Diary of a Marriage: The Things I Won’t Do In Front Of My Husband
When I was younger, my mother said to me about marriage: “Always keep some mystery.” She might have been talking about any number of things, but if I remember correctly, I think she was talking about pooping. Ever since, I’ve drawn a connection between going to the bathroom in front of your spouse and imminent divorce.
Fast-forward a dozen or so years, and there’s not so much mystery anymore. I’ve peed in front of J. about a million times, he’s held my hair back as I’ve thrown up, and one time I even let him see the numbers on the scale as I weighed myself. But if he ventures near the bathroom while I’m, er, going to the bathroom, I unleash a guttural yell and barricade the door the same way I would if an intruder wielding a gun was in the house. In my mind, by never letting him see me go to the bathroom, I am preserving that air of mystery, and thus protecting our marriage from painful dissolution.
A few weeks ago, J. was away for the night. I walked into house—blissfully empty—and felt a small thrill. I had the house all to myself. I could do all the stuff I didn’t want to do in front of him. The possibilities were endless: I could drink an entire bottle of wine while watching a Teen Mom 2 marathon! I could clip my toenails downstairs in front of the TV! I could slather on self-tanning lotion and waltz around looking like a slimy walnut for an hour while it dried without his sidelong glances! I could turn on gangsta rap and dance around the house! I could clean everything.
Instead, I bought a bag of Goldfish and devoured it all in one sitting. I ate the tiny orange fish by the handful, and then I stashed the empty bag deep in the trashcan where J. wouldn’t find it. I’m sure a therapist would diagnose the episode as some sort of binge-eating disorder but to me, it was simple: When J. wasn’t there, I could eat all the crap I wanted, as fast as I wanted, without looking like a total slob. It was like Britney and her Cheetos circa 2007.
The next day I confessed my Goldfish binge to some of my friends. “I don’t even really like Goldfish all that much,” I admitted. “But they’re addicting. I would never let J. see me pigging out like that.”
Turns out, most of the people I talked to felt the same way, even my friend who is one of the healthiest, most balanced people I know. “I won’t overeat junk—candy, snacks, nothing nutritious—when my husband is around, even though I would love to eat poorly all the time,” she said. “His presence definitely keeps my shame factor about junk food at high alert, which can be a good thing really. If we weren’t married, I’d eat a bowl of mashed potatoes for dinner every night.”
And another friend agreed: “I won’t eat cookie dough, an entire pint of ice cream or an entire pizza in front of him,” she admitted. “I will, however, pick at my skin, fart, go to the bathroom with the door open and do all manner of other gross things.”
So apparently some bodily functions are fine, but stuffing one’s face is off-limits.
“No weighing,” said another friend. “And no pooping. All else is basically fair game.”
One friend told me she will not bleach her upper lip in front of her boyfriend. Another won’t let her husband see her shaving her bikini line. And many have said they forced their husbands to stay up by their shoulders when they delivered their children. “Jesus, that would scar him for life,” one said.
But when it comes to marriage, isn’t the point to abandon all pretense? When you’re sharing a whole life with someone else, you ultimately have to anyway. At our core, we’re hairy, hungry people who go to the bathroom, have weird pouches of fat on our bodies and sometimes consume copious amounts of junk food. But is there a line between being natural and being, well, gross? Where does the mystery go, and is it still possible to love someone when it’s gone?
My mother still doesn’t go to the bathroom in front of my dad, and they’ve been married for 35 years. Maybe there’s something to keeping certain things to yourself. In the end, though, I told J. about eating all the Goldfish. “Do you even like Goldfish?” he said. And that was it. So I suppose if he saw me going to the bathroom or eating an entire pizza or dancing manically to gangsta rap, he would love me the same. But I still won’t let him see me do it.
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