Why "Wife" Is A Dirty Word


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

In truth, it could be my fault. When we first moved in together, I was very candid about discussing my time-of-the-month. He's not a girl, I figured, let me shine a bright light on the female experience. And that mentality carried over into my pregnancy. I thought, wow, here I am experiencing this miracle of life, the least that I can do is to share my own notes on the underbelly. Like this:

"Hey babe, I just peezed."


"What's that?"

"Oh, that's when the pressure of the baby on your bladder causes you to pee a little bit when you sneeze," I cheerfully informed him.

No wonder Andrew thinks it's okay to talk about the goings-on on the other side of the door now. Once you've admitted to peeing your pants, it's tough to close the floodgates. The problem being: These discussions are the opposite of hot. Not to mention that Sadie is a solid sleeper, and my maternity clothes were deep-sixed long ago, so hello, I'm ready for hot again.

And now, ever since I uttered it on the ski lift, I keep returning to the idea that, while I may be his wife, I still want to be his girlfriend, too. And I try to think of Andrew as my boyfriend as well as my husband of six years. Fundamentally, I think, the difference is a willingness—or desire—to impress. I'm not saying you need to return to a place of self-consciousness—as if we could. Rather, just a place of thoughtfulness in the way you move around the other person and what you share.

Yes, we want to foster closeness. You want to feel closer to that person than anyone else on earth. But, at the end of the day, sharing everything can do you a disservice. That's because, come nightfall, you still want to turn that person on. And having a kid means that, on most nights, we don't have the luxury of moving close on a sweaty dance floor or sharing a heated, late-night cab ride home. We need to find the erotic in the same home where we change dirty diapers.

And we're both doing our best. When I know we're settling in for a movie night, I recall what I might have worn with Andrew when I was still trying to woo him. And I'll take off the paint-stained fleece and put on something with a sexier neckline. And if I need to go to the bathroom to pick the steak out of my teeth, I now close the door to do it. For his part, Andrew's never again asked for the blow-by-blow of my bout with the flu. And he's stopped watching TV in his old, worn T-shirt and boxers a la Al Bundy. Thank God.

It might seem silly to give one word such power. But for better or for worse, girlfriend signifies that he still has to work, or at least think—and wife doesn't.

And you know what? Sometimes, ignorance is not only bliss–but a turn-on.

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