In every relationship, if we’re honest, there’s usually one person who's more dominant and tends to take charge, while the other is happy to follow. Although sometimes those roles can reverse, the bossy trophy stays shiny and polished primarily on one partner’s shelf.
In my relationship with my husband, that person would be me.
My husband doesn’t like conflict, is relatively easy-going and, as long as we aren’t spending too much money (he's super cheap), will pretty much say yes to anything. I, on the other hand, am not afraid to say no or speak up when I’m not happy, have particular quirks and well-developed preferences, and get really bored doing the same-old, same-old. Naturally, that means my husband usually lets me pick what we do and when we do it.
Yup, even that. (I know you thought it, you dirty bird.)
After 18 perfect, harmonious years of marriage (I’m totally lying, but anyone who’s been married this long already knows that), I thought it would be fun to see what would happen if, for a whole weekend, I turned over all control to my husband and became, to my great disdain, a yes-woman.
However, as a form of subtle resistance, I didn’t actually tell my husband my plan. I didn’t want him to suggest utterly crazy shit, like watching sports or me giving him an hour-long full-body massage. All I did was wake up one Saturday morning and decide to say yes to everything he said, whether I actually meant it or not.
“Do you want me to make you something for breakfast?” my husband sweetly asked that morning while we sipped our coffee. The experiment was already working in my favor.
“Yes!” I enthusiastically replied. When he asked me what I wanted, I followed with, “Whatever you’d like to make, sweetie.”
Maybe this experiment wouldn’t be torture, after all.
An hour later, while chewing the last of my homemade breakfast burrito, my husband pulled the asshole card.
“You want to go for a walk and get some exercise?”
If anyone knows me, they know I hate the word "exercise." It fills me with visions of Richard Simmons in an awkwardly tight leotard, sweating and bouncing to annoying pop music with a garish smile on his face.
Every part of me wanted to say no. I wanted to digest my bacon-fat-fried potato-filled burrito in peace, with an episode of "Luke Cage" on the TV pumping cortisol into my blood, which is basically a cardio workout.
“Yes,” I said, instead.
There we were, at 10:15 a.m., walking in the sunshine and fresh air, with me hating every last second of it.
“I think we should go somewhere,” my husband suggested. “Get away for the weekend, just you and me.”
THIS sounded much better. I pictured a cozy spa in wine country, or maybe a swanky hotel in L.A., where we’d sip fancy cocktails and maybe catch a comedy show.
“I was thinking Big Bear. We could even bring the tent,” he said.
Lady boner officially flaccid. “Um, yeah, sure,” I managed to stutter.
Once we returned, my husband got to work in the garage tracking down our ancient camping gear. Thankfully, he realized our tent poles had long ago rusted through and were unusable.
“Darn!” I lied. “What can we do instead?”
“Let’s just get in the car and drive,” was his answer. Knowing I was safe from a night of camping in the sticks, I gladly agreed.
Photograph by Bryanne Salazar
Two hours later, we were in Big Bear cruising the busy streets, trying to find a place to stay. Just our luck, nearly all the hotels and motels were booked solid due to two events happening in town that weekend.
Desperate, my husband called a “rustic” lodging facility that, luckily, had a single cabin available.
“It’s got a hot tub right in the room,” my husband said, weirdly excited. Oh god. I knew what that look in his eyes meant. Hot tub sex may sound romantic, but when you’re thirty pounds overweight like I am, it actually sounds like missionary impossible.
Photograph by Bryanne Salazar
After dining at the grocery store (like I said earlier, he’s cheap) and grabbing a few beers at a local pub, we headed back to our cabin to steam up the windows.
I plastered a smile on my face but I was dreading what was coming (pun intended). We’d grabbed a bottle of bubble bath from the store and when my husband asked me to add it to the water; I dumped in the whole bottle.
As I expected, maneuvering around the tub was like wrestling in an airplane bathroom. We kept kneeing each other, slipping, flopping and sliding around. Not my finest hour.
Eventually, my hubby moved our romance to a more appropriate area of the cabin and we conjugated for the next seven hours. (My husband’s edit—and not entirely true, once you deduct 6 hours and 45 minutes of sleep.)
In the morning, my husband whipped up a small feast before we packed up and checked out of our love den. On the way out of town, my husband pulled out a map and showed me a trail he’d found.
“Want to go for a short hike before we leave?” he asked.
No. But, of course, I said yes anyway.
We hiked Pineknot Trailhead, which was basically an entirely upward sojourn into the deep forest. Although I had to stop often and catch my breath, it was sort of magical up there with my husband. There were few other people on the trail path and for a short window of time, I realized what life might be like in the next few years, when our sons move away and start their own adult lives.
Photograph by Bryanne Salazar
“I had fun with you this weekend,” I told my husband once we reached the summit.
“Yeah, me too,” my husband replied. “You’ve been a lot more fun than usual,” he added.
We drove home, stopping along the way to get his beloved Vietnamese pho and making it home just in time to catch the football game.
“You want to watch with me?” he offered, while patting the couch seat beside him.
I thought it over for a second, and knew that in the spirit of my experiment, I had to say yes.
“Nope. Not even a little. Love you!” I replied instead.
Let’s face it, I may be down for some sloppy, slippery sex in a hot tub, but even I have standards. Thus my experiment ended, with the newfound realization that I can totally hand the reins over to my husband once in awhile and still have a good time.