It’s day five of vacation, and my hubby, daughter and I have settled into an only slightly varying routine: breakfast, pool, lunch by the pool, more pool, gym (that’s the varying part), and dinner. Only today, one thing was a wee bit different, and that was the moment before lunch when I started screaming at hubby.
The kid was in the water, hoarding every raft she could find. That’s right. She had five of them in front of her, and each time someone approached to ask for one I thought she was about to charge the person a $10 rental fee.
While she practiced her new entrepreneurial skills, I decided to ask hubby one of the stupidest questions a woman can ask her husband. Can you guess what it is? No, it’s not “Do I look fat?” It’s worse, far worse. The question I asked was, “Have you ever been attracted to someone else besides me?”
Please, I beg of you, please tell me what the heck possessed me to ask him this question while on vacation, with scantily clad cocktail waitresses all around us. Maybe it was because I was having a good self-esteem morning and wanted to ruin it. Maybe I naively thought I had the confidence to handle his response. Or perhaps I was feeling low so I figured why not trample on myself a little more. In any event, it was dumb. Seriously dumb.
His first response was what you’d expect from a guy who is used to my Jedi mind-games: vague and non-committal. But then seconds later, he mentions a woman whom he knew at the hospital years ago while he was in medical training. He told me that he had found her attractive.
In my mind, when I pictured hubby and I one day having this chat, I thought I’d be cool, confident and understanding. I’d show him that I’m so secure in our relationship and in myself that I’d smile and say it was fine, heck even natural, that he’d find another person good looking.
Such were my thoughts prior to the conversation I’d been planning in my head for years. In actuality when he did say, for the first time in our relationship, that he had simply noticed another person, I flipped out. I yelled, I glared, and I used combinations of four letter words that have never been uttered before. And then I cried. Right there at the pool. So much for sexy and confident.
During my meltdown and even now, hours later, I can't fully understand why I responded so strongly and negatively. Because let’s be realistic here: how possible is it for two people to go through life together and never notice another person? Couldn’t we argue that it should be anticipated and managed, rather than feared and prohibited?
I don’t expect hubby to go through life with blinders on. I certainly don’t. We’re human. We find other people cute, good-looking, and sometimes even absolutely breathtaking. In fact, I notice that it’s at the happiest moments in my marriage that I see the beauty in the world around me, whether it’s in people, food, art, or nature. And there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that.
So why, when the inevitable truth finally came out so innocently, did it hurt so much?
~By Wendy Widom, Families in the Loop
Anyone else remember Clark Griswold and Christy Brinkley's character in National Lampoon's Vacation? The photo comes from Foter.com.