I know I have not been posting as often as usual, but this moving thing is sucking up my life. And giving me new insights into my life with Ralph.
First there are the practical mechanics. And the financial mechanics. And the physical mechanics.
Then there are the emotional mechanics, which are not mechanics at all, but underlying realities.
So about the mechanics—whatever problems our marriage had, and there were plenty—I was spoiled for over forty years when it came to mechanics. Practically speaking, Ralph was the one who made decisions about what we needed as homeowners; he dealt with contractors and service people because he understood their language and knew how to do the jobs himself while I didn’t. In fact, physically, I was an inept moron. Ralph did not trust me to do much more than change a light bulb. I have to admit here that I didn’t try very hard to win his trust, preferring to let him take charge. Financially I was not inept, but although I did balance checkbooks and do much of the bookkeeping, Ralph did the heavy lifting when it came to making financial decisions like dealing with our accountant on long term planning, deciding what price to take on selling or buying real estate, choosing insurance plans.
Now all practical matters are in my hands. For better worse, Ralph trusts me completely to make decisions. He doesn’t do physical chores, although he is happy to carry boxes I’ve filled to the car, a fact I am extremely grateful for especially since he never complains the way he might have in the past. He has no interest in dealing with contractors or service people or even lawyers and accountants. He asks how things are going but doesn’t want to hear if there are problems. And I have talked here before about his lack of interest in financial issues.
None of this is new but the stakes are higher, the decision-making and activity more intense. I am making choices for his well being but also my own. I am elated at moments when I see how much I am accomplishing on my own and I am fearful and resentful at how much I am doing alone without someone to share doubts and fears with.
So to be honest, I am proud how competent I have proven in navigating the business end of things (although since the farm is only under contract at this point, I don’t want to jinx myself there). There was a whirlwind of the kind of negotiations and quick responses Ralph always relished; while he’d ask my opinions as a kind of devil’s advocate, he was the decider. Now I make the decisions and so far, they have been working well. I also seem to do fine working with contractors and service people. I admit my ignorance but I ask questions. So far no one has cheated me; if anything they’ve gone out of their way to be helpful. Not only am I proud of myself. Ralph is proud of me too.
Of course he has no clue that there have been snags and problems along the way. He doesn’t want to take on the devil’s advocate role he used to hand me. And I have learned I should not discuss my own doubts with him. Whenever I do slip up and talk openly out of the need to think things through out loud, his anxiety sends him into the loop of repetitious thinking and questions that drive me crazy. Better to say all is going well, even when it maybe isn’t.
The result is that I don’t have a partner with whom to share my own anxieties while I am managing his anxieties too. I am pretty much on my own. But I know plenty of folks who are living alone and manage on their own just fine. It’s only a big deal for me now because I had different expectations. And frankly I am getting use to my new normal. While I often still feel scared or lonely, it is not all bad. I have grown in ways I might not have expected at this point in my life.
Also it’s a relief that I now live with someone who won’t mind if the wallpaper I splurged on for the powder room is more flowery and girlish than Ralph would ever have allowed. But then again, what if it’s hideous once it’s up and I have no one else to blame but myself.