“You know, you’ll always be my boyfriend.” I turned to my then new fiance’ to say those words, then looked into his face to see the look of repulsion etched on his face as if I just called him “terd-face.”
“But I don’t want to be your boyfriend. It took me this long to get you to say “yes” to being okay with me proposing. I don’t want to stay just your boyfriend. Especially when we get married. I want to be your husband. I want to have the title as your husband.”
He knew I could be a little relationship-phobic, so he had every right to react. Except he didn’t get it.
“No. You’ll still be my husband, silly. But I want you to always be my boyfriend because so many people forget
why they get married in the first place. Twenty years goes by like that,” I said with a quick snap of my fingers, “And sooner or later you forget you were ever really boyfriend and girlfriend. I don’t want that for us.”
But don’t we all kind of forget? Life bustles by. Hurt words develop leaving wounds that turn to rough callouses that would have been tended to properly right from the initial infliction if this was still the beginning.
If this was still the beginning of our relationship with our husbands where we were still his girlfriend, would we be treating him any differently? Would we stop using words as an occasional jab, meant to “correct him” and remember instead that we used to be the girlfriend who wrote him sweet notes of encouragement? Would we remember the thoughtful presents we got for him that was linked to a silly inside joke that no one would get but the two of us? Can we remember her? It may sound like she’s gone and departed ways somewhere between the “I do’s,” and the unnamed struggles that have created such fierce tension. But if she was there months to years ago, she’s still there inside of us.
You’re still his girlfriend.
And if you’re still his girlfriend, remember what that girlfriend used to do. I think I know what she used to do
because I used to be her too. She would drink that cup of coffee just to stay awake to watch that movie she hated but didn’t have the heart to tell him until months later (Tron). She would find his plaid shirts with missing buttons and pronounce him “cute” because he was a bachelor and “couldn’t do it himself.” She would say “yes” to any date opportunity. Because it wasn’t just a date when you were his new girlfriend; it was an adventure. If she heard something he said that sounded a little off, she would filter through her thoughts and return with a response that was gracious, yet truthful. And though I have gone through sickness that I’m still enduring today, I can’t use it as an excuse, at least not completely. Neither can we scapegoat kids, work, school, or anything else as reasons why we still can’t be his girlfriend.
So, can I have a dare for all of us? Can we conjure up whatever gushy notes we still have and try to remember his girlfriend? Yes, she may seem like “the other woman” at first in a not-so-weird way. Strike that, yes, maybe weird, but not in that weird way. But sometimes the perspective of us going back to our old selves and pondering what we would say to the old us is reflected on a little too much. After all, it’s not something we can truly accomplish. But our old us could talk to the us now. What would his girlfriend say to his wife? Maybe, just maybe if we can return to being his girlfriend along with being his wife, then maybe, just maybe we might see our boyfriends again.