Spouse Swap: A True Christmas Story

An understated little book I'm reading right now.

An understated little book I’m reading right now.

Oops. I mean spouses swapping things, not swapping spouses. Whyever would I imply sucha thing? Silly me.

Maybe it’s because I’m going to talk about hot women and porn (I am). Maybe it’s because Kurt and I recently made a permanent deal. We rarely make these. They’re kind of like postnups but they’re verbal. You can only do this when you both know that you’ll keep your word.

I’ve become addicted to working out. It doesn’t really surprise me, since I usually become an “addict” to anything remotely able to change my brain chemistry. (See my All or Nothing post for details on that.)

One of the biggest concerns I’ve had since beginning these healthier choices of exercise and food is in doing it without a partner. I’ve been using trainers, which is essential for me, because it keeps me accountable (at least on days I have training). But the most difficult part is at home. I’ve been more and more energized, and want to be outdoors more often. And when I want to go to the gym on non-trainer times, I don’t want to go alone.

Eating has been the most difficult, because I live with a well-meaning, sweet and loving enabler. He has been trying to help me, though. He takes his pop and snacks to work to eat there instead of at home. He tries to ask about dessert less. It’s not that he doesn’t want me to succeed. It’s that he can’t relate. Many people who have never been obese (yes, I pack my fat well under clothes and solidly compact body structure, but I have been clinically obese for a decade) cannot relate to the struggle of weight loss. It’s easy to mouth off “calories in/calories out” without fully appreciating that when your metabolism is low (for whatever reason) you have to work harder at keeping calories off than someone who burns through anything that enters her surprisingly large mouth (for sucha skinny cow). Oh, wait. I think I was digressing into an entirely different post.

Anyway, my wonderful husband has never been more than about 15 pounds over his ideal weight, and in the past when he wanted to drop weight, he would just give up pop for a little while until the weight melted off.

Annoying, right?

It’s both a guy thing and a metabolic thing. I remember having a metabolism as a teenager that would just piss you off. I ate large pizzas by myself, entire boxes of Crunch Berries during Saturday morning cartoons, mouth-f*cked a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream daily, and as many candybars as I could buy or beg for (dang sugar addiction).

If you’re a regular blog reader, you know from my earlier post about being a Buddhist flunkie, that my own metabolism had a chemically induced stop for six months in my early twenties. My eating habits didn’t adjust and my body has never been the same. Regardless of how my own metabolism changed, something finally snapped and I believe I’m going to die if I don’t adopt a healthier lifestyle that I can maintain for the rest of my days (well, “years” rather than “days” depending on the Mayan Apocalypse).

And despite a strong metabolism, Kurt has had increasingly higher blood pressure and cholesterol, and since his own father had a massive heart attack after a seemingly healthy weight and walking regimen, I not only worry about my own early death-by-chocolate, but about becoming a middle-aged widow.

I’ve tried so many ways to get Kurt to workout with me and go to the gym. I knew that nagging wouldn’t work. Honestly, has nagging ever worked for anybody in the history of marriage? I mean, really? (And believe me, I hear plenty of men nagging their wives, so let’s not assume that’s a one way street).

I tried pleading to his sense of health and long life but that just didn’t do it for him.

Hypothetically, I might have tried bribing him. I might have wanted him to get a personal trainer – some hot, sexy female – to motivate and inspire him. I maybe encouraged him to find one himself and train with her alone. He had no interest.

Hypothetically, and to knock out your curiosity on this – yes I might encourage my husband to look at other women. I maybe look at them too. I might be one of those annoying women who believes it’s healthy to “check out” hot women or men (we’re married, not dead). Maybe we discuss our varying levels of attraction to them (we have very similar tastes) and point them out to each other.

I might have even offered up porn as a bribe. For example, after each workout, he could pick the video and either watch it himself or with me. And yep, I maybe also think porn is a healthy thing in a good marriage. That’s a subject for another day entirely, but it’s possible I fall on the side of freedom of sexuality as empowering, not exploitative (although I may also acknowledge there are exploitative situations out there). I might believe in legalization of prostitution with the caveat that brothels are run by women, not men.

ANYHOO, NOTHING WAS WORKING!!!

Finally, although I didn’t want to offer this solution, I told Kurt if he would give me one hour of exercise a day together (a “real” workout where he sweats like a pig in heat), I would give him one hour every day of whatever one thing he picked.

I cringed and waited for it.

I thought he would pick cleaning. It’s the thing I hate most. After Dad left and my older siblings were out of the house, Mom made me take a janitorial job with her. After cleaning toilets for others, I’ve never wanted to clean at home. I know. Terrible excuse but it kind of shell-shocked me.

I was sure he was going to pick cleaning.

“Nope. Not cleaning.” He said, and grinned his sneaky little grin when he’s up to something.

Oh no. He must want me to cook for an hour! I hate cooking at all, because I never feel I know what I’m doing. And although I realize practice improves that, I have made enough absolutely awful dishes in trying to make something clever to know I don’t have a natural nose for it. That leaves me having to follow recipes to a “t” which when you have OCD is a highly stressful situation. So our daily dinners usually consist of easy crockpot recipes, cooking prepackaged foods or eating out. The terror of one hour of preparing dinner on a daily basis almost made me pass out.

“Nope. Not cooking.” He grinned more broadly.

I gave up. I had no idea what torture he could put me through that would be worth one hour of his exercise sweat, but I was ready to do it. Having a healthy husband and an exercise partner was that important to me.

“Writing.” His grin changed to a sincere smile but his eyes were practically doing a waltz (or, at least, I could now hear the Blue Danube as I looked into them).

I protested “But I write every day already. I do the blog, and I work on essays every single day.”

“Not a blog. Not an essay.” He gave me that This is the only deal I’m making with you look: “Books only. One hour. Every day. Finish one book. Send it out. Finish the second book. Send it out.”

Kurt’s motivation was…me. Not a hot trainer or porn or getting me to cook and clean the ways he has hoped I would do since we met. In the end it is the same thing I want for him: be the best and healthiest person you can be.

“Deal.” I was too choked up to say anything else. I just stared at him and tried not to turn into a blubbering idiot. I couldn’t ask for a better spouse, or a better Christmas swap ever.

Love, Marla

P.S. Here’s what I heard, looking into Kurt’s eyes…

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