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better half

We all know a couple where the disparity in attractiveness between the two halves is of note. I don’t need the difference in attractiveness between Tom and me to be that stark, but let me be frank: neither do I want it to be a close call that I am more attractive than Tom. I never want anyone to consider me the lesser half of anything, and that includes my marriage. I don’t want to be the less intelligent half, or the less funny half. I can probably take less athletic half, but even that makes me chafe a bit, because I am very good at step aerobics, and Tom is not.

Competitiveness, in general, is not a desirable trait. Competitiveness with your spouse, even less so. But it’s a trait I have, and these days, I have it in spades, because I’m feeling threatened. Tom and I started a health kick about six months ago, and while I fell off the kick in short measure, Tom actually stuck to it, and has lost almost 30 pounds in the process. When we first started the 21-day Clean Diet, I felt confident that Tom would make it 5 days, maybe 7 days, tops. Instead, it was me that folded like a cheap suit. The end, for me, looked like this: after a liquid dinner at Prasad, I walked into Little Big Burger alone and crushed a burger and fries like I hadn’t eaten in six days, which I hadn’t. I have a visceral memory of watching the line cook slowly turn the beef on the grill and talking myself out of reaching across the bar to cram the half-cooked patty in my mouth. Eating my truffle fries, I felt the shame that an addict must feel upon relapse, but alas, the deed was done.

After my collapse, I shrugged off my failure and began re-focusing all my efforts on sabotaging Tom. I began to think that I’d started him on the cleanse, and that, by God, I could take him off of it. A large part of me was incredulous that Tom could succeed at something where I had failed. But I had forgotten a key character trait of Tom, which is that he is goal-oriented in the extreme. He treated the cleanse like it was his own personal version of The Biggest Loser. Soon, the slight paunch he’d grown over years of long hours at the office melted away. So too, his late night eating. Pre-cleanse, I’d come downstairs most mornings and find my kitchen looking like it had been ransacked by a bear. No longer. Tom also started going to the gym regularly, in very tiny shorts.

As his weight got uncomfortably close to mine, everything Tom did or said became intensely annoying. Every time he asked for salad with a “squeeze of lemon,” I wanted to hurl his water glass across the restaurant. Every time he checked out his shrinking belly in the mirror, I had to physically restrain myself from kicking him in the nuts. I started baking more than usual, and when he would say “no thank you” to the fruits of my labors, I’d sulk, for hours. The more he said no, the less subtle I became:

To no avail. Tom’s still on the diet, improving himself. As for me, I’ve spent the better part of December eating one-pound bags of holiday Hershey’s Kisses and chasing the candy with fudge. I don’t want Tom to fail, exactly. I am happy that he is getting in shape and taking care of his heart. I’ve even stopped gritting my teeth at his smug demeanor when he’s denying himself something. It’s just that it’s hard when someone you live with and see every day continually improves, leaving you behind. But maybe this is how life partnerships are supposed to work. Maybe it’s not love that keeps a union going, but a mutual desire to better oneself, so that you stay ahead of the other. All I know is, January is in my sights, and Tom’s not going to know what hit him.

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17 Comments Post a comment
  1. samantha jillian #

    this is hysterical! my husband and i JUST completed day-21 of this very diet! i, too, expected my husband to crumble by, at most, the 7-day mark. but, nope, he actually EMBRACED it. and is RAVING about his results. seriously? i thought for sure i’d come out ahead – not so. i feel your pain. love your account of this.

    January 25, 2012
  2. This is hilarious! Especially –

    “Every time he checked out his shrinking belly in the mirror, I had to physically restrain myself from kicking him in the nuts”

    Do all wives think this of their athletic husbands? 🙂

    January 9, 2012
  3. Go get him, girl!

    January 8, 2012
  4. bestroastchicken #

    thanks for posting such a happy couple story with the funniest cookie. thanks for sharing

    January 5, 2012
    • angry, bitter cookie, actually. thanks for reading, chicken. 🙂

      January 8, 2012
  5. Love your writing style sista, really do!! Keep it up cause ya’ got me smiling ear to ear!!

    December 21, 2011
  6. Lucky for you, he can’t diet his way to pretty. You two compliment each other well.

    December 21, 2011
    • omg david, this is off topic but tom’s convinced they’ve already changed the lox cream cheese. can you confirm or deny?

      December 21, 2011
      • I cannot. Dude behind the counter told me that we, the customers, will not notice any changes. I’m suspicious.

        December 27, 2011
  7. Israel #

    Don’t give up yoona! My wife unsuccessfully tried to sabotage my diet several years ago, and eventually she prevailed. Now she’s the punk drinking vegetable shakes for lunch and telling me I’m a real chump because I’m so unhealthy!

    December 21, 2011
  8. Angi #

    I’m in a similar boat with Bill. His progress was initially stealthy since he does everything the “right” way as evidenced by his goal of losing two pounds a month (starting in January of 2010). He lost just under 30 pounds last year by cutting out all sweets (ALL!), walking several times a week, and reading my “girlie magazines” like Self and Fitness for metabolism boosting tricks. Though his blatant display of superiority in the willpower category annoyed me, I didn’t really become concerned until I forced him to compare calf muscles one day (and yes, mine are abnormally large) and my measurement topped his. Totally not okay.

    And though Bill hadn’t yet asked for a lemon with a salad (tell Tom not to give him any ideas), yesterday we both enjoyed a small salad at lunch. And then I ate a steak and fries while he drank water. I told him I’m going to pull out my old sorority guide to spotting anorexic behavior and force a few fries down his throat if necessary.

    Long way of saying I just identified a couple of races to train toward and Bill, too, better look out. Damn skinny men.

    December 21, 2011
  9. Esther #

    If it makes you feel any better, even the baby looks more adorable next to you than your husband.

    December 21, 2011
    • well the baby likes me better, generally. that helps. thanks for reading, esther!

      December 21, 2011

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