I have been married for almost six years. That sounds like a long time to me, but it’s probably the same way kids feel about the time between the start of school and winter break. For the rest of us, it’s just three and a half months. It’s a few mortgage payment. But for those kids, it’s never-ending. I remember that feeling well. So yeah, six years.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I work part-time as a bartender in a restaurant where people go to celebrate special occasions, like birthdays and engagements and anniversaries. I often meet couples who tell me they’re celebrating 4o+ years of marriage and then I feel silly talking about my six years (well, nine really, if you count the dating time) of faithfulness like it’s some kind of great feat. But to me, it is a great feat because it’s the first time I’ve ever been totally faithful to anyone. I used to cheat on boyfriends all the time. I was definitely not a good girlfriend before I met my husband. After we met, I really thought I had changed. Honestly, I have a flawless track record. I practically have a halo bobbing above my head.
But at the same time, when I think about celebrating our 40th anniversary someday, I feel a little nauseous and panicky. I wonder how I’m going to do it. And also be happy. And not feel like I’m missing out. I wonder if I’ll be able to stay faithful for all those years, especially if I’m already doubting my ability to do it after only six.
As luck would have it, I’m not often tempted by anyone. For the most part, I recognize attractiveness but am not actively attracted to anyone. As in, I will look but feel absolutely no desire to touch. But in very rare instances, I develop a crush. And then I feel like I have no control so I stay far away. But what happens when I can’t stay away? What happens when that crush is somewhere I can’t avoid, like my job or something? I know how these things work. I’ll start picking up extra hours because getting to look at him once a week is not enough. And I’ll start staying late and having drinks with everyone after work, because it’s just so easy to do that with the kind of work I do. What happens when that guy looks at me like I’m more than just a mom and I”m hopelessly attracted to him…hypothetically, I mean.
I was talking to a friend last night and she was telling me about another mutual friend of ours. She cheated on her husband with a man who is married with four kids. She slept with this man after spending the night laughing and drinking with the man’s wife. His wife went to bed and she pounced. I was shocked by it. And disgusted and disappointed. But how is that any different than what I’ve been talking about?
I don’t think I’d be able to handle the guilt if I ever did anything like that. I think it would crush me. But my fear is that if it came down to it, and it was something that I really, really wanted to do I might not be able to not do it. If it was someone I’d been thinking about and flirting with and obsessing over. What if I couldn’t say no? And then I know I’d be screwed (har-de-har) because I’d be freaking out and endlessly worrying that someone would find out about. Plus, the guilt…
I think I’m just saying all this to get it out of me. You know, like how you’re supposed to talk about the nightmare you just had because that takes away its power to frighten you. And if I get it out of me now, maybe I won’t feel the way I’ve been feeling and act on it later.