so if i get too sexy for you, now you’ll know why

I dunno, there’s something unsexy about husband. Sure, when you’re first married, it’s a word you say with a giggle. "So strange," you say, "to call you that now. Strange good." And you both comment on the newness of it, feeling silly saying the words to a concierge on your honeymoon. "I’ll need to check with my husband; we’ll let you know." But with time, "Check with my husband" feels so very TomKat, and the charm of husband kinda stalls out on you.

I stop feeling independent.

It’s why the idea of boyfriend feels so much goddamn hotter. A new boyfriend to woo, to impress, to make fall in love with me. So you act like you’re the cool chick. You wear lingerie. Every time. Or wee bits of this and that, but you’re not walking around in Old Navy drawstring HOHOHO flannels. You withstand football, even feign interest… okay, no, I’ve never gone that far. It’s not as if you lose yourself, but you do, for sure, present your most agreeable side without giving out on your inner sassmonger. You don’t lose yourself; you loosen. You sit on his lap. You tell him to meet you at a bar. You kiss him on the mouth, for real. There’s none of that peck shit. It’s passionate, alive, doubling like dough left to rise. It’s the mindset I hope to keep, to reclaim. Because sometimes when I’m all about us, I forget about the me I used to be for we… and for me: the chick who’s capable of more than complaints. The chick who’s capable of anything.

"So from now on, I’m calling you my boyfriend, not my husband. Thought you should know. You know, so if I get too sexy for you, now you’ll know why."

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  1. I love this post! It is so true. My husband is going to be so confused when I begin introducing him as my boyfriend. This is fabulous on two fronts. It will be fun to feel independent and sexy again and it will also be fun to confuse the boyfriend/husband!

  2. I make that: My lover. Very hot and exciting. Even when I drop sentences like: I have a date tonight. People keep being surprised: with who? Yes, it keeps it fresh and fun.

  3. I met a couple who was married for 50 years and he still refers to her as his girlfriend. And the spark in her eye when she hears this is apparent. Great post, Stepahnie!

  4. I struggle with this all the time. I love living with my husband but sometimes we get so accustomed to each other. Like, why put on sexy linguerie when I’m so mofo tired from the work day (flannel!). I despise PECKS and would rather throw up all over my husband than to receive them daily. I hate that sometimes we talk to each other more like siblings than lovers and more than not, sometimes I just hate that it takes so much work to make a relationship seem no exciting and hot.

  5. God I so needed this post. I semi-recently split from a boyfriend (an actual boyfriend, hahaha) of 6.5 years and am sort of dating someone new (and 9 years older! I’m 26, he’s 35…so hot!). The ex felt like a husband and I definitely fell into the mundane, day-to-day routine–definitely stopped wearing lingerie, definitely didn’t have passionate kisses anymore. Made me so sad! I think it’s re-claimable, but my relationship was past its mark. And the newness of this new one is….amazing. I forgot how it felt. I too hope to keep that alive in the relationship that I eventually turn from “boyfriend” to “husband.”

  6. Sorry but I have to disagree. I LOVE calling my husband by that term. It makes me feel connected, that I have someone who is my partner for my lifetime, my husband. Just as much as I love being referred to as his wife. I haven’t lost my identity or the romance. Pecks? I haven’t pecked anyone since I was a kid. Actually it makes me sad to hear that you feel no longer independent. It makes me laugh to think that there are women out there who would LOVE to be married and have someone to call their husband and you feel it a burden of sorts.

    1. hmm i think you’re reading way into this post. And i don’t believe Stephanie ever said her marriage burdens her.

      1. To me it seemed as though that the burden of marriage was stopping Stephanie from being independent, herself. She says you lose yourself when you get married and I disagree. If anything I think you are allowed to be more yourself than ever when you are married. You should also go into a marriage being completely yourself and not doing things (such as watching football, wearing sexy things to bed, etc.) just to gain the interest and keep the attention of a boyfriend. Like I said, I just think its sad that she got married and lost herself and feels the term husband to come with such images as Tomkat.

        1. yes that makes sense but she also said she never watched football to gain the interest of a man. I think she hit the nail right on the head though when she said that while dating we all show our best selves. And i don’t think you’re losing yourself by wearing something sexy to bed with a boyfriend.

          I’m not married so I can’t speak on this first hand but my mom has come to me because after 31 years of marriage her marriage to my father has become monotonous (and it’s not something new). They haven’t dated in ages because they see each other everyday, their sex life is pathetic. As much as I didn’t want to intrude I felt like I should listen to her….and all I could think of saying was “mom wear something sexy!”. She clearly wants to spice things up and just didn’t know how and I don’t think she’s losing herself because of it.

          And you said yourself that you haven’t pecked someone since you were a kid….but sadly some relationships start going that route where every kiss becomes a peck and sex is always on the bed and sometimes for some people role play can get you out of the runt and things can become exciting again.

