When I was in New York (what seems like a million years ago now, instead of just 3 weeks ago) I went to uber-sexy Buddakan for dinner with an old friend. After the initial “you haven’t aged a bit!” pleasantries, Mike asked how long I’d been married (which was the last time I saw him). When I told him it had been 13 years, he marvelled, quite sincerely and asked, “What’s your secret?” I paused, not quite knowing how to answer. Mike, a 42 year old serial monogamist, went on to lament that he meets these beautiful, intelligent, successful women (of which there are plenty in New York!) dates them for awhile, falls madly in love with them, and then he claims, they morph into depressed individuals lacking self-confidence.
Yowch. A rousing endorsement for staying single for life if I’ve ever heard one, but many working women I know have fallen into that exact rut that Mike so eloquently described – she marries Prince Charming, trades the corporate ladder for the Joy of Cooking, play dates and negotiating with pint-sized dictators, drowns feelings of jealousy (over hubby’s career, over hubby’s hot co-worker, over her former self) and anger (with doing the lion’s share of the housework and parenting as she does not “work” outside the home) with pinot grigio. No wonder we’re depressed. Add to that the 10 pounds of baby weight we can never seem to lose and age’s nasty inverse relationship to skin elasticity, and you have it – the plight of married women in the new millenium. Our bra-burning grandmothers are rolling in their graves knowing that we have willingly stepped back into June Cleaver’s sensible shoes. We’re baking cookies, but we’re not totally happy, we’re not quite sure why, and we’re not sure what to do next.
That was my answer to Mike’s question. My good friend Rosie, who’s been married 30 plus years swears that her secret to their successful marriage is to give him “just a bit more sex than he can handle.” Not to be glib, but not many bad feelings, hurt or anger or otherwise, can linger past the first couple of humps. It’s like laugh therapy, only it feels better. I believe if you can get to sex, your marriage is still relatively intact, or at least you’ve agree to fake it until you can make it so. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering either (although that never hurts), just some skin-on-skin contact. Even if you’re angry and you’d like to throw a pot/hammer/boots at his forehead, repurpose that energy and screw his brains out. I bet you in the end, everyone will feel a whole lot better.