Over the past few days, my partner’s made a few complaints about stomach pains. This morning, he told me he wasn’t feeling well, but that he’d crack on with the working day.
Now, I’ve always prided myself on being sensitive. The first few times he told me I made the expected sympathetic noises, and when he came home earlier this week looking really rough, I tried to make him comfortable. But at 7am this morning, groggy from an evening workout and getting ready to catch my train, I just didn’t have the capacity to be that caring boyfriend. I was pretty heartless about it, truth be told; the phrase ‘man up’ comes to mind (although I luckily didn’t step on that landmine).
I don’t know why – perhaps because he was moving about, wasn’t bed-ridden, looked ‘okay’ – I just wasn’t bothered. But it hurt him; I knew that immediately.
Now, all day I’ve been trying to puzzle out why I didn’t give him a hug, rub his belly and all that jazz. I would if he were, in my *imperfect* eyes, really ‘sick’. I don’t really get bugs. Vomiting, fevers and runny noses aren’t, thank God, much of a problem for me in life. On top of that, my own mother was pretty ruthless when it came to being unwell. Maybe this, combined with my own relatively inexperienced understanding, explains it? It would make sense, especially as my partner’s since explained that his mother took a comparatively coddling attitude to illness. I don’t know, but the point is, I was wrong.
Maybe I’m alone here (although I highly doubt it), but it seems that when dealing with friends, even strangers on the street, I smile more, gesticulate – polish the social silverware, so to speak. It’s probably natural, and I imagine somewhere in our psyches we want to ‘behave’ better around these people because they’re less likely to stick around; they’re exceptions to our daily routines.
But then there are the loved ones – the family and friends who are actually embedded in these routines. Of a morning, we might treat our lovers or mothers with as much meaningful interaction as the bathroom mirror. They’re taken for granted. They’re ‘easy’.
But, once again, this is a mistake I’m guilty of making, and it’s a pretty big one. The most important people in our lives deserve to be treated as more than furniture, but somehow we miss this fundamental rule. A person doesn’t have less heart or fewer sensitivities, just because we spend six hours a day with them. We need to make them feel loved as much as we would a new friend, or a child in the family. Otherwise… well, what are they doing? Tolerating us? Putting up with us? That’s no way to live.
It’s hard, true, but we need to keep that slightly worn sofa well-dusted. It’ll make us all happier, in the end.
I’m well aware of my targets from yesterday – I’m going to give myself a minimum of a week for each, meaning I have until next Wednesday!