Diary of a Marriage: Cold House, Hot Marriage

Does living in a freezing cold house actually turn up the heat in your relationship?

Diary of a Marriage: Cold House, Hot Marriage


As is the case with most men and their spouses, J.’s body temperature is about 10 degrees warmer than mine at any given time. There are two instances when I become acutely aware of our this: when I wake up next to him in the middle of the night and he feels as if he is on fire, and sometime during the beginning of October when it becomes necessary to turn on the heat.

This year, that ‘sometime’ was this past Monday, October 8. On my way home from work, J. warned me that he hadn’t gotten a chance to pick up a new furnace filter. (Aside from being a very warm-blooded individual, he is also very careful about things like setting furnaces on fire.) “Be prepared, babes,” he warned. “You might think it’s a little chilly in here.”

I walked into the house that night fully prepared for arctic conditions. And that’s exactly what I encountered, a bracing whoosh of cold air that instantly woke me up.

“God! It’s freezing in here!”

J. rolled his eyes. Much as I think he’s got the internal temperature of a bird, he thinks I’ve got a flair for the dramatic to rival that of Meryl Streep.

He ushered me upstairs where he proffered his coziest sweatshirt—the one I claim all winter and then promptly return to him in spring to free up my drawer space. I yanked it on, pulling the hood over my head for good measure, and put on a thick pair of pants and my warmest socks. I looked like Randy in A Christmas Story, and I was still a tiny bit cold. I glanced at J., comfortable in his boxers, t-shirt and bare feet, and grumbled. We were so not having sex that night.

When I went to bed, the cotton sheets were freezing. My nose was ice. I didn’t sleep well—every time I moved and shifted my delicate cocoon of blankets, I woke up. If even a knee ventured out from beneath my comforter, I woke up. Finally, J. turned to me from his typical sleeping spot way over on the other side of our king-size bed, and asked if I was cold. I said yes, and then, it happened. He said:

“Come closer, babes. Let me hold you.”

It was a near out-of-body experience, one that was probably made sweeter by the fact that I was half-asleep. See, J. and I have reached the point where we don’t really snuggle after we’ve fallen asleep. Mostly because he gets too damn hot. And now we were cuddling, in the middle of the night, in the middle of our giant bed.

Having a freezing cold house was actually bringing us closer together.

It seeped into our living room, too. Rather than sit at opposite ends of the couch the next night, I moved closer to share my blanket with him, though he didn’t really need it. I stuck my cold feet under his legs. Our personal space boxes began to intersect more often. Life was cozy. I wonder why we don’t do this more often. When we dated, we cuddled all the time. We held hands constantly—especially while driving—and the whole point of watching movies on the couch was to have two full hours of uninterrupted personal-space-sharing. Now I get antsy and he gets “itchy” and sometimes one of us ends up on the floor.

I started to like our cold house. By Wednesday, I even looked forward to bundling up and cuddling on the couch and snuggling in bed. I vowed to do it more often, even in the summer. I’d hold his hand when we were in the car and put my arm around him more.

Still, though, I was happy when J. woke me up this morning. Because, right after hearing your husband sweetly say ‘Let me hold you’ in the middle of the night, the next greatest thing in the world is hearing him say:

“It’s absolutely freezing in here. I’m getting a new furnace filter and we’re turning on the heat tonight.”

Anyone else out there find that, over the years, you’ve stopped touching as much? How do you work back in that physical closeness—other than a freezing house?


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