Wife: We wake up and cuddle in bed, deciding what to do with the day before our houseguest arrives. Weekend adventures remind me of when we first started dating and neither of us had demanding jobs, so we’d spend entire days wandering in an unshowered haze from our favorite coffee place to our favorite Mexican joint to our favorite coffee place again and then back to bed for the afternoon.
Husband: We walk around the West Village after brunch with friends, stopping often to make out on the sidewalk. This is the neighborhood where we first fell in love. This is also the neighborhood where we separately spent our promiscuous twenties. The passage of time is palpable. For one thing, she’s pregnant.
Wife: Stop by a kids’ boutique on the way home from brunch in the West Village with friends to pick up a baby gift. He says he hates this place because it’s expensive and I “always take an hour here.” I think every time we walk into a place like this, he just sees his youth vanishing before his eyes and gets scared, even though he’s come around to this accidental-pregnancy thing. We’ve always wanted kids, we just underestimated how, um, easy it would be to make that happen.
Wife: Genuinely hoping to remind him that marriage/babies aren’t all bad, but afternoon delight thwarted by visit from a neighbor. Neighbor leaves, then husband’s brother stops by, then our houseguest arrives. We all watch Game of Thrones. I’m getting tired. Thoughts of frisky afternoon sex vanish underneath a heap of work worries.
Husband: Why are there so many people here? I’m desperate for sex.
Husband: It’s a race against time. Pregnant ladies fall asleep early. Every fifth or sixth photo on my iPhone is my wife asleep on the couch with her mouth open. Finally in bed, I remind her that I’m leaving on a work trip the next day. I crack an obvious joke about how my Neanderthal friend B says all wives should F the S out of their husbands before they go away on business because “it’s fucking common sense, dude.” We talk frankly about the impossible reality of how much more sex men need than women, and how it’s unsurprising that so many guys cheat. I explain that I already feel like I don’t get enough attention, and when the baby arrives, there will definitely be less attention—maybe none. She is apparently sympathetic to this line of reasoning because her hand drifts to my business region. She gives me a loving hand job. Feels good, even though I guilted her into it.
Wife: I sneak off to bed hoping I’m off the hook. He follows me; we chat and cuddle and spoon. I can feel on my leg that he is not exactly drifting off. Suddenly we’re having a serious talk about how he’s sad that we don’t have as much sex as we used to. I tell him, for the millionth time, that fat and work stress are sapping my libido, and that in a vacuum I would definitely want to fuck him four to five times a week. He has been spooked by marriage horror stories from longer-married friends who are forced to take care of all their own needs in the shower. He says we don’t always have to have sex sex and suggests a hand job. Halfway through I get tired, so he takes over and I talk mildly dirty to him while he finishes into his T-shirt. That wasn’t hard! Make mental note that we can definitely work this into the repertoire.
Wife: He leaves for business trip. Texts me that “Shady Grady will be home with handcuffs and a red rose from the deli tomorrow.” My husband was not in a frat, but “Shady Grady” is his frat-boy alter ego, the one who occasionally (and usually drunkenly) demands sex when I am tired. Shady Grady is also a verb, i.e., last night I was “hand-job Gradied.”
Husband: Stressed at work, trying to finish a ton of crap before leaving on an overnight work trip. Two things make me particularly needy for my wife: work stress and business travel. When she’s stressed, she’s hard to communicate with—distant and prickly. When I’m stressed, I’m the opposite—I paw at her and nuzzle her boobs like a baby animal. Here at my desk, I can’t fight the urge to text her that I love her and miss her. Soon I’m demanding she text me a pic of her new hairdo … she does, and her bangs look so hot falling over her eye.
Husband: On flight to Dallas, mindlessly flipping through the airline magazine. All of a sudden I feel myself getting … excited. Maybe it’s the sexy lady eating a cherry in this ad, or the thought of what I’ll probably do with/to myself alone in my hotel room. I think back to last night’s depressing sex conversation. There’s no way my wife will ever be able to match my sex drive. It’s an unbalanced equation. She needs the perfect circumstances to align to generate sexual appetite; I have a boner for no reason on an airplane. She keeps saying she feels fat and unsexy lately, but what she doesn’t understand is that married guys who are busy don’t have time to worry about that kind of superficial shit. We’re either getting laid or we’re not. If my wife is willing to have sex with me, I’m ready to go.
Wife: Enjoy blissful night alone on the couch cruising Craigslist for furniture, FaceTime-ing with my sister, making kale juice with my juicer, and going to bed early to read Martha Stewart Living. Every marriage should offer one night off a week to do things like this.
Wife: Brainstorm impromptu surprise to greet hubby when he returns from his business trip at 10 p.m. Decide to make him dinner and greet him wearing a negligee instead of the matching striped pajamas that I’ve been living in since I got pregnant.
Wife: He texts me, “To prove my commitment to repelling other women, I’m heading out for the day sans deodorant.” This is because we’ve run out of our shared Dove stick, so he couldn’t take it on his trip.
Wife: His brother’s having lady problems, so I invite him over to help eat the dinner I’m making, since hubby will be home so late anyway. Then I collapse on the couch to play Words With Friends for just a minute and promptly lose my will to cook. I trudge to our local taco shop. Hubby will like this better than white beans and kale anyway.
Husband: We miss each other and tonight has potential to be one of those special, magic nights. I just want to rush straight home. But when I walk in the door, I find that my brother has dropped by. They are eating tacos. It becomes clear that sex is impossible.
Wife: He finally gets home; his brother’s still here, so I am not in negligee. This is okay, as he is sans deli rose. One time, when we first started dating four years ago, he greeted me after I returned from a work trip with homemade chocolate soufflé, and I blew him right there in his kitchen. Times have changed.
