in the beginning

In the beginning, we not only shave, we exfoliate. We apply lotion and fall asleep naked or in silk. Oral pleasure isn’t just witty banter, and most of all, we’re willing to dance, to try foods we know we don’t like, we’ll go camping ’cause we said we loved the outdoors—only we’d meant sitting on a lounge chair, maybe an iPod trot into town. Light and breezy, ready and willing for whatever. And, yes, we even consult close friends on lube strategy and discuss the possibility of back door situations. We listen to music, or watch movies they like. We give.

We leave the courting stage, and go back to our ways, with sweet gestures, creative moments and memories made. We pick up his favorite foods. He’ll DVR a show he thinks she’ll like. Small sweet tokens, some good hair pulling sex, and you remind yourself to sit on his lap and treat him like your boyfriend.


You knew that was coming. But what do you do when the one you love asks you to attend a heavy metal concert, and just the thought of it makes your life hurt? Not just your ears or feet, your entire being. The idea of standing in general seating—where there are no seats, where you’re basically in a garage, where you wait 35 minutes for a piss poor imitation of a cocktail, all to hear someone you never ever want to hear, now or ever again—it’s exhausting even to think about how much you don’t want to be there. What if you know the entire time you will be miserable and will have to suck it up and fake how totally okay you are with it all because “Honey, I want so much to share in what makes you happy.” And you know 100% that he’d go for you! No, one better: Phil is the type of man who would order tickets for the two of us to attend something he knows he’ll absolutely loathe, just because he knows how much I like it. That’s who he is…

I say this next bit while cringing.
But it ain’t who I am.

He wants to please me, to surprise me. To have me share in what he loves. And I’m a terrible person. Because I’m not that person. Yes, really. It really is that hard for me to just suck it up for a night and make him happy. There are many things I do to show love, only this is the way he wants to be loved, for me to share and enjoy with him what he enjoys. I get it. I really do. And I love this man, really love this man. But I’m a selfish shit because I want absolutely zero part of this nightmare torture shit-chamber hell-storm stand-and-sway, then jump, and act like you like you like the music. I need to discuss this with my therapist.

Textbook advice from people who’ve been married forever might say: If you put the other person’s happiness before your own, and always try to make them happy, you’ll have a long and happy marriage. Other lifelongers would argue: it’s important for each person to have his/her own interests, to do things on your own.

I’m guessing my therapist will tell me that it is perfectly acceptable for either person to opt-out of an event, a television show, a movie, a concert, whatever. That I should say, you know, I know this concert will make you happy, and I don’t want to get in the way of that, because I know myself, and it’s just not for me. Why don’t we plan another night to do something we’ll both enjoy? And this response of mine, she’ll say, is perfectly reasonable, that it shouldn’t disrupt things. That in a healthy marriage, our spouse should understand; it’s not the end of the world. Or maybe she won’t say that. I’ll let you know.

But when I turn things around and think, if Ray Lamontagne came to town, and I asked Phil to go, and he said, “You know I love you, but it’s really not my thing. Why don’t you go, enjoy it, and we’ll plan something else to do together that we both enjoy” I would be absolutely, positively, unmistakably fine with it. There would be no “selfish,” no pouting, no “Why do I even bother asking?” I simply wouldn’t take it personally. At all. Isn’t that the way it should be?

By the way, it’s not actually a heavy metal concert. But that’s really beside the point. In response to his email titled, “Can I Convince You To Go To This?” Here’s how I handled it:

“I love you honey. I really do. I think I’d prefer to sit this one out, and I hope that’s okay, and that you don’t take it personally. Because it’s not. I just don’t enjoy loud music and standing unless it’s an acoustic guitar with a loud soulful singer who’s all about lyrics. I hope you understand and that we can do something else fun together that we’ll both enjoy. Would that be okay?”

And when I arrived home and restated it in person, he said, “Okay,” and left it at that. We are making some serious progress. Love the man for not making a sweeping generalization about my love for him, from an isolated behavior. Go us.

Off to wax the ‘gina.



  1. Yay you (both of you!). This post is so real, yet so optimistic-sounding. And so 2010. Life is good.

  2. ehhhh I don’t know. How come he sent his request in email rather than just asking you in person at some point? Is it because he already knew your answer, and in email, it would allow the hurt to remain hidden more easily?

