When your friends lust after your partner
"The idea that other women might find him attractive really hadn’t occurred to me at all."
The other day, I heard some news about my husband that surprised me an awful lot.
“Oh my god your husband’s hot,” a female friend said to me. And then - before I could check that she was talking about the right husband – she pointed straight at him and added, “I would do him for sure.”
I nearly fell over (and not just because we’d had a couple of drinks). My husband is hot? Really? I mean... it’s not that I don’t consider my husband to be attractive. He obviously does something for me or I wouldn’t have married him. But I kind of assumed that my man was uniquely to my taste. The idea that other women might find him attractive really hadn’t occurred to me at all.
Now, I knew that women in my husband’s office flirted with him occasionally – one has even been known to bring him cupcakes when he’s stressed - but he’s their boss, so it doesn’t count. I just presumed they were responding to that ‘Man of Power’ aura he has at work, rather than any intrinsic raw sexuality.
I found the idea that my friend found my husband attractive to be pretty funny, which in turn made me feel guilty. Shouldn’t I expect other people to be attracted to him, given that I find him attractive myself (on good days)? Was I a bad wife for finding the whole thing a bit hilarious?
Well, if I am a bad wife, then I’m certainly not the only one. I conducted a (most unscientific) study on my Facebook page and it yielded fascinating results. When asked what their reaction would be to someone fancying their spouse, most people answered ‘amused’ or ‘surprised’. (One lone respondent wrote ‘Relieved! Take her already!’ but I choose to think he was joking).
‘Amused’ or ‘surprised’ that someone finds your spouse attractive? Oh lord. That’s hardly a rousing endorsement for marital lust.
Still, it’s not exactly shocking. After all, marriage is all about intimacy, and intimacy can lead to the stifling of sexual desire. I mean, my husband may be very appealing, but he’s family, and the truth is that family just isn’t sexy.
In her bestselling book, Mating In Captivity, Esther Perel explains how the very closeness that brings a married couple together can sound the death knell of their sexual desire for each other. Love, she argues, is about having, but desire, on the other hand, is about wanting, so how can you want what you already have?
One technique she recommends to get the desire back is to flirt with others, so that each spouse becomes aware of their own, and their partner’s, power to attract. And I can see her point. Perhaps if I regularly saw women looking longingly at my husband then I would appreciate his powerful sex appeal more. (And, possibly, be able to write the words ‘his powerful sex appeal’ without giggling.)
Lyn Fletcher, Communications Director of Relationships Australia, agrees. She believes that having the opportunity to see your partner through someone else’s eyes can have a positive impact on a relationship. The knowledge that other people find your spouse attractive can remind you that they are desirable again, and help you to remember why you fell in love with them in the first place.
Of course, as Lyn warns, not all flirting is equal. “There is a difference between the kind of flirting that says ‘I’m interested’ and the kind of flirting that says ‘I’m available’”, she said. “The first can be totally innocent and quite general. The second is very threatening to a marriage.”
Well, my husband didn’t engage in any kind of flirting, so I really wasn’t threatened at all. And once I managed to stop laughing, I did look at him with fresh eyes. I mean, I still saw the man who had woken me up at three in the morning blowing his nose like a trumpet, but I also saw the nineteen year old boy I first fell for. And I realised that – despite the arguments over money and the boxer shorts on the floor – I still kind of fancied him.
So to my friend who finds him ‘hot’, thank you. You’ve done a good thing. And I think your husband is pretty cute, too.