Ready to Write

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My husband has been disabled for nine months. His first hip surgery
went great but the second was a disaster. Only now, four plus months
after, has he been finally released to do physical therapy. I surprised
him with a weekend away at a B&B in the country, but it depressed
him more than anything. He was acutely aware of everything he could
not do, which are all the things he used to love to do: hiking,
mushroom hunting, canoeing, etc. He’s not a reader or game player,
and living with him as been like being tethered outside the cage of a
pacing tiger. I feel the waves of frustration emanating from him with
enough force to power a small nuclear power plant. I’m a teacher and
need my summer to decompress. What’s fair in terms of together time
versus alone time for me to do those kinds of things with more able-
bodied friends or to get away and write? He is ambulatory and if he
doesn’t try anything stupid like getting on ladders or going into his
workshop he would be perfectly fine home alone for a weekend. I have
an idea for a series of young adult novels and summer is my only
chance to get a leg up on trying this. I don’t want to feel like I am
abandoning him, but the past few years have seemed all about him.
When’s my turn?

Ready to Write

Dear Ready:

You shouldn’t just walk off with your laptop and wave goodbye. All
marriages are negotiations, and tougher times bring about harder
conversations. But yes you have the right to claim some of your time,
both at home and away. Both of you need to know he’ll be safe while
your attention is elsewhere. And he can diversify the people he spends
time with so you don’t feel chained to the cage.

Start at home after coming to some agreements about time. Say you
get three mornings a week and two afternoons. Or whatever works in
the schedule of PT appointments, gardening, and house chores. Agree
on the time that’s dedicated to undisturbed writing. He commits to not
interrupting you with the normal vagaries of life, and also to occupying
himself in ways that do not promote trips to the emergency room. You
commit to quality time together afterwards. Try it for two weeks and
refine the plan as needed. Work up to a weekend away, perhaps with
him having buddy time with friends for big pieces of it, so he doesn’t
get lonely and decide to do something risky. Before you leave get the
agreements on paper. Yes it sounds silly but might be enough to keep
him from climbing a ladder. Try it once. If it works, do it again. I’d
caution about asking him to read your early writing because he may
treat your laptop like a rival. Eventually it would be good to share, but
glide into it. He’ll be more fun again eventually.