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The Weekend Wife




My friend, Sebastian, has a Weekend Wife. It wasn’t always so. When he was married for the first time, he had a traditional marriage. Like most of us, when Sebastian and his wife-to-be first met, things were romantic, lovey-dovey, passionate. Then came the family: two children, neatly spaced apart by a few years. Sebastian doted on them but you could tell things had changed between Sebastian and his spouse. Things were no longer very lovey-dovey. I remember calling Sebastian and he would whisper things to me on the phone like, “I can’t talk now, I’m busy cleaning the kitchen floor.” Then I would hear a voice in the background: “Who are you talking to? Don’t you know you have work to do?” Our conversation would be cut short.

Well, Sebastian struggled on for years and finally the two of them split up. He moved on to become the partner of a wealthy woman who liked to pay for his meals and buy him clothes. To an outsider like me, that seemed like heaven. But my friend Sebastian was looking for more than the leisurely life of a Kept Man. And he found it, when he met his Weekend Wife-to-Be. This was the real thing, he said, even though she was married (separated) and had two teenage children. (I vaguely remembered he had been really in love with both of his previous women before things went south – but, then, how is that any different from the rest of us?) Sebastian liked a challenge, too: the new love interest lived in another state. Oh, it wasn’t a New York-New Jersey kind of thing. No, no. It was a New York-D.C. commute. Four hours or so. But that didn’t matter to Sebastian: he was in bliss, taking the bus to see her every weekend. “Long-distance relationships are a bitch,” I’d say to him. “Yeah,” Sebastian would admit. But secretly, I think he loved it.

I soon realized that Sebastian had hit upon the secret of success in a relationship, a way to maintain the romance and avoid the pitfalls. The Weekend Wife. Remember all those movies where the hero and heroine part for months at a time, swearing undying love until they meet again? Most notably, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember, the classic romantic tearjerker. I’m sure that once Cary and Deborah settled down forever, their lives together would become one humdrum Affair to Forget as Cary, the henpecked husband ran errands for Deborah, the get-things-done wife. No romance is forever. But Sebastian, who soon married his long-distance sweetheart, seemed to have found the secret of success: spend five days to yourself, working relaxing, living your own life, talking romantically to your weekend wife every night for 30 minutes or so (interlacing your comments with words like “darling” and “dearest” and “baby doll” – words that leave your lexicon after a about the first year of a long-term relationship). Then on the weekends, you’d take a trip up to see her and bang: every weekend is a honeymoon – you’d talk about how much you missed her, how gorgeous she looked, and it was Weekend at the Waldorf and Honeymoon Suite each time. And then when Monday rolls around, you’d go back to your life, leaving behind your Weekend Wife where she would miss you (and you her). As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Sebastian had certainly hit on a successful solution… Was there some way, I wondered, that we could apply this solution to our jobs, or our families, or our other relationships? Weekend Work, I thought to myself. Now there’s a concept. Oh, wait a minute – in this hold-onto-your-jobs at any cost recession, we have that already, don’t we? That’s no fun. Back to the drawing board.

July 5, 2010