“It’s not one of our nights,” said a local real estate developer over mini crabcakes on a Thursday evening. He was explaining why his wife was off doing her own thing just then, and though the music was a little loud at this party near Rittenhouse Square, what we’d just heard was unmistakable: The developer explained that his very happy second marriage existed only three days a week. He lives out in the suburbs during the week, while his wife resides downtown; they spend from Friday through Sunday together at one of their homes, contented and perpetually newly-in-love. They were like the Seal and Heidi Klum of Philly: secure, serene, hip and married. For three days a week.
I could only imagine the billboard flashing in my husband John’s head: “This guy is brilliant; he’s living every man’s dream!” And I thought, well, if I had one night off, I would watch Masterpiece Theatre and Love Actually and luxuriate in my huge pink flannel pajamas. (Okay, sometimes I do this when John is there.) “I wouldn’t want to be away from you,” John assured me loyally. “I wouldn’t either,” I said, truthfully, but still thinking about a guilt-free Colin Firth-a-thon.
Soon after that, my friend Laurie told me over lunch that her husband had suddenly changed up their part-time marriage: His previous work schedule had kept him out of town every week from Monday through Thursday. Now, he was back in Philly every day—and night. And while she adores him, she’d gotten used to working late and doing whatever she wanted about food and making plans to see friends. “He expects dinner,” she said, slightly amazed at this turn of events.
It makes sense: If you saw the person you love only a couple of days a week, you’d have tons of awesomely hot, inventive sex and always get taken out for great dinners at Amada. It would be like dating, but with joint bank accounts and a mortgage (or two) to tie the whole thing together. John and I don’t see each other much on some weekends, when the kids have eight billion lessons and playdates and there is laundry and trips to Lowe’s, but that’s not part-time marriage. Not as romantic as the Amada scenario, really.
Actually, part-time marriages don’t seem to work for anyone with children. A Main Line friend and mother of two whose husband’s work keeps him three states away most of the time pointed out that girly movies and cocktails at Plate are out the window for her. Another friend whose husband landed a great job in New York agreed: “There’s nothing glamorous about it,” she said, especially since the two are juggling a new baby and their numerous pets, and her husband is working until midnight most nights.
I don’t think it would work for me and John, either. He recently traveled overnight for the first time since we got married, and the whole time, even as I dined on chanterelles and snuggled with the cat while watching Pride & Prejudice, I really wished John was there along with Colin Firth.