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Barton Goldsmith: Waiting for backup

Barton Goldsmith, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

We've all seen the cop movies. The situation is tense, the fate of the free world hangs in the balance, and instead of waiting for backup (as called for by the commanding officer), the hero plunges in headfirst to save the day.

In my case, it wasn't so dramatic. I had to carry a 50-pound bag of kitty litter upstairs, and I just wanted to get it done. So, instead of asking for help, I cleared a path, bent my knees, and lifted and hauled the always awkward, oversized bag up two flights of stairs and into the bathroom on my own. I must have been channeling the Russian weightlifter I saw on YouTube. Nothing broke, but I did get cut somehow and didn't even feel it happening.

At that point, everything came to a halt, because you don't want to be cleaning a litter box when your wrist is bleeding profusely. I did call for my wife, so I wouldn't bleed all over the bathroom, and we patched me up while she finished the job. Needless to say, my feeling of physical prowess regressed rather rapidly into the grumblings of the world's worst handyman.

My wife didn't have to chastise me. I already knew that I'd overstepped my physical limits, and it could have been much worse. The woman I married is always there to help me, but I had also thought, like many guys have thought before their trip to the emergency room, "I can lift that myself." Well, it may have been true a decade ago, but now I have to get better at waiting for backup. Although we share the same haircut and love of classic rock, I am no Bruce Willis -- in or out of a "Die Hard" movie.

Many of you may have had the same experience. You got impatient (or inspired) and decided not to wait or even ask for help, and you ended up getting hurt, breaking something you were trying to fix, or both. Here are a couple of reasons why waiting is better than doing something by yourself that might cause some damage.

Number one, it's about self-care and being aware enough to see that you could use an extra pair of hands. And number two, life is easier and nicer when you are able to share the burdens of daily living with someone who cares, helps, and makes you laugh in the process. My wife and I always kid around when we do housework together -- we don't enjoy the work itself, but we enjoy doing it together.

 

Here's one more thought. You don't need to do something as soon as you think of doing it. I like getting unpleasant jobs done first thing, and as my wife isn't a morning person, I thought I was doing a good deed the other day. After the emergency ended, and I retreated to the safety of my laptop, I realized that I could have just waited. Patience, for many reasons, has now become a bigger part of all of our lifelong learning plans.

(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.)

(c)2020 Barton Goldsmith

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