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What Makes a Good Wife

When her husband got sick, this writer could no longer be the reluctant caregiver

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  • Fredrik Nyman/Getty Images

    I am a good wife. My husband told me this the other day, in the half-joking manner we use to compliment each other sincerely. It was nice to have my talents recognized, but he and I both know—I have limitations. I don't put away groceries. I don't fold laundry. I'm close friends with men, whom my husband jokingly calls my "other husbands." It is impossible to help me, meaning that I may occasionally require help but will never accept it.

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    My most notable shortcoming, however, is this: I am a resentful nurse with an antagonistic bedside manner. When my husband is sick or hurt, it actually makes me kind of angry. Early in our relationship, he noticed that whenever he caught a cold, I became emotionally distant. I went through the caretaking motions, but I was chilly about it. This dysfunction remained unchallenged, explained away as a bad mood (that just happened to coincide with his moments of physical weakness), until a more serious caretaking failure brought the issue to a head.

What Makes a Good Wife
When her husband got sick, this writer could no longer be the reluctant caregiver
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