The shiny BMW motorcycle startled me as it rumbled into my parents' driveway and stopped beside my husband and me. In disbelief, I watched John,* a high-school boyfriend from more than 20 years ago, dismount and remove his helmet. After a confusion of hugs and handshakes, John insisted I not let his surprise visit disrupt the after-dinner walk with my family we were just beginning. Instead, he invited himself along.
Strolling through the neighborhood, my dad and children engaged John in spirited conversation while I tried to silently subdue muttered questions from my husband, Rob: "Who is this guy? Why is he here? When is he leaving?"
Married to me 15 years, Rob had no knowledge of this teenage fling. After all, high school days were long gone and besides, John and I had never gotten "serious" in our year of dating. Consequently, long before my marriage to Rob and the birth of our two children, I'd put away thoughts of John, never expecting to encounter him again, especially without warning.
Yet now, I felt surprisingly guilty for the mild attraction and intrigue surfacing in my mind after his reappearance. And I found myself hoping Rob might be jealous. It had been far too long since we shared any kind of stimulating conversation, fun, or even a simple declaration of admiration or appreciation.
Famished for Fun
Forty pounds heavier since marriage, I'd given up expecting compliments or kindness from my slim, disciplined husband. Instead, I'd learned to fend off insults, impatience, or indifference. Rob only seemed to notice my appearance after a haircut. Then he'd say, "Why did you ruin your hair? I liked it how it was before." (News to me!) If I came home from work later than he did, he'd bellow, "When are we going to eat?" My attempts to greet him with a kiss would meet rebuffs: "You have lipstick on" or "I'm too hot and sweaty. I can't hug you right now."1