As a writer, I don’t pen many jokes about marriage or my relationship with my husband. It’s not because I don’t find humor in those kinds of jokes. I do. I understand that spousal and co-parenting relationships can be complex and at times hilariously maddening.
For example, today as I walked through the house picking up after my kids, I came upon this pair of blue scrubs draped over the downstairs banister. For a moment I felt irritated, annoyed that my husband hadn’t taken them to the laundry room.
But then I remembered why they were there.
I thought back to yesterday when my husband had returned home from a long day at the hospital. His eighth day in a row on 24-hour call, he worked a typical on-call day. He had left the house around 6 a.m. After a busy day in the Neuro ICU, he arrived home on the earlier side—around 5 p.m.
As he entered the house, he continued taking calls from the hospital. While he did that, he helped make dinner and juggle the kids. We ate dinner, played with the kids, and got them ready for bed. His work phone continued ringing and he continued answering since he was the physician on call.
It didn’t end there, though.
At around 8 p.m., about an hour after we got the twins settled into bed, instead of settling in for the night, he got the call that he had to head back to the hospital to handle several admissions. So, for the second time that day, he got dressed and headed into work. He put on a fresh pair of blue scrubs and kissed me and our still-awake 4-year-old goodbye.
Eventually, my son and I went to bed. Around midnight, I woke up and looked over. My husband was still not home yet. I texted to check on him, worrying the way one does during those late, weary hours. He replied that he was still slammed, but he hoped to be home soon.
I slept the kind of restless sleep you sleep when part of your heart isn’t home safe with you.
Then around 2 a.m., I heard the telltale rustling that let me know my husband was home. He went to sleep and I did, too, relieved. Then he slept a few hours and got up early to do it all again.
I did, too, and that’s when I came upon the blue scrubs on the railing. The blue scrubs he had taken off at 2 a.m. after working nonstop around the clock for days on end both as a parent and a physician.
And in that moment, I gave grace—the same grace he’s given to me throughout our relationship.
That’s what makes sharing snapshots of a relationship so complicated. I could joke about finding my husband’s scrubs on the stairs, but you wouldn’t know the full story. You wouldn’t know that he took those scrubs off at two in the morning, long days running into each other.
You wouldn’t know the constant effort he gives to our family not just at work, but at home, too.
You wouldn’t know he was the one who actually built that railing and banister, sketching out the design, gathering the materials, and forging it with his own hands in the dead of night a few years ago.
You wouldn’t know that on the flip side of these long weeks on call are long weeks he has totally off from work at home with our family.
You wouldn’t know that he worked hard to find a career path in medicine that would give him more time for our family.
Relationships are complex.
It’s important to maintain open lines of communication, to share kindness, and to share grace. My husband has supported me in every aspect of my life—in our marriage, in my career, and throughout parenthood.
Every relationship has a different dynamic. There are some relationships that are truly unhappy, and there are a lot of narratives that reflect that truth. However, even in the happiest of unions, each partner has different strengths. I’m grateful for my partner—scrubs on the banister and all.
A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page
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