By Aaron Traister, REDBOOK.
My wife and I have an honest, open relationship, mostly because Karel can read me as easily as a YA novel, so I can't lie to her. But there are a few things I simply don't tell her. I'm not hiding a heroin addiction or a mistress, nothing that could financially ruin us our cause bodily harm--just moments of my life I need sole ownership over. Here's what--and why--I don't tell her.
1. How much crap I eat when she's not around
The other afternoon I left the kids with Karel and went to the bar to write. (It's quieter there than at my house--amazing, I know). This bar is famous for serving a sandwich that's complete with salami, steak, fried onions, cheese, and "special sauce." It was such a rare treat not to have to put the kids to bed that I cut loose and consumed three in a row. That's three, in three hours, along with three pints of Guinness. When I got home and Karel asked me if I'd eaten, I just said, "Yes," as I staggered to the couch. Had I been more specific with my semi-vegetarian wife, I would've caught hell. I'm a generally healthy person, so three sandwiches didn't kill me, and not knowing about them didn't kill Karel. In fact, telling her might have backfired on Karel because when people tell me what's in my best interest, I tend to do the exact opposite. If she'd given me grief about those three sandwiches, I might have gone back for a fourth.
2. My complete computer history
Self-gratification. All men do it, and now, thanks to the Internet, all men have an endless supply of visual aids. I'm not talking about an Internet porn addiction here--I'm not missing Great Gram's 90th because I can't pry myself away from Booty Detectives 4. I'm just a regular guy who watches a normal amount of the stuff. Most wives don't want to know about this, and that's fine with me. Especially when my, uh, hobby causes technical problems. I see no reason to tell Karel that it was probably a visit to naughtynurses.com that crashed the computer. The guys at the Genius bar will figure it out, and that will be all the embarrassment I need.
3. That I can't deal with being outearned
Back when Karel was bartending and I was working at after-school programs and doing security at bars, our incomes were pretty even. Then she got a salaried job, and I had an hourly paycheck, which soon dwindled to no paycheck. On the outside, I'm cool about staying home with the kids and making less than my wife, but deep down, it drives me nuts. It feels totally emasculating.
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4. About the occasional tingling in my arm
Unless I can see bone or can't staunch the bleeding, I'm not going to the doctor for anything other than a checkup, so Karel doesn't need to know about my arm tingling, the semi-regular searing pain in my lower back, or the time I nearly passed out at the end of a four-mile run. Sometimes these things keep me awake at night, but they usually go away. Again, I'm a pretty healthy guy (see, I run), but like most middle-aged men I've become acutely aware of my mortality, and it would be cruel to subject my wife to my existential angst. I also fear that sharing my concerns with Karel would be akin to telling a doctor. Suddenly they'd be real, and there could be something, or several things really wrong. Ignorance is bliss for everyone involved.
5. The details of my night out with the guys
I don't go out much. Neither do most guys I know who have kids. So when I do manage to wrangle a group of friends, all bets are off. I'm staying until the bar throws me out, and I'm buying drinks. It's a release--a few hours to pretend I'm a teenager again. Will I regret it when the kids get me up at 5:30 the next morning? Sure. Will I regret it when I realize I blew my half of the weekly budget and I'll be eating buttered noodles for lunch all week? Sure. But it's totally worth it. As long as Karel isn't eating noodles and I'm pulling my weight as a dad the next day, it's none of her business.
6. That I flirt with other women
I occasionally banter with other women. Karel is beautiful, and I imagine she sometimes finds herself in the same situation, which is great, because I firmly believe in the sexiness of a little outside validation. But I don't want her to tell me about the guy she had a drink with on the plane--I just want her to jump me when she gets home. I believe we both need our own stories or we'd lose interest in each other pretty fast. Having private thoughts, fears, and guilty pleasures keeps me sharp and interesting and makes me feel that I still might be able to surprise Karel one day, and that I might also surprise myself.
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