Dear Reader –
We’re having trouble with our cable service.
I figured this particular brand of cable was just naturally kind of crappy cable service, and that’s just how that company rolls in this neck of the woods, since it’s, well, a monopoly.
But then, when one of our bundled services started blitzing out at random and unpredictable times we bit the bullet and called for a repair man – not without – of course – going through all the normal “troubleshooting” measures of unplugging this, tightening that, waiting ten seconds for this, then 15 minutes for that. We did that twice with two different telephone agents, and – of course – received conflicting information from both.
So upon arrival, the cable man said he needed to see the main hub where all the cables in the house originate.
“Hmm,” I thought. “I don’t like where this is going. . . . ”
Because, Dear Readers, the “main hub” – if that is in fact the technical term, is in a downright tricky spot.
“Are you sure?” I asked him. “Is it maybe that one right behind the TV, right here, conveniently located in the living room where most people in America would probably choose to place their primary TV?”
“No ma’am. That’s not it. It’s a cable that’s got other cables coming out of it. It’s where the main cable comes into the house.”
This was unfortunate. I had a hunch where this cable was located, and it wasn’t good.
“Huh,” I said, “I guess maybe it’s up in the attic.”
But guys – our attic isn’t really an attic, per se.
It’s a crawl space above the garage that’s been packed full of all our random once-a-year boxes (Christmas decor, other random holiday decor, stored hand-me-down clothes) and all the things we don’t really use but couldn’t bear to part with or thought might be necessary in the future (baby toys, a high chair, closet doors (don’t ask)). And if he was going up there, well. It was going to be at his own risk.
So, I showed him where the hatch was, warned him he probably wouldn’t be able to get to the cord, and wished him luck. ( I might have snort-laughed on my way out.)
He found it, alright.
But he couldn’t reach it.
We needed to move mountains of boxes for him to get to it.
And by “we”, I mean my husband.
So I scheduled a return appointment with this same cable guy, one week later so we’d have time to shuffle around the designated boxes.
And of course, we waited till the night before.
Last night was the night, friends.
We’d been talking about it since Saturday, but you know. Why do what you can do today if you can put it off till the last possible second? (This is, unfortunately, a motto by which I tend to live.)
So, thankfully, my hubs got home a little early last night.
I asked him if he was going to move the boxes – which, let me tell you if it’s not clear yet – is a truly pain in the buttocks job.
I knew he was dreading it, and I don’t blame him. I was suffering empathy dread for him.
So he put it off a little longer. And longer. And longer.
Finally, we tucked the kids in and the house was settling in for the night.
“Babe,” I said, “Are you going to move the boxes?” (We don’t actually call each other “Babe”, but that would be better than what we do actually call each other so that’s what I’ll use here.)
“Yes, Sugar Lump. (again – not what he really calls me, but equally ridiculous to what our actual pet names are) I’m going to move the boxes. I’m going to make a life-giving decision and move the boxes for you.”
The life-giving decision, you see, is something we learned about way back in pre-marital counseling. For more than 16 years now, “life-giving” has been in our spousal lingo, and whenever one of us says it, it stops us in our tracks for a minute because we recognize what’s going on.
This might be the only thing either of us remembers clearly from that weekend retreat. Neither one of us can remember what the opposite of life-giving was, so we call it life-sucking. (It’s fun to say, and it drives the point home.)
This is the bottom line: Every day in a relationship, you have to choose whether you want to give life to it or suck life out of it. This is especially true in a marriage relationship.
Because we are both adults, sometimes it’s easy to figure the other person can fend for themselves, – because they are a grown up, for crying out loud, and capable. “Why should I do that for you?” we might think (whatever that happens to be. You fill in the details).
But the why is because you love them, and because you love them, you choose to feed the relationship with life, not suck the living daylights out of it.
He was making the choice to do something I asked him to do not because he wanted to or it was easy or convenient. He would do it simply as an act of love (and deep down, he might have wanted cable back too. . . .)
I admit – I feel like he does this better and more often than I do. I feel like choosing to love selflessly is harder for me, it takes me more effort to get over the hump of “I don’t want to”. Being aware of this though, makes it easier for me to appreciate when he makes that choice for me.
So yes, Babe. Thank you for real. Thank you for moving those boxes for me, but mostly, thanks for breathing life into our marriage instead of sucking it out.