Archive for April 16th, 2007

By Laurie L.

He turned to me as we approached the driveway of the cozy bed and breakfast just outside of Torrey, Utah, and said, “Oh, by the way, your name is Patty.”


“When I was making the reservations the guy asked for my wife’s name, so I naturally said Patty.”


I had to remember to be Patty for the next three days.

Traveling with someone else’s husband has its challenges, some easier to handle than others. I‘ve learned never – ever – to pick up the phone in a hotel room. I’m careful when checking in for a flight together, having found that the chances of my name being on his baggage claim ticket are about 99 to 1.

I’ve also learned to avoid cozy bed and breakfasts, where the guests like to chat over breakfast and the owners feel a need to get to know you. They tend to like sending Christmas cards inviting “you and your lovely wife” back next year.

When I tell women friends about my relationship, they usually lean over, look me in the eye and ask sympathetically: “So, do you think he’ll ever leave his wife?” I look at them like they’re crazy, as if to say, ” Now, why would I want him to do that?”

Being a wife is not nearly as much fun.

These same friends also roll their eyes when I tell them that I believe he has a good, solid marriage. He has never tried the “my wife doesn’t understand me” bit, partly because, well, she does, and partly because this isn’t about her. We take the French approach – there are wives and there are mistresses and one need not cancel out the other.

Living together inevitably breeds minor (or major) annoyances, that a man and his mistress have no time to nurture. You never lose one of his socks in the dryer, because you don’t do his laundry. And just think, you never have to look for excuses not to spend Christmas with his mother. (Of course, on the down side, you can forget about ever spending his birthday, or New Year’s Eve with him, though there’s always your birthday.)

I haven’t told too many people about my relationship – more to protect him than me. I’m often reluctant to bring it up, thinking people will be shocked – or disgusted. But most often, I’m surprised to find complicity, confessions from the least-expected sources that they, too, have been – or are – involved with a married man.

A few weeks ago I asked a friend, a writing teacher, for some help. I’ve been working on my first novel (which, like most first novels, is based far too much on real life) and I was stuck. I didn’t know where to go with the story. She asked how I saw my real-life situation ending. Her question blew me away.

“I never thought of it,” I told her. It was true. I can imagine us going on like this til death do us part. I can imagine me getting married again, even him getting divorced and remarried, and still, us continuing the way we are.

The only reason I can see for ending things would be if his wife (who’s decidedly not French) found out and insisted we stop seeing each other. I have no doubt he’d choose her over me.

But I’m not complaining. The pleasures far outweigh the inconveniences. Especially when I remember what a friend said to me the other day, succinctly summing up her own experience with a long-distance lover.

“You know how it is,” she said with a knowing smile. “You have great sex and eat.”


After graduating college as a French major, Laurie L. moved to Paris “for six months” — and stayed for almost 27 years, before moving to Washington DC in 2004. During the day she works as a writer/editor in the field of international development, but her real passions are traveling and writing personal essays — with an occasional foray into fiction. She has studied with Natalie Goldberg and believes that Writing Practice — aside from being a lot of fun — is an essential part of the writing process.

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