There are many reader advice columns out there, but as I have managed to gain no wisdom or knowledge in my years on this planet, I prefer to occasionally turn the concept on its head and ask you, yentas and meddlesome yiddishe manchiks of the world, to answer my most burning questions. And, my friends, the following is a question that literally burns:
Q. How do you maintain a sense of mystery in a marriage after 15 years and two (almost three) kids?
Before you send me your answers, here’s some background: Pregnancy has wreaked havoc on my digestive system, causing problems that are too ugly and painful to describe in detail. (Suffice it to say if you’ve ever maintained a purely kosher-for-Passover diet, you’ve probably experienced this same ailment.)
I had been hoping to keep these troubles private, as I like to harbor the illusion of remaining attractive to my husband. But a funny thing happens when you’ve been married for many years: They just know things.
“Oh, Sweetie,” Hubby said to me upon seeing me leave the bathroom with tears in my eyes. “You have hemorrhoids, don’t you?”
“I’m so sorry. You poor thing! Do you need medicine?”
A child or a dog or some other distraction entered the room, and I was able to dodge a direct answer. But a few days later, I accidentally let down my guard.
Hubby “valiantly” offered to schlep to Target in my stead (thus sticking me with what has become our nightly hours-long attempt to get Ozzy to stay put in his new Big Boy bed), and without thinking about it, I handed over the shopping list.
About 20 minutes later, my phone rang.
“You have something scrawled on here that I can’t quite make out. I think it begins with an ‘H’?”
“Yeah,” I sighed. “Hemorrhoid medicine.”
“Oh!” he laughed. “Sorry to make you say that out loud.”
“No, that’s great. Anything else embarrassing you want me to divulge in my vulnerable state?”
“No, that’s it,” he said. “Wait…” he added before getting off the phone. “Did you want the wipes or the cream?”
“What I want is to not have this conversation.”
We hung up and I looked in the mirror. I’ve gained 40 pounds these past six months, my hair is frizzy, my complexion a mess. I have hemorrhoids, and now there is no one who doesn’t know it.
Newlyweds who think about “growing old together” imagine grandkids running around their feet and mid-week trips to museums. Nobody foresees calls from Target.
Hubby came home. Ozzy was finally asleep, and both of us were sheepish.
“Who were these for again?” he joked, holding up a container of Tucks.
I growled and grabbed them out of his hand. I know that familiarity is comforting, but doesn’t it also breed contempt?
Still, I had to hand it to him: He had bought the wipes. It’s what he knew I wanted.