Not Taking Know For an Answer
I have a guy friend, "Bobby," whose wife has blurted out twice (once at my wedding reception) that Bobby and I dated in college. We actually had a one- night stand -- over 10 years ago. Word got around to my husband, who asked me if Bobby and I had indeed dated. I said no, since technically we hadn't. I finally asked Bobby's wife to stop talking about it, and she sort of apologized, and hasn't spoken of it since. Still, I'm really nervous when we run into her at social functions, because knowing about Bobby would upset my husband. I can see him getting all jealous, like, "We've been hanging out with this guy, and now I find out that you slept with him." He'd at least be hurt that something was kept from him (even though he specifically stated that he never wanted to be told this stuff). Worse, he might want to have the "numbers" conversation, and let's just say I've lost track, and he believes sex equals love, and the only other person he ever slept with was his ex.
Your husband knows you were a hussy. That's why he made it clear he never wanted to be told what you did, and with whom. And a good thing that is, since it sounds like the details of "with whom" may sometimes be limited to "#59. Ian's friend from SF," "#61. Jeff McSomething-Or-Other," and "#63. Guy from plane."
If your husband's going to maintain his preferred picture of you as his little Snow White, you're going to have to help him stay in the dark about Bobby and the rest of the 107 dwarves. The problem is, curiosity can make even the most sensible people stupid. If your husband catches wind of the Bobby story again, even though he knows he's better off not knowing, he'll probably squeeze you for answers. Even if you tell him "It was nothing," and "It happened once, more than 10 years ago," and he understands that intellectually, his male brain is likely to turn it into a sexual horror film on an extremely unlimited run: "Bobby! Bigger! Better!" Of course, in your husband's mind movie, Bobby is not just "well-endowed," he had to be lowered onto your bed with a special crane. And reminders of Bobby will be everywhere.
Your husband will be watching the news when they show some enormous missile being launched. He'll squint his eyes a little, and suddenly, it's anatomically correct, and what's that printed on the side? "Bobby, Class of '96"?
Disclosures about one's sexual history should be made according to a modified version of the old "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" -- with the caveat, "unless what happened in Vegas can cause big purple boils to form on your partner's upper lip." This does run counter to the "tell-all" model of marriage -- the mistaken notion that your spouse has the right to know everything about you and the equally mistaken notion that it's a good idea. Am I telling you to lie? Like a big shaggy rug. If your husband asks you about Bobby: "It never happened." If he presses you: "It's a rumor, and it's wrong." Be prepared to be just as firm in refusing to let him deconstruct the rest of your sexual past. Should you feel guilty about lying, remember, in the short run, coming clean is easier, feels better, and requires much less upkeep. In the long run, "happily ever after" works best when it isn't hyper-focused on naked, drunk, and grope-ily ever before.
Getting Up On the Wrong Side Of the Wed
I've been with a wonderful man for 15 years. We're partners in every sense of the word. Everything really is terrific -- until somebody asks me when we're getting married. It upsets me that people basically act like our relationship is irrelevant because we don't feel the need to sign a piece of paper. What can I say to convince them we're happy together?
When you're at the drugstore, scan the magazine rack. You'll see Brides, You & Your Wedding, and maybe even Idaho Bride & Groom, but no Martha Stewart Living In Sin. So many people see getting married as such a given that a whole industry has risen up to support it, while couples like you still get no props for being quietly happy for 15 years without being licensed for it by the government. As for convincing people that your relationship means something, if it means something to you, why does it have to mean something to anybody else? Next time some aisle-bot asks when you're getting married, just shoot back, "We're not, but if it makes you feel better, I'll register at Crate & Barrel and you can celebrate our rogue bliss by buying us a blender."
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, No. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com.
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