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Parkinson's vs. Clueless Husband

Posted Jan 14 2009 8:54pm
Confusion, confusion, confusion . . . . . oh where do I begin?

I don't normally write about the negative aspects of my marriage, mainly because there aren't any. Keith and I have been blissfully sailing along in our lives together, seemingly on a never-ending honeymoon. We are very much in love, rarely fight and have always had great communication. But recently, Big Boy Shaky has been in the dog house. This has put me in a perpetual state of "what the hell am I doing?" Am I really justified in putting him in the dog house for being a clueless husband, or am I overreacting to his PD limitation? Let's take a look at a few of these instances and judge whether Keith was a clueless husband, or struggling with PD:

1. Keith and I have a "mixed marriage." I am Catholic, he is not. Two years ago when we had our daughter baptized, I asked for the paperwork that would give Keith an annulment from his ex-wife. This needs to be done so that the Church will recognise our marriage. I wanted to renew our vows in a small ceremony at my church on our five year anniversary. Now, I know that this is one of the Catholic rules most Protestants don't understand or agree with, and Keith is no exception. But he did promise me that he would get it done. So here we are, two years later with our five year anniversary fast approaching, and the annulment has not been completed. He hasn't even filled out all the paperwork. I have often wondered if maybe the stress of all the red tape involved was affecting his PD. I thought that maybe the act of sitting still long enough to do the paperwork would be too difficult for him. But no, that's not it at all. His only excuse for not getting the annulment is that because he's not Catholic, he doesn't really understand what the big deal is. Needless to say, I'm a little bummed. A far more accurate statement would be that I'm very hurt and deeply disappointed. This clearly falls into the Clueless Husband category.

2. This incident occurred just last night - Keith decided at 10:30 pm that he wanted to fry up some oysters. While I never grudge anyone their choice of late night snack, I did have a moment or two of "oh no!" when he broke out the frying pan. I had a feeling I would be stuck with all those dirty dishes, and I was right. When I woke up this morning there was a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, stinky leftovers in the trash and bits of food left on the stove. I was mad. My initial reaction was, "What the hell is wrong with him?! Why does he have to make such a huge meal that late and leave me the mess to clean up? **BLEEP, BLEEP, BLEEP** But I changed my tune once I thought about it a little more. After all, he did wash the dishes for me a few hours earlier in the evening. And fried oysters do take some time to make, which means Keith was standing in one spot cooking for a good twenty minutes. At one point I asked if I could help him, but when he said "yeah, you can cook these for me," I just laughed and walked away. I walked away, sat down and propped my feet up on the sofa, and watched t.v. So although my first reaction to this was Clueless Husband, I have to face reality and put this into the Struggling with PD file. (And I think I plunged head-first into the selfish wife category on this one).

3. One of the many things I have done to ensure that we all survive each day with our busy schedules is to assign chores. These are very specific chores that I need done around the house on certain days each week. It's nothing too difficult, mainly just a bit of dusting and wiping down the bathrooms. I was very picky when deciding upon Keith's chores because I wanted to make sure he could do them with ease. Monday, Wednesday and Friday he is to wipe down the bathroom with disinfectant wipes. Just go over the sink and the toilet - no big scrubbing or anything. On Tuesday dust the living room, and on Thursday vacuum the living room. All chores that can easily be accomplished in fifteen minutes or less, even with PD. After months of nothing getting done and feeling like a total jerk for even giving him chores to do, I finally asked what the problem was. "Why can't you at least dust? Everything is chest level, no lifting or bending, and the Swiffer has an extended handle to help you reach everything. What's the problem?" I asked. I got a blank stare. "I don't know how to dust," he said. WHAT?!?!? You walk around the room and wipe stuff down with a frilly, fluffy pad stuck to the end of a stick. How difficult can it possibly be? This, CLEARLY, is a Clueless Husband issue.

So you see, it isn't always easy to judge whether or not I'm dealing with Clueless Husband or Struggling with PD Husband. It's beginning to take a toll on me. I don't want to believe that Keith would use PD as an excuse to get out of housework, nor do I want to believe that simple, daily activities are becoming too difficult for him to handle. I have no idea how to respond either way. I feel guilty for asking him to help. If I don't ask for help, I feel like an unappreciated housewife. Where is the middle ground? Perhaps there is no middle ground. Maybe, due to the nature of the disease and its progression, life for us will always be a constant ebb and flow; a push and pull of inconsistencies, good intentions, wrong perceptions and failed attempts. The important thing is to remember that we are in this together and we are both learning as we go. Somewhere along the way we have learned to cut each other some slack, pick up where the other left off, and to forgive a life with PD.
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