A Good Man

Photograph by the author.
Photograph taken at Crescent Head, New South Wales by the author.

I was recovering from a broken heart, when a shy man entered my orbit. I was an extrovert, Tim was an introvert. Conversations were stilted, but there was something about this guy …

We soon discovered our mutual love of the ocean and immediately our conversations began to flow. We arranged a scuba dive. He was timid as he rubbed sunscreen on my back. Once in the water, we struggled to kick against the current, and he reached out and held my hand. They were sweet moments that I would fondly look back upon as our first date. We were married four months later; that was fifteen years ago.

We planned to have a child after five years of marriage. I wondered how he would cope as I’d never seen him show affection or even speak to a young child. I needn’t have worried as they bonded instantly; chatting as he changed her nappy, snuggling as they read stories and giggling as they built Lego towers and knocked them down again. As she grew, he bought board games that they would sit and play for hours, whilst talking about their favourite Marvel comic book characters.

Eventually, I wanted another baby. Tim was happy with our family of three yet I pleaded for a second child and he relented. Again, I wondered how he’d cope but he scooped up that gooey, bloody, newborn and she fell asleep in his arms, their hearts beating together. Sadly, our beautiful little girl had a problem and needed surgery. Our hearts broke and we cried together as we saw her eyes full of stitches and blood. Slowly, our hearts and her wound healed. Nine years have passed and she just bought herself a pink skateboard and Tim bought himself a black one. Their bodies mimic each other with arms splayed and facial expressions, a mix of concentration and joy; their hearts still beating together.

My husband is a man of contrasting emotions. He is the kindest, most gentle person I know. Every day he wraps his arms around me, kisses my hair and tells me he loves me. And his compassion and protectiveness are not limited to our family. Often as he reads me excerpts from books, his voice will crack … “the little girl lay in the rubble with a pink ribbon in her hair”. Yet his sorrow turns to rage and frustration over the injustice of a situation. His fire and passion lay a hair’s breadth beneath his gentle surface. He wants justice and protection for the innocent. I feel for him as this silent war rages within; kindness, compassion, anger, justice. He has an outlet for his gentle qualities—his family—but what about his rage? With no release, it’s trapped in him like a violent storm. At times, threats have been made towards him and his family. He immediately steps up to the plate, confronting the aggressor with equal (and perhaps more) force. These rare opportunities to express his primordial masculinity elate him.

As life scuttles beneath our feet, good times and bad times have circled around us. We’ve had money and lost money. We’ve been happy and balanced, then swallowed whole by crushing depression. We seem to take it in turns, see-sawing through the highs and lows, one up… one down … one down … one up, but we’re always there for each other.

Tim has an IQ that puts him in the ‘gifted’ category. I found this very intimidating for many years, but slowly I’ve come to appreciate his knowledge. We often discuss issues as we both wash up the dishes. I love our daily conversations, delving into the human psyche; two people exploring a cave with torches in their hands, each pointing out something different we’ve discovered.

We sometimes sneak down to the beach while the girls are at school. He’ll gently help me into my wetsuit, and then kiss my forehead as he straightens my dive mask. Oh, the tenderness. Then we descend into the vast blue water and Tim, my husband, my hero, will reach out and hold my hand, just as he has done every step of the way these past fifteen years.

This article was originally published as part of ABC Open Drum’s callout on Good Men.

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