• Cover: April 24, 2014
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What Makes a Good Wife

When her husband got sick, this writer could no longer be the reluctant caregiver

Page: 3 of 6
  • In a word: Yes.

    If pressed to explain why, when the person I loved most in the world needed me, I was not gamely there for him, I might say that I hail from a stoic New England family where sickness, pain, and distress were viewed as optional impediments to enjoying one's day. I've been bred to show contempt for any form of human weakness, because all ailments can and should be conquered through sheer mental fortitude.

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    But another explanation might be this: It is only when my husband is sick that I am forced to occupy a "typical" spousal gender role. I must cook the food and wash the clothing and take care of the children while my husband lies in bed. But usually he doesn't lie in bed, unless he's barely alive, because he doesn't want to deal with the fallout of me. He forces himself to be "fine" when he's not to spare me the pain of being, for a day or two, his wife.

What Makes a Good Wife
When her husband got sick, this writer could no longer be the reluctant caregiver
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