Nancy Roman

Bad Wife

When I was a little girl, I lived in a pretty crowded house. Mom and Dad, two sisters, one brother, and Grandma – all in a two bedroom apartment, in a two-family house with my cousins downstairs. Privacy was rare.

Sooner or later (I think when my brother doing his math homework in his crib), Dad finished a little attic apartment for Grandma, and she moved upstairs. The best thing about Grandma’s place was the little enclosed staircase constructed as an emergency exit. Like Nancy Drew’s hidden staircase. You could access the steps from the back of Grandma’s bedroom closet, and they ended up on our back porch.

I quickly found a way to pry up the inside latch on the porch door, so I could secretly access those stairs. I’d sit there in the dry heat or freezing cold. A bit of light filtered in and the dust would dance around. It was quiet. I was alone. I was very happy there.

When I was a teenager we moved to a nice-sized house, and I had a room of my own.

My roommate in college traveled quite a bit, and I had more privacy than most dorms residents. Not too bad. But after one year post-college with a difficult (fussy, but not in an endearing way) roommate, I moved to a place of my own.

And I was on my own for the next fifteen years.

Then I acquired a husband.

After so many years alone, it wasn’t easy. I kept waiting for him to go home. But he was home.

But I love him, and I got used to it.

I am an excellent wife. A saint really, as I have recounted numerous times.

But there are some bits about cohabitation that are just not my favorite bits.

– Like breathing.

Specifically, I have never liked the feeling of someone else’s breath on my skin. I remember a teenage boyfriend breathing gently in my ear, hoping to get me in the mood.  I got in the mood to go home.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of my husband’s big warm strong body next to me in bed. I just don’t like that little draft. (That goes for you too, Merlin. Cat breath is not welcome.)

– Like dirty laundry.

I don’t like touching someone else’s dirty clothes. Luckily, my husband does his own laundry. (I hate bleach; he hates fabric softener. A match made in separate-load-heaven, if you ask me.) But sorting sort of grosses me out. So, last year, as we hit our twentieth anniversary, I treated myself to my own hamper. “Why do we need this?” he asked. “So you don’t accidentally bleach my underwear,” I said. (and so I don’t have to touch yours, I didn’t say.)

-Like channel-surfing.

I don’t like anyone else to control the remote. If I feel like watching three programs at once, that’s because I can multi-task. Other people channel surf because they have no attention span. And some (who shall be nameless) people’s timing is so awful that we are channel surfing from commercial to commercial.

And while I am at it… I don’t like comments, either, when I am watching a show. I was shushing folks in the movies when I was still in kindergarten.

-Like body sounds.

I don’t care for throat-clearing, stomach growling, nose-blowing, or farts. It’s natural, I know. Cut it out.

I also don’t like sharing my own body sounds. I am as close to perfect as a woman can get, but I do have one tiny bad habit. I crack my knuckles. When I go to bed at night, I like to give every one of my finger joints and nice relaxing pop. Having someone in bed with me puts a crimp in my crimping.

-Like illness.

I know, I know. I said, “In sickness and in health”.

The thing is… I didn’t really mean it.

I don’t have any patience for someone else’s flu, or headache, or sprained ankle. And believe me, I tried. I actually was in nurses’ training for a semester after high school. I was bored. And if you’re sick, I’m still bored.  And annoyed.

When I am sick, I like to be alone. I crawl into bed and hibernate until I emerge all better. If I just have a cold, and have to work anyway, I take some medicine, and keep a low profile.

But some people (also nameless) want sympathy. Boy, have you come to the wrong place.

I’m not talking life-threatening illness. I just mean the trivial aches and pains that we all occasionally have to live with. Live with it.

Don’t misunderstand.

I love my husband. I love marriage. I love companionship. I love intimacy.

But just not all the intimacy.

Like breathing.



  1. this post should be in all marriage preparation programs. i think it’s my favorite post of yours…..until my next favorite post.


    • Thanks. I was a little afraid that it portrayed me in a bad light, which of course I would never want to do. But I figured a few (million) women might secretly feel the the same way….


  2. Michelle Gillies

    Great post! I have to wonder if your “who shall be nameless” is related to my “he who shall remain nameless for his own protection”? We actually just call him “He-Who” now as it has been pointed out that we are on a first name basis…for the time being.


    • I think most men are interchangeable. They only come in one variety.


  3. ’bout covers it all I would say.



  4. You and I could be sisters, I think spouses should live elsewhere.


    • That’s a terrific idea. I always said that I wanted to marry a travelling salesmen, who would only stop by for the weekend. Then I married someone in phone sales – and he was always home.


  5. Or maybe we’re sisters-from-another-mother? Or you’re married to my husband, who is also aware of my adoration of him and my abhorrence of all of the above. You will find an abundance of women nodding enthusiastically with this post!!! 🙂


  6. and snoring! That should be banned! It’s grounds for separate bedrooms!


  7. I hear you. I always wonder why people are so keen on having an en suite bathroom. Why have all those natural bathroom sounds closer to your bed?!


