have any homemade soup?”

“You know we don’t. Are you wanting homemade soup, love?”

“Would you mind? With homemade noodles.”

(Sure, shall I mill the flour too, head on over to Europe and pluck the non-modified wheat? Track down John of God and ask him to bless it? Slit my wrists and add 1.5 drops of my own blood?)

“Sweets, I need some water. No ice.”

“Can you bring me a hot water bottle? Extra hot. With a soft towel wrapped around it?”

Am I exaggerating? Only slightly. Is this an amalgamation of every man I’ve ever been in relationship with? Pretty much.

After a couple days of this you may be wondering if you can ever sleep with your guy again since you’ve suddenly become his mother.

Or… maybe this is all me, but if you can relate at all then you understand how much this used to drive me batshit crazy.

Notice I said “used to.”

I had a revelation a few weeks ago, when I was feeling under the weather myself and pushing through, forcing myself to work, making myself fix dinner, pulling myself this way and that to get things done despite my low energy. I realized that my guy doesn’t do this. When men are sick they literally stop. Everything.

Work stops.

Chores stop.

Obligations stop.

He stops.

Why don’t I simply just stop? And… when I make that choice not to, because believe me it’s my choice, how am I justified in feeling resentful (the silent killer of relationships everywhere) toward my guy for not allowing me to stop. He didn’t tell me not to. Why am I too prideful to say “Can you bring me some soup with homemade noodles?” Nope, instead I throw on my martyr cloak, snot rolling down my upper lip, eyes bloodshot, and limp around, head lolling on my chest and say things like, “I’ll be okay,” and “I’m fine.”

The world isn’t going to end if I stay in bed for a few days. If I had kids I’m sure I’d even have enough strength to dial the phone to order a pizza for them. Or, holy hell, I could ask my guy to do it.

I’ve come to believe, when that anvil hit me, that guys have been getting a bad rap. We could learn a thing or two about self-care from them if we stopped long enough to pay attention, shed our martyr cloaks, wipe our noses and go to bed.

What’s your experience with The Sick Guy? Do you don or shed your martyr cloak when you’re under the weather?

11 replies
  1. Avatar
    Sally Bartolameolli says:

    Hysterical!

    For years, I thought my husband just couldn’t see what we had in the fridge. He could find the crackers in the pantry. He thought we were always out of ketchup. Then I found a magnet entitled “Another case of male refrigerator blindness” with a picture of man looking in the refrigerator for what was right in front of him.

    That’s how I feel about your story about the sick guy. I thought it was only my husband groaning and moaning….loudly. I was embarrassed thinking I was alone with this and like the “refrigerator blindness” epidemic among men, I’m not alone here either.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Melanie Bates says:

      OMGoddess, Sally, I’m laughing so hard right now at your comment. Just the other day my guy couldn’t find something in the cupboard and asked me about it. This morning I saw it front and center right before my eyes as soon as I opened the cupboard. In fairness, there may have been a cup in front of it when he looked. But still…

      No, you’re not alone.

      <3
      Melanie

      Reply
  2. Avatar
    Chara says:

    Good article, Melanie. It makes me sad…for myself. But it’s good to reflect. I once got pneumonia because I didn’t spend a single day in bed with a case of the flu. And the pneumonia took literally months and years to heal because it resulted in asthma. My husband, it’s true, soldiers on easily with a cold but burrows under the covers with a fever or stomach bug–as he should. I guess I’d do well to follow his example more. A lot of self-care advice these days is about following one’s inner guide, etc. Maybe we just need to imitate men!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Melanie Bates says:

      LOL! Yes, Chara, you’re on to something. “Just imitate men!” But, oh, I’m sorry to hear about the asthma! That makes me want to care even more for myself when I’m sick. ACK.

      Big love,
      Melanie

      Reply
  3. Avatar
    Fiona says:

    Brilliant Melanie!

    It resonated so much that I promptly sent it off to a friend/colleague, who proceeded to read it out to the rest of the office. Much laughter and sage nodding followed.

    In the days when I was married, husband’s illnesses – “Are you sure it’s just flu and not meningitis?” – seemed to require breakfast, lunch (cooked), dinner and snacks am and pm. It was exhausting.

    And, yes, I was a beleaguered martyr, Wise to that game now, if I do work when sick it is a conscious choice. More often than not though, I retreat to the couch to catch up on Netflix.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Melanie Bates says:

      Thanks, Fiona love,

      I thought there just might be “sage nodding” around this topic 🙂 I’m so appreciative that you shared it. I laughed out loud over the “Are you sure it’s just the flu and not meningitis!” Sending loads of love.

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply
  4. Avatar
    Sheila Bergquist says:

    OMG how true this is. Men turn into complete babies when their sick and you’re right that maybe we should learn a lesson from them. The only thing I have found is that they don’t take care of us nearly as well as we do of them when we get sick. And there’s always a bit of knowing they are irritated when they are doing it. Maybe that’s why we just try to go on and not succumb to our illnesses.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Melanie Bates says:

      You probably have a really spot-on point about the irritation though I have to say, for me, I love the “clumsy attempt.” Just the effort. My guy took such great care of me when I had my hyster this year. I think all of us, men and women, do want to be of service in some fashion. It’s like women who “jump to” when someone passes – we’re right there, on the ball, asking how we can help, what casserole can we make. Maybe we’re just not idle creatures in our nature.

      Big love, Sheila!

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply
  5. Avatar
    Kristin Rose says:

    This is so true, Melanie. I came down with the flu at the very end of September, and I stayed in bed exactly zero days. As a consequence, I was sick for THE ENTIRE MONTH of October. Perhaps if I’d taken a break, my immune system would have stood a fighting chance. I often deal with anemia because, not only do I not stop when I’m sick, I can’t seem to shovel enough actual food in my face at consistent enough intervals to keep my engine running.

    My husband, however, has a cold right now. He’s taken two days off work for it.
    Cheers.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Melanie Bates says:

      Ooh, I hear that. Why I can’t seem to stop to even eat is beyond me, Kristin. There’s definitely something to learn from these menfolk, even when we want to smother their whining with a large pillow 🙂

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply

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