Helena Madsen of Chronic Marriage was kind enough to share with me a guest post she wrote titled, “How are you doing reconciling illness, work and marriage? over on Rosalind Joffe’s site, “Working With Chronic Illness.” The timing of the article felt serendipitous, as just last Wednesday I had an epiphany regarding my relationship, my lack of full-time employment, and my…bitterness. I was in a counseling appointment, and to make a long story short, I realized out loud that it’s not Christopher’s fault that I’m financially dependent on him (he pays all of the…what’s it called…oh yeah, RENT) and that my deep-seated resentment of my circumstances tends to get directed towards him in an I-am-so-angry-that-my-contribution-is-housework-and-you-get-to-work kinda way.
I’m not resentful of the arrangement itself, it’s a smart, practical arrangement because housework allows for naps, stretching, heating pad breaks, and not having to drive (because we all know there’s moments where it’s safe to fold laundry but so not safe to get behind the wheel of what could be a dangerous weapon). So it’s not the arrangement, it’s that I feel very limited, which in turn makes me feel trapped, which in turn makes me feel panicked and angry and embarrassed. And I worry all the time that he thinks I’m lazy and that he doesn’t think housework is at all comparable to paying rent.
He’s such a generous man that when I try to discuss what I see as our arrangement, he says things like, “Whatever! I don’t care about the money.” The problem is, I do care about the money, about my lack of half the rent. I do care that I can’t use my graduate degree and be able to hire a nice cleaning agency to clean the bathroom and dust all the dusty things in my house. But there’s “caring” about things, and there’s not letting go of things as a form of pouting and being a victim. And that, folks, is where my faults lie.