Why "Wife" Is A Dirty Word

Why "Wife" Is A Dirty Word

Why "Wife" Is A Dirty Word

How being his girlfriend and his wife brought the magic back to a marriage.

"How many times did you vomit?" my husband, Andrew, asked, smiling at me as the ski lift climbed.

What? Did he really just ask me that? I thought.

Even worse, his tone suggested that there was a competitive bent to his questioning—like we were about to engage in our own game of "Who Was More Sick," right there in the sky.


Earlier in the week, we'd both fallen victim to a stomach virus that made its first attack on our toddler daughter, Sadie. We were standing at the Air Canada counter, eager to embark on our snowboarding vacation, when Sadie first tossed her organic cookies.

I had always believed that parents were impervious to their children's ailments, until I learned better firsthand. For Andrew and I, it started with a middle of the night tummy grumble and got worse from there. But three days later we managed to suit up and find ourselves high above the snow-covered mountains of British Columbia. Our vacation was beginning—or so I thought.

"Dude…" I finally managed to reply. What I wanted to say to his barf challenge was that there ought to be some sort of line we didn't cross sharing those kinds of details with each other. Instead, all that popped out was: "I'm your wife."

Then I realized that the word "wife" actually made it sound like I should be reveling in his graphic recount, and, I suppose, sharing my own. After all, I wasn't his "girlfriend," "lover," or "fiancée." And wife, let's face it, is a dirty word—and not the good kind of dirty. A wife might buy your toilet paper. She might wash your underwear. She's expected to be the willing, concerned ear, listening like your mommy would, to the details of your popped blisters. Once I realized the absurdity of what I was trying to say, I stammered "…but I still want to be your girlfriend."

Ah yes, the girlfriend days. The beginning of our romance was a passionate time filled with decadent late-night dinners and weekend road trips to bed and breakfasts up and down the eastern seaboard. But on occasion, after a meal, Andrew wound up with an upset stomach and retreated to the bathroom. I, blissfully unaware of the play-by-play, was left to sip wine and write in my journal about my new love. Unbeknownst to us at the time, Andrew was lactose-intolerant. But my point is that, as my boyfriend, the bathroom door was closed—with good reason. So, why, as my husband, was he trying to blow it wide open?