Men, Take Care of Yourselves

Sherry McGuinn

Or be prepared to pay the price.

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I’m very angry right now and I need to calm down as I don’t want this to come off as a rant.

(Pause for deep, cleansing breaths.)

Okay. Now I can speak from the heart.

My husband and I have been married for close to thirty-five years. For too many of those years to count, I have implored him to take better care of himself.

I’ve asked him to eat a little better and move a little more. Never have I demanded that he run a 10k or immerse himself in Crossfit or any of that shit.

“Just move a little more for Christ’s sake.”

With that said, to the best of my recollection, and it’s pretty damned sharp, I have never known my husband to engage in regular exercise of any form. Never.

When I met him, and he was working as a bartender, he played in the occasional softball game but that was it.

Always a meat and potatoes kind of guy, he could put away a bread basket at a restaurant in record time. I’d watch him buttering a third or fourth slice of bread while I struggled to swallow my own without berating him.

Hardly a saint, I was a more robust eater back then, myself. But I’ve done a complete 360. I am careful about what I eat and work out daily. At 5'6", I toggle between 130 and 135 pounds.

No one said it was easy, and it’s not. There are days when I’d like to dive headfirst into a plate of pasta and never look back, but I think of the consequences. I think about the fact that I want to be around for as long as I can, and that stops me.

And, health aside, I like to look good. I want to feel sexy. But for whom am I trying to be sexy? Myself, I guess. And maybe that’s enough.

I mentioned “berate,” and berate my husband I have. I’ve also nagged, and begged and reasoned and implored and said everything a loving wife can possibly say to save her man.

I’ve asked him what he thinks would happen to me and our three cats should he drop dead of a heart attack.

He’s employed, I am not. Where would we go? Most likely, I’d have to sell our home and find another place to live. But where? Who is going to rent to an unemployed woman in her 60s with three cats?

We’d be screwed.

My husband nods and says he understands and that he’ll do better and I used to believe him. But, no longer. Nothing ever changes.

I’ve even threatened to leave him. But I know I can’t as he could never handle it. And I love him. But I’m getting weary.

High blood pressure. High cholesterol. A-Fib. Sleep Apnea. Chronic insomnia. Gout. A shit-ton of extra pounds. You name it. He’s got it. And all the attendant meds that go along with these conditions.

Are they expensive? Hell, yeah. Some of them, anyway. Outrageously so. Even with Medicare and a supplement.

Am I resentful? Hell, yeah. It eats away at me like maggots on carrion. And then I feel horribly guilty. Like I’ll be “punished” by a higher power if I think bad thoughts. That’s what OCD, which I suffer from, does to a person. It fucks you up. You’re afraid to be honest, even to yourself.

I’ve tried everything. There’s a stationary bike in his office on the main floor of our home. I’ve given him hand weights, Tai-Chi DVDs, etc. I’ve begged him to go for walks with me but he “doesn’t like walking outside.” Nor is it easy for him to walk any distance, at all, now.

The irony is, that my husband no longer eats much at all, but he’s so sedentary that the weight hangs on, regardless.

Some days, I just want to run away. My husband works from home four days a week so we’re home together a lot. I spend most of my time in my office area of our finished basement, banging out stories like this. Well, not exactly like this as I’ve tried my best to refrain from spouse-bashing.

But today is different. Today, I just have to let it out. Spew here, so I don’t go nuts on him. He’s already stressed to the max. He understands what he’s done to himself. But he doesn’t understand why, and that’s the root of the problem.

The only doctor he doesn’t have is a competent psychologist. I’m trying to find one, but it’s difficult. And I need someone to talk to, as well, as I’m afraid I’m going to explode one day. Drink too much. Accidentally harm myself.

Admittedly, I am volatile like that, but I don’t know where to turn.

Naturally, as with any couple, some days are better than others. But this isn’t one of them. Today, I need to speak my peace. Get it out.

Men, and you women, as well — if you have a partner you love, prove it by taking care of your health. I can’t tell you how many times my husband says he loves me. And that’s wonderful. Some people never hear that.

But I need more. I need some concrete proof.

“Show me, babe. Show me that you love me by acting like you want to live.”

Please. I love you. And I’m afraid.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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Chicago, IL
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