Being married is the single hardest thing most of us will ever do. If you think “my marriage isn’t hard because I love my spouse so so much,” I challenge you to get real. Let’s be honest — even the happiest of couples say there are days they want to throw in the towel and hand their spouse an apple and a road map.
Staying married is a choice we make every day, and some days, the choice is a lot harder than others.
Marriage is hard because life is complicated. Relationships are difficult because they are work — like get-your-hands-dirty-dig-down-deep-I-want-some-alone-time-Lord-give-me-strength-why-the-hell-did-I-say-yes-what-were-we-thinking work. A job.
The day-to-day stuff is exhausting. As a married couple, there are never-ending bills to pay, unexciting things like new roofs or car tires we are forced to save for and responsibilities we cannot avoid. Gone are the days of care-free living and only taking care of your own personal needs. Add parenting to that and you have a recipe for two people who can easily become roommates and no longer lovers, companions, or partners. People can either grow old together or they can grow apart.
As a psychotherapist, relationship expert, and spouse for almost 23 years, I’ve heard it all. I’ve seen couples separate I never thought would split. It’s heartbreaking and tragic. No spouse is immune, and no marriage is fire-proof.
I’ve lived the ebb and flow of my own marriage, and I know the work it takes to stay married. It’s hard to stay attracted to the same person you hear burp, fart, or snore loudly (disclaimer: I only snore when I am really tired). It’s hard to stay attracted to someone you see vomiting with the flu or having diarrhea from bad Thai food. It’s hard to say attracted to someone you see grouchy, stressed out, or wearing a c-pap mask or mouth guard to bed at night. It’s hard to stay attracted to someone you hear blowing their nose loudly or someone who puts on a few extra pounds here and there (or possibly everywhere). It’s hard when our blind spots disappear and we see our spouses as the flawed and blemished humans they really are. It’s just plain hard.
It’s a national debate on what the actual divorce rate is, but here is what I know for sure: it’s higher than any of us should hope for and it means we are all vulnerable to the possibility it could affect us. If it’s not us, it will be our neighbor, our sister or brother, our parents, or our best friends. It will be the nice couple at church, the good-looking duo you think has it all, or the parents who drive the minivan to school with the license plate that reads “ohana.”
After seeing couples struggling in my office and couples struggling in my personal life, I’ve come to a difficult decision. It’s time for a change. I want the spark. I want to feel like a teenager in love. I want a crush, and I want to be in a state of limerence. I want butterflies and I want goose bumps. I want excitement and mystery. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Here goes: I want to have an affair… with my husband.
I want my husband to know I’m thinking of him during the day and, while some of the thoughts are about what’s for dinner or who must drive my daughter to volleyball practice, other thoughts are about how sexy I find him, how proud of him I am, or how he has a nice ass. I want my husband to feel seen by me, desired by me, and valued by me. I want him to know time spent together matters. I want to send my man silly and racy text messages that make him blush and let him know that after all these years, I still dig him. I will, however, not send him nudes–not because I’m being conservative or modest (both of which I am), but because if I accidentally sent it in our family group text, it would send my three children into lifelong therapy. There are some things a kid never wants to see.
I am going to tell my husband he smells good—even if it’s just sweat or the burrito he had for lunch. I’m going to put my phone down when he comes home from work and talk with him so he knows I’m interested in his day and what he has to say. I want to wink at him, not because there is something in my eye but because he caught my eye and I think he’s cute, funny, or clever.
I don’t want to be his mom, to scold him or belittle him. I don’t want to be his roommate, to walk past him or look through him. I don’t want to be his boss, telling him what to do or how he failed. I want to be his partner—the one he desires and who he feels desired by. I want him to feel pursued and needed, even on days we struggle to find a common time to connect or have common ground that doesn’t involve the kids.
Having an affair with my husband means more about feeling sexy than having sex. It means more about being longed for than longing for something or someone else. It means more about happiness than complacency. It means more about finding myself than losing myself.
I plan to make our affair romantic, fun, adventurous (think 50-year-old adventurous, not 21-year-old adventurous…big difference) and unexpected. I want to jump start his heart and not just tell him that I love him, but more importantly, make him feel that I love him. I don’t want to be Mr. and Mrs. Peck when we leave for work in the morning. I want to smack him with a big kiss that he will remember all during the day. I want him to feel that he is alive, our love is alive, and our marriage is alive. I want to remind us that we still have passion and infatuation, after 3 kids and all these years.
So please, cut me some slack. Smile at me if you see me shopping in Victoria Secret or wearing a booby-top when I’m out to dinner with my husband. Forgive me if I’m dancing with my husband and can’t keep my hands to myself, if you catch me playing footsie with him under the table or if I pass up a night out with the girls for date night with my husband instead.
If my car is parked somewhere with steamy windows, don’t knock and ask if everything is all right. Don’t judge me for pinching his ass in public, renting a room at a hotel, or leaving a note with a lipstick mark on the windshield of his truck. I’m having an affair with the man who I chose every day and the person who knows me the best in the whole world. I’m bringing my A-game and I’m spicing things up—not because our marriage is in trouble, but because he deserves it and we matter.