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April 17, 2007

Why I Left My Beta Husband

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We went to see a therapist. "Don't you think I resent you for how easy it is for you?" Mark asked me during one session. "You have this great job, and I'm home like a slave, running errands, taking care of your shit, and you can't even spare me five minutes of conversation at the end of the day." I think it was the first time I'd actually listened to what he had to say in years. He said that he was angry with me for always putting work first and angry with himself for not being able to find a job. He said he didn't appreciate being treated like a nanny-slash-housekeeper- slash-gardener. But what alternatives was he offering?We separated a few months later.

In retrospect, I realized I had this preconceived idea of what a sexy, attractive man should be like. I imagined being married to, well, someone like me. Someone whose job sounds interesting to other people. Someone who walks out the door with a pressed shirt on, a leather briefcase, and a confident gait. Someone who wins bread. Does that make me a sexist? "I always felt embarrassed and guilty-you had all these ambitions for me that I felt like I wasn't living up to," Mark said to me after our divorce.

So nobody was more surprised than I was when I went ahead and fell for another stay-at-home dad.

Here's the difference, though: Jason knows what he wants-and it's not a corner office. He wants to have his afternoons free to hit the park with my daughter or paint or translate the writings of Pablo Neruda. There's nothing thwarted or self-pitying about him. When we're cooking dinner together on Friday nights in a kitchen fragrant with curry, or trying to drink coffee in bed on Sunday mornings while my daughter dances around us, I'm so attracted to him that it's all I can do not to rip his clothes off then and there.

Put it this way: Whether it's me or the fort he's holding, I think it's damn sexy.


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