Calmness and Capability

Last spring, J and I began with a date night, and we followed that up with a lot of work, like we did this past weekend, so I thought I’d write about J and how he handles the out-of-nowhere type of shit life throws at us sometimes.
Last spring, I did all the spring cleaning, and he did some vehicle and exterior maintenance. (He put solar panels on our backyard shed for electric, and well…let’s just say that kind of thing works for me. Haha!)

After that, while I mostly got to relax other than routine cooking and straightening up, J continued working. An unexpected problem arose with our most recent vehicle purchased. I know it upset him. But rather than screaming with anger or lashing out or slamming doors or lamenting that the sky is falling, he just calmly assessed the problem and the possible solutions and started making a plan. Which he could fully execute himself. With maybe some minor assistance (like ‘hold this’ or ‘hand me this’) from me. 

Last summer, when we took the motorhome on an almost-totally-cross-country trip, we arrived in Southern California…almost all the way to the ocean, which is over 2000 miles from our home, an important functional part of the motorhome that ran our refrigerator while we drove malfunctioned. We were the farthest from home we could possibly be and we HAVE to have refrigeration in the motorhome. J just…handled it. He knew what part needed to be replaced. He found a place to get the part and even found a way to get the cost waived because of warranty and replaced it. It didn’t really interrupt any of our vacation. Sure, he said ONE swear word when the part actually first broke, but after that? Steady as a rock.

I’ve heard people say that this type of behavior should be expected and not celebrated. That being calm and considerate and careful is the bare minimum for decent human behavior, and they don’t deserve applause. But in my personal experience, J’s measured responses to surprising disappointment and difficulty and understandable frustration and annoyance are *rare.* Exceptionally rare. And I think they’re worthy of celebration. 

My life before J was spent with people who raise their voices over the location of your shoes in relation to the front door. When something like a pipe bursting in a wall would happen, they would seriously suggest calling 911, and anticipate out loud filing for bankruptcy once the plumber sends the bill.

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I can only imagine how my parents would have reacted to the motorhome situation. It would have definitely been negative and in the extreme and it would have no doubt ruined the trip. It would have been the focal point of the trip they chose to bring up, and would consistently repeat, because of the hardship and ‘wrongness.’ Their constant concentration on and exaggeration of the negative I’m sure has informed my anxiety to a significant degree. So when J faces the unplanned and problematic with calmness and capability, it’s extremely comforting. 

I am so grateful to be his wife every day. His calmness and capability make the problems we face seem small and easily managed, when I was always so used to each inconvenience being treated like a tragedy. Maybe it shouldn’t be ‘goals,’ or whatever. Maybe it should be expected. But in the reality I’ve always lived in? It’s rare and precious.

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