          I just think it’s unfair to say that her marriage burdens her…if it did she wouldn’t be thinking of ways to spice it up.

  7. I admit, I find nothing sexier than calling my husband my husband. It speaks to commitment, to knowing each other, to knowing exactly how to push buttons in the bedroom, to not having the constant insecurity of whether this is going to last or not.

    To each her own, but I think husband is far sexier than boyfriend.

  8. I love this post, and it couldn’t come at a better time! My husband and I have a 6 month old baby and with our jobs, our house and our painfully monotonous responsibilities, there’s absolutely zero spark. Perhaps referring to him as my boyfriend will liven things up. At least when he actually was my boyfriend our fights ended with make up sex. Now I’m so irritated and exhausted by our fights that I go sleep in another room just to avoid dealing with him.

  9. GREAT POST!!! This is absolutely spot on. I usually just use my husband’s name instead of calling him “husband” but maybe I will start calling him my “special friend”… So much more exciting!

  10. This is really funny to me, because I feel the opposite. I hated calling him my boyfriend, because I felt like I was in high school. I was so happy when we got engaged (for lots of reasons, of course) because I finally had a more grown up title to call him. I liked using “fiance.” Oddly enough, a year and a half after the wedding, “husband” still feels weird to me. I guess I should just stay permanently engaged.

  11. Strumming about in a newish relationship (the real deal, one that’s lasted through a couple of holidays and both Fall birthdays), I have trouble calling it, naming it. At 44 “boyfriend” sounds too Grape Bubble Yum. Same sex has a lock on “partner” and “lover” makes me thinks of hippies with overgrown pubes. Introducing him as a “friend” sounds as if we’re just doing it (that’s the “fling”).

    I’m going with “manfriend.”

  12. My husband and I call each other “daddy” and “mommy” respectively because we’re usually talking about each other to our kids, or yelling up/downstairs for each other, for the kids. That said, I think I feel the sexiest when he says my name. Which happens so rarely that I can’t even hear what it sounds like in my head. But I know that every time he says it, even to other people, it gives me a thrill, like we’re dating again and he’s feeling my name in his mouth, testing it out to see how well it will fit together with his name. Like I am a person, more than a title.

    1. Author

      I think this is very true. I’ve written about it before. The most beautiful word to our ears is actually our own name. It makes us feel noticed, that we matter, that we’re important. But when it’s said often with a “Stephanie, do you know how moronic you sound?” It kinda loses something in the translation :) But I 100% know what you’re saying Tiffany. When he raises a glass, and says, “I just have to say, I really do love you, Stephanie.” *There* it totally works. Funny how using my name resonates more than the words “I love you.”

  13. I overheard the following conversation between my mother and aunt a few years ago:
    Aunt:Does Audrey have a boyfriend?
    Mom: She has a man friend
    Aunt: What’s the difference?
    Mom: I think you call them a man friend when you are too old to have a boyfriend.

    Oddly enough, I took no offense to this statement and have used, “man friend” ever since. Should be noted, when this conversation took place I was at the ripe age of 25. Thanks, mom!

    1. Author

      “Man friend” sounds like what a man might call his menstruation period. “Sorry, can’t make it to the game, got my ‘man friend’ in town. Gonna kick back at home and try to power-through the gentleman cramps.”

  14. I love using the term husband! I think after dating him for 6 YEARS, I’ve earned it! I also adore when he introduces me “This is my wife Ashley”! It gives me butterflies! Maybe it’s just him that gives me butterflies! *and yes we are newlyweds!*

  15. I LOVE these comments! I think I’ve laughed out loud about five times while reading them. Unlike erose, I HATE “fiance”. There’s this couple at work who’ve been engaged for-fricking-ever, and whenever someone refers to them as each other’s boy/girlfriend, they always correct the person with “fiaaaaaaance”. It soured the word for me.

    I agree that my own name is the sexiest, though. We rarely use each other’s names, because we usually refer to each other by a certain petname. Which is sweet, but when he uses my actual name, it always catches me off guard and gives me a secret thrill.

  16. I just got married last month and have no problem calling my husband my husband. I never could get behind “fiance” because that word makes the vom creep up the back of my throat. (Just like rotten. And panties. Ugh. I digress…)

    But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Which is to say, no matter what you call him, your relationship won’t change, your actions won’t change, and your attitudes won’t change just because his title does; it doesn’t work like that.

    Intellectually I can remember what it was like to get those butterflies in my stomach, a surge of electricity as he grabbed my hand, and the tingling in my toes as he’d kiss me goodnight–but that doesn’t mean I can’t be satisfied with what we have now. Because all of those feelings, as wonderful and exciting as they are, are tied to immediacy and the idea that they might not be permanent.

    It’s time to stop wishing for what we don’t have and be happy with what we do.

