I fell in the pool recently while we were wrangling with the tarp that covers it. (It’s an old house we own but don’t live in currently, so the pool is covered for now.) When I hit the tarp flat on my back, it wrapped around my feet and I started to slowly sink into the deep waters. My anxious husband was speechless and fretting on the pool’s edge. He looked poised to jump in the pool too, but that would have been disastrous for him to be flailing around on the tarp, getting tangled with me, maybe drowning us both. When I gasped for help and asked for him to grab me, he took my arm and held me up along the pool’s edge while I inched toward the shallow end to get out.
When. I. Asked.
Not only did I have to ask, I had to tell him what to do to help me. And he moved so slowly, despite the fact that I was weak and tired and afraid. He couldn’t figure out how to hold onto me AND inch down the side of the pool while I moved to safety. I had to give him instruction every step of the way, fighting my own mild panic.
Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t think he wanted me to drown. It’s just depressing to think that the man I’m married to has so little decision-making ability that he didn’t think of (1) tugging on the tarp to pull me near him, (2) getting the long-handled skimmer and extending it to me so I had something to grab onto, or (3) telling me to hang onto the pool’s side while he ripped the tarp from that side of the pool. Nope. I had to think of it. As he held onto my right hand, I used the left to tug the tarp into the water so I could creep further down the side until I could stand up. Then he didn’t know how to help me get out of the pool until I told him to put a nearby cinder block in the water so I could step up on it.
He didn’t comfort me afterward, even though I was shaking. And he didn’t hurry to finish the rest of the work we were doing, despite how soaked I was. I wanted to scream.
He’s a smart man. But I can’t make him think quickly or creatively, and he doesn’t do so. I can’t hope he will change. I will always have to be the decision-maker and the action-initiator in this marriage.
Later, when we were trying to do some work under the tarp (placing pool pillows under it to keep the tarp from sagging), I was holding up the edge of the heavy tarp while he crawled beneath it and poked at the big pool pillows to arrange them. The tarp slipped and I was exhausted so I told him to hang on or crawl out while I caught my breath before I picked it up again. He was under it for 5-10 seconds. Just lying there still. I wonder if he would have suffocated if I hadn’t kept calling out his name and yanking on the tarp in alarm. He is so very, very passive.
This is very discouraging.
Several years ago, before smart phones with GPS were so commonly owned, I was out at some late-night event and got lost in a sketchy part of the nearest big city when I tried to head home. There didn’t seem to be any safe, well-lit place to pull over and puzzle out my location and the directions. I’m bad with directions anyway and kept driving in circles, apparently. In frustration, I called my husband to ask him for help. He didn’t recognize any of the street signs I called out to him, and it takes him forever to look things up online, so I finally gave up on him in irritation, muttering to myself as I hung up, “OMG, you’re more useless than tits on a bull.”
Mmm. He actually heard that, and it hurt his feelings. I’m sorry about that. I don’t mean to hurt his feelings by being so disappointed in him, then or now. But how do I let go of my exasperation with him? Or should I honor that feeling and let him go?
Neither option seems possible. I’m trying to see what other choices I have. I can’t make him change. I have not yet been able (or willing?) to change myself. And this sucks.