My husband is a patient man.
He’s the kind of man who thinks things through and waits.
It can be frustrating, for some people, to have conversations with him, because he doesn’t answer back immediately. He pauses, he thinks, he takes a moment.
I appreciate that about him because I think, too often, we waste our words and when he speaks, you know that he’s not just saying something to hear himself speak. It’s something that he has carefully thought through and it’s meaningful.
I’ll be honest…sometimes his patience is frustrating to me, as well, because I like to make a decision quickly. Sometimes, you just gotta jump in.
With my husband, the only time he ever acted spontaneously was the morning he woke up and decided he couldn’t live another second without knowing I was going to marry him, and he called in sick (something else my husband never does), bought a ring, and proposed.
I try to remind him of how great that turned out and that spontaneity is often greatly rewarded.
However, his patience runs deep and comes from a childhood of needing to practice that patience.
My husband is the youngest of four children.
I won’t divulge their current ages, but I’ll say that, at one time, they were one, two, three and five years old.
Their poor, poor parents.
Some people say that being the youngest meant that they got everything they wanted. That they were spoiled and expected things to be handed to them for the rest of their lives.
For my husband, it meant that he learned to be patient.
Over the years, we’ve watched home movies of their family, and in them, you see his brothers and sister aping away for the camera…jumping and yelling and acting and goofing around, and there, in the corner, is my husband…sitting in his high chair, watching it all go down.
If it were me, I’d have been plotting my revenge.
I was an only child with lots of time on my hands to imagine and create and scheme and…
Anyway…he was just patiently watching.
While I feel for the guy…I do…I have to say, I’m damn lucky to have found him.
Because, my friends, patience and an even-temper are two qualities I have not.
Let me give you an example.
When my husband and I were dating, we lived in neighboring towns.
One day, he came over, after work, and we settled in to watch a movie.
Throughout the movie, he began to cough, and it irked me because he’d been coughing for a week and because he’s a male and has that gene…you know the one…the “I don’t DO doctors OR medicine” gene…he hadn’t been doing anything about it.
I was worried about him, sure, but more than that, the coughing was interrupting the movie and we kept having to rewind, and it was the days of VHS and not DVD, so that, in and of itself, was a huge pain in the ass.
“Are you going to see a doctor about that?” I asked.
“Clearly you aren’t. You’ve been coughing like that for a week. You should really see a doctor.”
We went back and forth like this for some time, with me nagging, him patiently deflecting and us rewinding, until finally, I exploded.
Wiith great flourish, I jumped up, stalked across the room and grabbed the brand new 150 count bottle of Centrum vitamins I had bought that morning.
I spun around, wild-eyed, shook the bottle and him and yelled, “Fine! If you aren’t going to take care of yourself, then I’m not going to take care of myself!”
I stomped to the bathroom, unscrewed the lid and began to dump out the contents.
I’ll show him, I thought to myself.
Won’t see a doctor? I thought. Well, then I won’t take these vitamins. Better yet, I’ll dump the whole bottle out. The bottle I just spend $35.00 on this morning. $35.00 that took me a half a day of substitute teaching to earn. $35.00 that I could have bought three books with. $35.00 that…
Crap. I’m an idiot.
But, I’m nothing if not committed, and I had already begun the dumping, and there was nothing that was going to stop me from dumping that whole damn bottle in the toilet.
Even if I was shaking my head at my own stupidity while I did it.
When the last pill had hit the water, I looked at bowl.
I had a moment where I almost reached in and started scooping them out, like the junkies in the movies who toss their stash.
But, the thought of him walking in, seeing me up to my elbows in the bowl, mascara running down my cheeks from the toilet water that splashed my face as I was frantically grabbing the pills, crying “No! No! I need them! I need them!” made me straighten up and get back to business.
I gave it a loud flush, tossed the bottle in the garbage can with a (less than) satisfying thunk, and walked back to my room, shoulders back, head held high.
And there he sat…hunched over, shoulders shaking, desperately trying not to let me see him laughing.
I threw myself next to him on the couch and said, quietly, “So there.”
He composed himself, leaned back and put his arm around me.
“You sure told me,” he said.
“Damn straight,” I replied.
I’d like to say that my awesome display of righteousness moved him to call the doctor the next day.
Or, maybe I’d really like to say that he didn’t call the doctor and then developed a case of pneumonia and the doctor, standing by his bedside said “If only you would have listened to Amy and come in sooner…this all could have been avoided.”
I’d like to say lots of things that paint me as the winner in this story; that prove that my righteous indignation was well-placed and that my tantrum was rewarded.
However, as he had done with so many things in his life, he patiently waited it out and the cough eventually passed.
And now, when he sees me about to blow my top, he simply murmurs in my ear, “Centrum in the toilet” and I’m reminded that my nonsense is usually just bluster and his patience generally wins the day.