I developed a chronic illness in 2002 (before I met my spouse) and by 2006, well before we married, I finally dropped out of the rat race. Ostensibly, to pursue my writing – Mike has always fervently believed in my ability as a writer, and while it caused some hardship, was able to support me as I began. The years have gone on, and growth has happened as does when two people combine their resources for as long as they have, but most of the time including in recent weeks, I think of myself as living on Mike’s money, and even though I’m his wife, I’m living in Mike’s house. Mike has worked hard to get my out of this thought pattern: he’s not one of those guys who turns his woman/partner into (shudder) a wife. We’ve even joked that neither of us can bring themselves to use the word “Mrs.” in connection to my name, which is just as well since I’ll pull my own teeth out before I change that surname.
I began thinking about my history with Mike, and how things were when we first met. Yes, I was in debt recovery after a poorly executed divorce, and my illness made job retention very difficult for me. At the same time, I was absolutely an equal partner and sometimes covered certain things for Mike. When we met he was in the early part of his grad student days, and was living on ramen and Guinness (with some vitamin C thrown in, I hope.) Mike’s current level of comfort would not have been possible without me. I brought in skills he didn’t have, and when I did begin working from home full time/working for myself, I found ways to contribute even if it was just buying TV trays or a new set of glasses. My presence made things just a bit less hand-to-mouth, and I finally recognized: we would not be where we are now without my early contribution.