    1. Author

      I have a big fat response to this, or maybe you have a big fat response to this:

      Sometimes we think we know what we want, but once we have it, we realize that wasn’t it at all. We were chasing the wrong dream, or at least, we weren’t taking the direct route. Also, our wants can change.
      Overall, I am happy with my life. Wanting things, even things to be different, for things to evolve and maybe even return to where things began, isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a sign of unhappiness. Whenever I say I want something, there’s always someone nearby pointing out that I should be happy with what I have. They’re missing the point. It is absolutely possible to appreciate and acknowledge all you have in your life and still want. Not necessarily want for more, but want new. Want change. Want different. It’s allowed. It doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful. It means you’re human. It means you don’t want to settle in your life and instead see it as a task, a necessity, to challenge yourself. To kick-start your life and question your habits. To live your best possible life.

        1. I think she’s protesting because people can’t seem to get off her back about this. I would be defensive, too, if people were constantly criticizing me for breathing.

  17. I agree about fiance. I never could get myself to say it. I actually didn’t much care for boyfriend either, being an adult and all, it felt a little silly, a little high school. It always seemed so ridiculous to me watching Sex and the City and seeing these 38 year old women talk about their 45 year old “boyfriends”. It’s like at the end of “As Good As It Gets” when Helen Hunt calls Jack Nicholson her boyfriend and it’s obviously completely absurd because he’s like 60. I’m okay with husband. What I can’t deal with is being a Mrs. It makes my skin crawl. Luckily I’m only one year away from a PhD. It might be pretentious, but I’ll take Dr. over Mrs. any day.

  18. you and phil haven’t even been together that long to get sick of the word husband, have you? was this a problem that you had in your first marriage, too?

    1. yeah, I’m sure that was it. Not the cheating & lying. Sorry, couldn’t stop myself. Feel free to delete, Stephanie.

      1. Haha!!! I agree. I can’t believe Stephanie thinks cheating broke up her first marriage, when it was OBVIOUSLY her sometimes-dislike of the word husband.

        1. i’m not at all implying that stephanie broke up her first marriage because she didn’t like calling him “husband.” my post says “a” problem, not “the” problem. do you know the difference between definite and indefinite articles? clearly there were problems in the plural in the marriage, culminating in his cheating. i am simply asking if the title “husband” was also difficult for her in her previous marriage.

          1. Author

            I guess my issue with this is that I don’t have “a” problem with the term husband; I never have. I just think there’s something playful and flirty about the term boyfriend. I think it keeps you young… both at heart and together.

  19. husband implies swiping on Secret while writing down instructions for the babysitter. Boyfriend implies lingering glances and dessert wine. From now on I’m calling my husband my boyfriend (and perhaps no longer grooming in the kitchen)

  20. This just cracks me up, everyone looking for all the deep meaning, judging, etc. I’m middle-aged and I have always dug the thrill of the hunt. Loved “new”. New is exciting. Doesn’t mean I don’t love my husband. Doesn’t mean I’m not happy. or that there aren’t things that excite me about my husband. Just means that I find the hunt exciting. I think that’s normal for some people.

    Vive la difference.

  21. I LOVE this reply Stephanie. There are some who keep hounding that, wanting, is evil. Wanting does not make a person ungrateful. So true. I think I may as well be taking a dirt nap if I have lost my zest for want. Because so long as I’m alive, I WANT to be evolving. And that’s impossible if I take root in complacency and don’t desire for new and different. But, that is how I choose to spend my time – always learning, growing, doing, dreaming, desiring, hoping………and appreciating how far I’ve come, how happy I am (mostly).

    1. Change and evolution are similar but not synonymous.

      The first implies an tangible switch of direction/scenery/task; the latter is more about growth or modification in attitude and understanding.

  22. Loved this post Stephanie. I told you when I met you that I am gay and that I have a “partner.” But it’s still fun when I fly with friends (we are flight attendants) that we always choose a “husband” or a “wife” for the flight. Of course the husband or wife of the day doesn’t know that they have been chosen…

  23. My parents have been married over 30 years and are two of the most in love people I have ever met. They are my role models for what I want in a marriage and out of life in general. Every year for my mom’s birthday, my dad buys her two birthday cards…one for his wife…and one for his girlfriend…he says the day that he stops calling her his girlfriend, that is a problem, but it will never happen…and I have always thought that to be insanely sweet. It’s thoughts and actions like these that they still do for each other that have made them not just work out relationship wise, but still have that spark. So I say you should call him your boyfriend for life…and maybe even add the extra birthday card.

  24. Stephanie, did you read “A More Perfect Union” in the NY Times magazine this week? I’m halfway through it and it reminds me of you and Phil (in particular w/r/t cooking and food). Not in a bad way. Thought I’d mention it in case you hadn’t seen it.

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