In Sickness and in Health

The devoted spouse gets almost no attention

The common cold doesn’t get much attention. Neither does the devoted spouse.

Each operates behind the scenes, behind the headlines, where few people (except in the land of Hallmark Cards, maybe) acknowledge or articulate the power these two entities can have, in different ways.

Hit with a nasty cold recently, I was struck this time more than others by how my husband toiled away in the house to make sure I had everything I needed.

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Most people don’t make a fuss about this unheralded effort. You’ll never see splashed on Facebook or across the tabloids, for example, “Husband Takes Care of Wife!”

This is not about reverse stereotypes, either. As spouses, we take care of each other because it is natural and expected and what we have done for so long. It’s the bedrock of many a marriage.

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But maybe now and then just a little attention can be paid to those who help loved ones and never get accolades for it — not that they would want any. They do what they do because it’s right — like so many other Americans who in so many ways go about their business quietly, with dignity, honor and utter reliability.

So this guy made my favorite butternut squash soup for me when I was sick. And it wasn’t out of a can.

However long he spent making that soup, it was more hours than I’ve cooked in the past month, maybe in the past year.

He picked the butternut squash from our garden, which he himself planted and tended all summer. He chopped it, cooked it on the stove, made the soup from his own recipe, and served it piping hot, spiced just right.

He added a bit of fried pancetta with onions and garlic, for crunch and flavor, and then scallions, for a little more flavor.

He also put out my favorite croutons, in case I wanted them. (I did. Just a few.)

I don’t know how long it took him to make this soup, since my attentions are usually not focused on the kitchen. But however long he spent on it, believe me it was more hours than I’ve cooked in the past month, maybe in the past year.

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The soup was so delicious and soothing, I had it for three days in a row. (He made enough to last. Smart!)

He made me coffee every morning when I was sick, although he tends to do that each morning anyway.

He fed our dog and two cats every morning and took the dog out for a walk.

He took out the garbage, then put the cans away promptly when they were empty.

He made a hot breakfast of eggs and toast for our high school-aged son, just because.

He got up with me early for work, as he always has, even at 4:30 a.m. when I sometimes catch a cab to the train.

He did all the food shopping, though he usually does that, too! (As the cook in our house, he knows what he wants to buy, cook and serve, so he normally takes the lead on this.)

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Sick or well, I never take any of this for granted because I know it is a rare and beautiful thing.

He also answered the phone when several salespeople called with one vacuous offer after another. And he tried not to interrupt me over the weekend when I was napping. He knew I needed the rest.

I could go on, but one, I don’t want to embarrass him, and two, by now the verdict is probably more than clear.

The man is a keeper!

That awful cold, not so much.

meet the author

Maureen Mackey served as editor-in-chief and managing editor of LifeZette for nearly five years. Before that, she held senior editorial positions at major publications, helping The Fiscal Times win a MIN Award for Best New Site as managing editor and Reader's Digest win an American Society of Magazine Editors Award for General Excellence as book editor. Her work has appeared in Real Clear Politics, CNBC, A Fine Line, AARP Magazine, Yahoo Finance, MSN, Business Insider, and The Week, among other outlets. She is a member of the Newswomen's Club of New York and the American Legion Auxiliary.

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