By Shauntae Hinkle-Lymas
In two weeks, my husband will be an official college student, and I couldn’t be happier. But I have to admit that it took me more than 3 years to convince him to go back to school to get his education. The reason why it took so long? He was afraid of college.
Yeah, you read it right. He was scared to death of going back to school beyond high school. At first I thought this was all a joke. I mean, he’s a grown man, for crying out loud! But lo and behold, I discovered that the thought of going back to school after being laid off of his job made him really nervous. But I never would have found that out if I didn’t stick in there with him.
Trust me, I was ready to throw in the towel on our marriage a couple of times. It angered me that this man had to be coaxed into going back to school (or so it seemed). I had no clue that this was a real, clinical fear of his. He really needed counseling, and nothing hurts more to see the man you love with fears so deep that it stifles their growth.
But I finally convinced him. And after (almost literally) dragging Timothy to the school’s college administration building for scholarships, enrollment, and financial aid information, he stopped himself in the middle of the parking lot and started shaking his head.
“I could have been in school a long time ago,” he said under his breath.
I rolled my eyes in my head. But that’s when he began to pull away layers of himself and his fears. He told me things I never realized scared him to his core. Like him being nervous about being able to keep up with other young people in his class (something he’s always had trouble with). He also told me about him being overlooked for help when he needed it most, by both his mother and his teachers.
Even after he told me, I was still thinking to myself, “Well buck up and get over it, dog.” But I had to come to realize that sometimes our spouses aren’t strong enough to take the first step. That’s when you have to hold their hands and take the first step with them.
And that’s what I did. I filled out all of his financial aid paperwork, his admissions forms, and I am currently helping him sort through scholarship stuff. At first I felt stupid and embarrassed doing it. I could hear my best friend in my ear telling me how he should be able to get up on his own if he really wants to meet his goals. And that’s the kind of talk that I hear my friends and family tell me all the time. “I don’t have time to teach my man what his momma should have taught him.”
But then I had to remember that this is an area where my husband is weak. And if I can’t be there for him when he’s at his weakest, then what would I be willing to do for him in our marriage. If I couldn’t be strong enough to take the first step with him (and in this case, I took it for him), then what would I be strong enough to help him with?
I concluded that not only would I take this first step for him, but I would take a lot of other first steps with him until he’s strong enough to do it himself. I’m going to drop him off at school when he doesn’t want to go; I’m going to call his tutor when he’s screwing up, and I’ll even talk to his teachers to find out how I can support him when he needs it the most. All of these things he’s done for me now that I’m back in school for my second degree. The least I could do for him is be there for him too.
I’d be a fool if I didn’t say that my biggest fear would be him divorcing me, and/or leaving me for a white woman the same way Bernadine’s husband did her in the movie “Waiting to Exhale”. But through all of this, I’ve learned that part of loving someone is giving them strength when they don’t have it.
I’m sure my husband will make me very proud. But I’m not worried about him making me proud. I’m already proud to be married to a black man that actually believes in marriage (because so many act like they don’t nowadays). I just want him to make himself proud. That’s all I want.
Am I foolish for doing this? Probably. But it’s a small sacrifice to make in life’s big picture.
Shauntae Hinkle-Lymas is a professional freelance graphic designer, and web design student in San Diego. She and her husband, Timothy Lymas, have been married seven years (although that number is questionable because they keep forgetting their wedding anniversary, but that story is for another day). Timothy and Shauntae, along with their only son Tim Jr. (TJ) loves listening to music, swimming, learning the ukelele/keyboard, and finger painting. You can check out some of the digital illustrations that Shauntae will be exhibiting at the San Diego County Fair at artandish.tumblr.com.