Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why It’s Important to Cheat on Your Spouse

Haha! I knew that headline would grab your attention! Hey, didn’t cha know? I’m a swinger. Riiiiiiigggggghhhhhttttttt. Sure, I may joke about running off with the super hot guy who plays Dean on “Supernatural,” but I’m sure after a couple weeks his snores would annoy me with the same level of irritation that my husband’s do.

So no, I’m not advocating cheating. But what I do advocate is finding a way to rediscover what it was about your spouse that caused those stomach-flipping butterflies and that nervous smile when you first laid eyes on him/her across the crowded room. What it was that made you check your messages every ½ hour to see if they’d called. Or that made you take a little extra time to get ready for a date (did I say a little extra time? I used to spend hours trying on outfits before dates with my not-yet hubby)

When you’ve inched past the decade mark in your marriage, it can be exceedingly difficult to recall the thrill you felt the first time your and your beloved’s lips met. Especially when it’s just past 8:30 in the evening, you’re folding laundry, and your husband is asleep on the couch, snoring loudly with his mouth wide open. In the day-to-day act of living (and all the lovely and annoying things that go with it, like paying bills, cleaning toilets, the ups-and-downs of careers, leaky roofs, morning breath, that extra 10-lbs you swore you’d lose by now…not to mention the sometimes ugly arguments that are part of even the best marriages) the fire that made your heart race uncontrollably whenever you were around them is now just a thin wisp of gray smoke wafting lazily up from the dying embers of romance…

Okay, that’s a little hyperbolic. And I do have married friends who swear their flame is hotter than ever and if that’s so, then I say, “Rock on, sista!” But for the rest of us, perhaps not so much. And that’s not to say we don’t love our spouses as much as our “flames still burnin’” counterparts. It’s just saying we need to find a way to re-ignite that flame before it burns out completely.

And that’s where “cheating” comes in. I reach down into my memory and pull out my image of my DH as he was when we first met. Younger, of course—but at 48 he still is smokin’ hot for an “old” guy, thanks to daily work outs, a rigorous regime of vitamins and good genetics (and hair—still has most of his hair, graying of course, but it’s there). But what I try to envision in front of me is the 36 year old who impressed me so much with his intellect, his travel (he’s been to 30 countries), his commitment to healthy living, his willingness to go along with me wherever I wanted, be it roller-blading at the beach or out to Julian to pick apples. He also had a ton of friends who took me in like I’d been part of the group for years. Plus, he was a flowers-and-cards kind of guy. Hard to believe now, but he was. He even wrote poems to me.

He’s still the same guy, now buried underneath a high-stress account manager job, work-related travel (he’s gone every couple weeks for days at a time), a second mortgage, the needs of two growing kids, a tough economy (we said bah-bye to more than half of our net worth since December 2007 thanks to the stock market—and wouldn’t you know it, the stocks that are coming back around again now are not the ones we still own), commitments at church (he’s a deacon, and feels exceedingly guilty that he’s missed the last three Sundays because of kids’ activities—as opposed to me, who is pretty happy to have an excuse not to sit in the third row), and, well, just life.

And I’m not the same, either. I don’t like to admit it, of course, but it’s true. And it’s not just the extra “baby” pounds that never seemed to go away (oh, you have to exercise to lose weight? Go figure!). And it’s not just the smile lines around my eyes that are there even when I’m not smiling. I’ve got my own stuff to deal with—from the proverbial “family” issues, to career uncertainty (do I go full-time somewhere with a guaranteed paycheck, or continue to build my freelancing career?? *sigh*).

So when I fantasize about the guy who used to live in the skin now occupied by my husband, it’s not cheating, exactly, but it is sort of being with someone else—the person he was when we first met, and it was all exciting and new. It may sound strange, but it’s actually helped us. Because knowing that guy is still in there, buried just under the surface of the husband, has made me want to be more of the person I was when we were first together. Less quick to complain when things annoyed me. More willing to see his point of view. Eager to partner with him and give him my support, rather than roll my eyes or give one of those heavy “whatever” sighs.

So if you’re looking to strike a match to that last unburned coal of romance, try summoning up a mental vision of your spouse as a lover—as your lover, the one you would have done anything for. And keep that picture in your mind when you kiss them, when you take them in your arms…or even when you watch them, asleep on the coach, mouth wide open and snoring, at 8:30 in the evening.

PS: And going to a romantic restaurant once in a while doesn't hurt either--and I mean one that does not include chicken fingers on the menu. Leave the kids at home and pretend you're still young and hotter than you-know-what for each other. Here's some of the OC's best romantic spots for rekindling the flame...

French 75, Laguna Beach

La Cave, Costa Mesa

Manhattan Steak & Seafood, Orange

Mozambique, Laguna Beach

Orange Hill Restaurant, Orange

Rusty Pelican, Newport Beach

Studio, in the Montage Resort, Laguna Beach

The Cellar, Fullerton

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