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April 17, 2007

Why I Left My Beta Husband

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I felt like myself again-pitching ideas, doing the witty-banter thing in the halls with my colleagues. But my marriage started to fall apart. I felt guilty about being glad to go back to work, and in my head, I made it Mark's fault. Because he couldn't find a job, I blamed him when I was working late and had to miss the baby's bedtime; it was his fault I had to go in early every day, since the fact that he couldn't find a job meant that I couldn't afford to lose mine.And when I got home, I seethed. I couldn't walk across the living room without tripping over some plastic toy or container of wipes. The baby was in the same little nightgown she'd slept in the night before. There wasn't a hint of dinner on the horizon. He was home all day-couldn't he at least run a freaking load of laundry?

Eventually, communication between Mark and me deteriorated to the point where all we talked about was the baby. Had she gotten enough sleep? What had she eaten for lunch? How could she have run through an entire value pack of diapers in one weekend? "Wait till I tell you what she did," he'd say every once in a while, as we gazed adoringly at the baby and at each other. In those moments- watching him gently rock her to sleep while singing "Punk Rock Girl"-I was reminded why I had once thought Mark was the sexiest man in the world.But our sex life was in ruins. I chalked it up to the transition period all new parents go through. Then one day, I realized it had been almost a year since Mark and I had made love.

Sometimes he'd say, "I really think things would be better for us if we could just be intimate again." Or he'd put the baby to bed early and come into the living room with two glasses of wine and a book of poetry-our classic recipe for seduction-but just the thought of him touching me made me recoil. "Maybe I'm just not a sexual person anymore," I told him, and I honestly meant it.The truth is, I wasn't attracted to him anymore. It wasn't that he'd changed-he still had the same floppy brown hair, bright green eyes, and long freckled limbs that had literally made me quiver when I first met him. But in my head, I'd neutralized him as a sexual being. I wanted to be overwhelmed by the sheer power of his masculinity in the bedroom, but I wasn't. Because I felt like the man in our relationship.

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