    That said, I agree, if you really don’t share a passion for something, you should be free to opt out. For me its snow skiing…and I actually planned pregnancies so that I’d be fat in the winter months and not available to go! (Ridiculous, I know)

    Hopefully, this resolved easily and without hard feelings for either one of you.

    1. Author

      The band isn’t actually bad (name escapes me). But it’s one of those standing room only places, and you know, they “Go On” at 9pm, which means 11:30. I want no part of that. Last time it was Reggae, which I actually like, but I don’t like standing around waiting forever, plus every song starts to sound exactly the same.

      1. I was too old for that when I was 30…though come to think of it, my 55 yo husband will go to a local club/bar now and again if some obscure 60’s guitarist makes an appearance. But he goes alone.

  3. I totally agree that no one should have to suffer or take it personally if someone else is, for example, not interested in driving 2 hours each way to see the biggest annual Air Gun show in the state.

    I do think it’s funny that you’ve written posts about how impossible it is to buy presents for Phil and he never supplies an answer for what he’d like you to get him. It seems like this is exactly the kind of “gift” he would really want. I think he should be totally fine with you not going and you should be willing to suck it up as a gift to him to take part every now and then (this is only a few hours, correct?) in what he enjoys in life.

    BTW, the Air Gun show wasn’t bad and we did some fun antique shopping on the way home.
    Still, glad to hear you sounding happy and optimistic!

    1. Author

      Maybe 2 months ago, or 3, I don’t recall (I blocked it out), I stood through another general admission concert with him, no complaints. I danced, smiled, but MAN I wanted to leave. And I know there are times when he does the same for me. But it is torture when I’m tired, when it’s crowded, when I just want to be asleep.

      1. Well, there you go then. I’d consider that obligation fulfilled for at least a little while. We went to a show that we both wanted to see (psychedelic furs)it was on like a Wednesday night and they didn’t come out until 11:30 and we were desperately trying to stay awake on a work night. Couldn’t even have a beer or it would’ve been lights-out for me.

  4. Ahh best sentiment ever. “or not making a sweeping generalization about my love for him, from an isolated behavior.” I’ve seen entire relationships fray from demanding generalizations.

    Cheers to that and Ray Lamontagne. Mmmm. He’s amazing.

  5. My best friends mum told me that you should be best friends with your partner because when the sex is gone you still want to be able to talk to them – i personally never want the sex to go.

    But saying all that i think that being able to talk and have common interest is the best part, because you respect the person, you can trust them which makes you want to be able to talk to them and share every part of them with you, such as sex. You dont want to have sex with a person you dont know how to communicate with. So really i just contradicted myself because i think they work together.

  6. Love this post – it’s so human and real, and honest. It’s what I love so much about your writing. Thank you for sharing these moments.

  7. My girlfriend just sent me this. I’m not sure what she’s trying to tell me here. Any guesses on your part? And no, my real name isn’t Paul. Though I wonder how many other men got forwarded this post.

  8. I’ll totally go to Ray LaMontagne with you and I do think he’s coming in August. Adam is going to see Ween tomorrow night with friends. Thank god it’s a boys night out because I really have no interest in seeing Ween and Adam and his friends are super friends. Also, it gives me an excuse to road trip to Houston for a girls weekend. Yay!

  9. I feel I proved my love for my husband by going to see Zappa plays Zappa a couple of years ago. He would have felt more strongly about it if it were actually Frank Zappa, but since Dweezil got many of the original Mothers together for the gig, hubby was curious. Three plus hours of experimental rock and the clearly talented but, for me, headache-inducing long long long guitar solos of Stephen Vai….

    the only plus was this was the only concert I’ve ever been to that had absolutely no line for the ladies room, and a serious wait for the men’s.

    The ladies room bit is the story I tell about the concert now, and is pretty much all I got out of the night except for that migraine.

    But hubby is grateful, and tells everyone his classical music loving wife went to ZpZ with him, so, I guess I’d say

    -suck it up and go with Phil.

  10. Why not surprise him with two tickets to the show, and arrange for his best friend (other than you) to join him for it, too? Then give him two surprises — the show and a guys’ night out — at once!

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