My husband is an overachiever…and that’s an understatement. When he worked at UAB as the facilities manager of the Alys Stephens Center for the Performing Arts, he was chosen Employee of the Year out of 18,000 employees. He is doing the same work in his position at the Dorothy Jemiaon Day Theater at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. He has always done everything he could to be the best at whatever challenge he takes on…sometimes at great cost to himself.
I have seen him fraying at the edges this summer (one year and seven months before he retires and becomes my cabana boy, as we joke). He scheduled way too many shows, giving him virtually no down time to recharge. He is stressed, exhausted from what are often fifteen-hour days, and he’s experiencing a host of physical ailments from the years of hard work, too (another knee surgery coming up from years of lifting heavy sound equipment, an impinged shoulder from heavy lifting which is impacting the yoga he loves to teach, severe neck pain from arthritis…). He pushes ahead no matter what with a smile to the world, but I see the effects at home, and my heart hurts for this stubborn and driven man.
I am a lot like Dan in the driven department, but I finally learned the importance of making time to recharge. If I don’t, I’m no good to anyone…which I learned the hard way. I tried to preach this sermon to my husband, but he still feels compelled to power through it all. And so, I’ve gone to drastic measures- kidnapping. I have scheduled a beach trip in September to give him something to look forward to (me, too), and am finding pockets of time to steal him away for a quick recharge- sometimes just a simple “date night” on the sun porch or top deck with the pups, sometimes something more formal.
I found out that he didn’t have to be at the theater last night, so I invited him to go try a new restaurant that we’d wanted to visit, just minutes from our home. We sat at the bar- we love to sit and watch people- and enjoyed some wine, appetizers, and great conversation. I saw him begin to let go and relax, and my heart smiled. Even if for only an evening, I was so happy to get him away from the stress of a new show every week. He loves what he does, but he is also human…we both forget that sometimes. I am hoping that in these last months before he retires and focuses on his loves yoga and massage that he will allow himself to do less (his ‘less’ is still too much). He will be happier if he does that…and so will his wife.
For better, for worse, for kidnapping. I’ll do whatever I can to help this man who stole my heart twelve years ago. He does the same for me when I forget to look after my needs for rest and recharging. That’s what marriage is all about- a balancing of each other, and constant love and support no matter the circumstances. He has shown that to me so many times in so many ways, and now it’s my turn. I will always have his back.