Husband: Six months ago, I would have Gradied her when we got to bed, but Shady Grady doesn’t operate on pregnant ladies. That just feels wrong.
Wife: The alarm rings; before we press snooze, he tells me he dreamed someone was trying to kill me, and he sliced open their belly. Some Freudian pregnancy shit going on there.
Husband: She claims to have gas, so instead of doing it, we cuddle for a few minutes and dry-hump.
Wife: Tonight we plan to hang out all evening and watch TV, just the two of us. Unfortunately, this type of pressure-filled romantic situation tends to give my horniness stage fright. By ten, he’s given up hope and is saying, facetiously, “So how about we take a shower and then I pleasure you? What, sooo 2009?” Meanwhile I’m shoving my foot in his face and telling him to rub it. He says it smells like cheese. Spurred on by an article in a men’s magazine, we’ve recently discussed incorporating more bartering into our relationship. He says one blow job will get me the “bathtub candlelight package,” i.e., a fifteen-minute foot rub in the bathtub followed by 45 minutes of full-body massage. I agree this is a great way for us both to get more of what we want. Unfortunately, eating my pad Thai and half of his has left me unable to perform a blow job tonight for fear of throwing up.
Husband: To my count, there have been exactly two BJs since the end of our honeymoon two years ago. She recently told me about an article she read where a woman openly uses sex to incentivize her husband to do household chores. I believe this to be a terrible idea. Doesn’t commoditizing sex kill a relationship?
Wife: Hubby is up early; why am I so attracted to him when he’s busy at work and doesn’t have much time for me? I make him an English muffin with jam. Few things make me feel more gratified than sending him off to work with a healthy breakfast. Despite the fact that I also now have a stressful job, marriage has awakened retro-feeling desires, like the need to feed my husband vegetables, and chase him around with a lint roller, and build him up after a stressful day. I think I could be completely fulfilled doing this full time.
Husband: Whenever I’m on my way to work after a night of unsuccessful sexual overtures, I look at women on the subway and think, I bet that woman would like to have sex with me. On a day like this, they don’t even have to be hot. I can mentally undress anyone who looks at me the right way. Uptight Upper East Side ladies in suits, plump Eastern European women … In the spring and summer, there is just so much skin everywhere; it’s constant.
Wife: At the office, I procrastinate by surfing mommy blogs and fantasizing about watching him coach our daughter’s softball team someday. I picture him wearing a Baby Björn as we cruise around our neighborhood, looking all sexy-unshaven-Brooklyn-dad-like. We have our problems, but at least once a week I still look at him and think, I can’t believe this man is my husband.
Wife: Grab dinner with a friend; am hoping hubby will join, but he works until eleven. We walk the dog late at night and smooch; he later makes halfhearted attempts to fool around, but luckily we both drift off before I have to exert any effort.
Wife: Mad housecleaning because his mother is in town tonight to take us to a Broadway show. Hubby is not bothered at all by thick layer of dog hair that accumulates on our green rug after two days of no vacuuming. If I didn’t deal with it, we’d be wading in it. He also leaves his dirty socks all over the apartment. When I say things like, “Bubba, would you like your own hamper over by your closet to make it easier to put your socks in it each night?” he tells me, “This is how the magic dies.”
Husband: We have tickets to a show, and we meet at a restaurant before heading uptown. I am the first person to the restaurant. This is newsworthy, because I always used to be late. And jobless. Now I’m the first guy here, on my way to Broadway with my pregnant wife and my mom. How did I get here?
Wife: Dinner with his mother. He’s wearing his new slim-fit shirt from Brooks Brothers and carrying a briefcase; he looks ridiculously sexy. When I met him, he owned zero dress shirts.
Husband: Home from the show, I try to seduce my wife, but she’s reading a magazine. She’s always reading a magazine.
Wife: Collapse on couch with a magazine. He says, “Pay attention to me.” One of his pet peeves is when I read a magazine and ignore him—and one of mine is when he grabs the magazine away from me and says, “Pay attention to me.” I continue ignoring him. He grabs the magazine away. I’m annoyed until he takes off my boots and rubs my feet. We go to bed, both too tired for sex.
Husband: We get up early and wander through the neighborhood, fully aware that in a matter of months, 10 a.m. will no longer be “early.” And our lives will be over. Just kidding. Kind of. Before we get out of bed, I make a move, but she doesn’t want to put out. It’s partially because our houseguest is back, asleep on the couch outside our door. Before bouncing out of bed, my wife also admits to not being able to remember the last time she showered.
Wife: Dinner in the city with a few other couples. Hubby gets drunk. I order carrot juice.
Wife: Home late, I am feeling very frisky after a week (two weeks?) of no sex, but he is drunk. We roll around in bed for a while. He seems to be drifting off. Typical. Our libidos are ships passing in the night. I attempt to rouse him with a blow job. Success! Soon we’re having sex. Halfway through, he gets stressed out about all the work he has to do tomorrow and offers to just finish me off manually. I am extremely loud (one of the best features of our apartment is that our bedroom doesn’t border another apartment), so he gets turned on again, and we end up having crazy loud sex, this time to completion. I know I should step up and have sex with him more often even if I’m not completely feeling it, but I am all for quality over quantity.
Husband: I am wasted … probably too wasted. And she chooses now, of all times, to be in the mood. In addition to the booze and an enormous amount of work anxiety, I’ve also started to feel the presence of someone else in the room with us. Someone very tiny. But my wife won’t take no for an answer. So I gallantly stick it to her. The truth is, sex isn’t that different when she’s pregnant. Maybe I worry more about hurting her. I definitely worry that this is the beginning of the end.