  8. Ha! Amen, Nancy! I refused to live with my boyfriend-now-husband unless we had two floors of living space. Even our apartment had two floors – and he does his own laundry! Of course, he empties his pockets on the dryer top, and never clears it, but that’s another story (you didn’t mention your husbands boxes/hoarding magazines here, but I know it’s on your list, too LOL)! I mean, he even empties pocket change right next to his coin bank! RIGHT NEXT TO IT.


    • He empties his pockets into his top drawer. I NEVER look in that drawer.


  9. love your honesty – we have a lot of the same, errr—hangups


  10. Nancy, would it be ok if I had a giant poster made of your picture to put above our laundry hamper? Not for any particular reason, of course… except that it’s about the most profound truism of marriage I’ve ever seen!


    • Be my guest. Reaching in the hamper is just plain gross.


  11. homework in his crib….too funny.
    Great post. I lover your humor.


  12. You cracked me up. This should be given to all newlyweds…like premarital counseling.


  13. I don’t like breathing on me either. Ick. And I really don’t like picking someone else’s hair out of the shower drain — okay, it’s usually mine. But yet my cats’ hair doesn’t bother me one bit. Why is that?


  14. i want to know who does like breathing on them? Because someone must like it. Not me. I would sleep inside a plastic bubble if I could swing it.


  15. You’re just lucky he is not using a c-pap machine. That dang thing blows a steady stream of air straight out either into my face or at the back of my neck. Then feelings are hurt when I sleep in another room. Heck, I thought I was being kind by not making HIM sleep in the other room.


    • OMG, we are married to the same guy! He DOES use a c-pap machine. And I thought feeling someone’s breath is uncomfortable. The machine is a GALE. Luckily the cat loves it and breaks the stream.


  16. Ugh. Even thinking about someone breathing on me makes my skin crawl. I can’t stand it. I have proposed for years that we get a duplex and he could live on one side and I would live on the other – but he won’t go for it. I can’t stand people in my bathroom or kitchen. Can’t stand listening to someone else’s music choices, and … oh, hell – everything you said.


    • I knew a couple who were high school sweethearts. They got apartments in the same building, and ‘visited’ each other, but never married. They were still together at their 50th high school reunion. I could relate.


  17. I love my boyfriend too, but I’ve already made it clear when we move out together that I want my own bedroom. I’ve spent most of my life alone, in my own private space, and even though I genuinely enjoy his company and snuggling and all that, there are a lot of times when I just need my personal space. Unfortunately, whenever you mention sleeping separately, or doing anything separately from your SO for that matter, people tend to get very sadfaced and guilt-trippy. It’s annoying.


  18. Is there a better way? I haven’t come across one but if you do….

    Another fabulous post…


  19. I wrote a similar post this week–my daughter said I came across a little bitchy. I thought I was a little funny.
    I LOVE the duplex idea or the apts in the same building. A friend of mine wants to start a retreat center just for women who are looking for some alone time and space. I think it would be full all the time!


    • I like your post…. you are NOT bitchy. Perhaps this is “Annoying Husband Week”. Anyway, as a further coincidence, I just this morning saw this quote from Katharine Hepburn:
      “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”


  20. I think you probably just voiced what 99% of the wives out there feel – including me.


  21. I am the envy of all my friends, because we have a lovely house on a lake in New Hampshire and a small cottage (with low ceilings that the menfolk don’t really like) in Connecticut. I think we spend about 4 nights a week together. I love my little cottage, and the 4 hour drive each way is worth it…


  22. Hi Nancy I get such a kick out of your blog, it’s just fantastic! I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award and if you are interested pop over to my homepage and see what that entails and if you accept you can nominate your favourites for it.
    xx melanie


    • Thanks for the nomination. I love to make someone laugh.


  23. Terrific and funny!


  24. This post was wonderfully and funny and too, too true. My husband (who I also met ‘last in life’ and who I love dearly) does this little ‘out breath’ that sounds like ‘pooh’ when he sleeps – and with each ‘pooh’ comes a little wisp of breath onto my face or my shoulder. It makes me NUTS. Funny enough, he also does his own laundry (although I hadn’t thought about separate laundry baskets – thanks – I HATE sorting through his smelly socks) and I solved the personal sounds problem by assigning him the ‘downstairs’ (i.e., basement) bathroom (the en suite is mine, and mine alone!) He doesn’t channel surf but he does talk/comment during shows and I’m constantly ‘shushing’ him; he does a sort of ‘silent’ complaining (moaning, groaning and waiting for sympathy) when he has an ache or pain (I usually manage a small ‘you poor thing’ and then find somewhere to escape to). I think maybe we’re married to clones! Thanks for providing my laugh for the day!


    • We are all married to CLONES! I have said it before – while there are many different kinds of women, men only come in one variety. They are pretty much all the same guy.


      • Maybe we should have speaks with the “Universal Designer” about a few upgrades/improvements!



  25. I love an honest person. Funny and honest and still in love. Good for you. That whole close breath thing, I get it. hmmm We worked it out. I have to be the one breathing on the back of his neck. He kinda likes it. Whatever.



  1. Let’s Put It In Context « notquiteold

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