I am not saying that Sunday was talking craziness most of the time, but she wasn’t communicating like the woman who went into the hospital. I had read about issues like “post-partum depression” or the “baby blues” when I found out we were pregnant, but I am certainly not qualified to diagnose any of those situations. I just knew that I needed to offer Sunday a little more grace when I listened to her. I couldn’t depend on getting a consistent emotional state when I woke her up in the morning, nor could I rely on a cheery hello when I returned from school in the afternoon. She wasn’t going to give those things, at least not when I expected them.
So, I decided that some of the decisions that we usually shared would fall to me, which presented a major problem. From the beginning of our marriage, we have made it a point not to tell each other what to do. We’ve both discovered we’re stubborn, and we’ve also found out we are very disobedient to those who try to tell us what to do.
So we don’t do it.
We talk, we ask, we even bribe.
We never command or demand.
When Sunday came home from the hospital, she was not a person with whom I could consistently discuss daily decisions.
So I made some decisions on my own.
Decision #1: What to eat? Yes, she couldn’t handle this one from time to time, especially in the first few weeks. Food reminded her of feeding Jonah and Jonah reminded her of the hospital and the hospital reminded her of the painful delivery and the painful delivery reminded her of flying in airplanes and flying in airplanes reminded her of bad food, which she didn’t want to think about. (Her thought processes were interrupted somewhat by the insane amount of time breastfeeding takes). While we had major help from our friends—free food—there were times when I had to step up, make the decision, and create our meals. (Thank you, mother, for teaching me to cook. It saved our marriage.)
Decision #2: Should I go out? This issue was a tad more sensitive than the eating thing. After Jonah was born, Sunday felt like doing two things: sleeping and sitting in the dark, watching movies. Nope, doesn’t sound too exciting. (Notice that feeding Jonah wasn’t part of those two things?) She was struggling, and it didn’t take a genius to figure that she needed a change of the very dark scenery. At first, going out meant stepping out of the apartment to go to the mailbox. Then, we transitioned to a quick grocery store trip, then to the mall, and then, finally, to the movies. She didn’t perk up automatically, nor did she want to take those trips. But I figured I could risk “telling her what to do” in a nice way.
Decision #3: Do we get visitors? For some reason that Sunday still can’t articulate, talking to people outside her immediate family drained her more than she could express. Our Sunday School class was full of caring, giving people who wanted to help by providing food. I welcomed the tasty food which came to our door, free of charge. (I still get a little emotional when I think of the Chicken Pot Pie made by one couple. It was tremendous). For Sunday, the visitors—who are our friends and who are normally welcome in our home—became an insurmountable burden she couldn’t bear for more than fifteen minutes at a time. I am glad that our friends from church respected Sunday’s feelings, as good friends do.
She couldn’t explain her emotions, and I couldn’t understand them. I just had to make decisions, choices that forced me to straddle the line between the respect for my wife and our shared vision for our family.
And I tried not to tell her what to do.