From Wife to Partner

We reconnected on such a deep level that night, it was passionate, tender, and spiritual. It was all the fireworks and floating heart balloons you could dream of. We were both experiencing something we hadn’t felt in a long time, desire and bliss.

From Wife to Partner
Photo by Elahe Motamedi / Unsplash

I caught myself doing something new the other day, I introduced myself and my partner to another couple.

I said, “This is my partner, S, and I’m Tom. Pleased to meet you.

You might read that and say, “he didn’t call her his wife, what’s the big deal?”

On the surface, the two terms may seem interchangeable but below the surface, it was a major shift for me.

She thought that marriage was a bad deal for women.

I made a conscious point to introduce my wife as my partner. That’s a huge step in my thinking of relationship dynamics. It’s more of an egalitarian approach which under my monogamous relationship with her has changed our lives for the better.

Kids, Housework, Life, WTF?

I was traveling with a colleague to a customer site in Toronto back in late 2019. This was pre-Covid and I was on a plane at least once a week back then. Sometimes I’d joke that I was ‘bi’, bicoastal that is.

My colleague was a single woman in her 40’s and on top of her game professionally. She had a rich social life and was financially secure. The only thing that she wanted was to find a man to have a relationship with. She dated many men but nothing panned out for her.

Sex started to dwindle between us but we kept going because that’s what you do in a marriage.

One night we were in a fancy restaurant, doing a post mortem on a presentation we gave when she confided in me. She thought that marriage was a bad deal for women. Men seemed to benefit more from marriage and women get stuck with child-rearing, household chores, and all the drudgery.

I was a Momma’s boy and when I moved out to New Mexico…

She was seriously considering NOT looking for marriage anymore but spending her time with her other single girlfriends living life to the fullest. The old saying is true. Girls just want to have fun, and I didn't blame her!

I sat there and listened, taking it all in.

I thought about everything she said on the flight home. I looked at my marriage and realized that I was selfish. My partner carried most of the domestic load while I just skated through life. I wondered if that was a reason why our love life was dwindling, why we were out of sync and heading toward oblivion.

That realization hit me like a ton of bricks and I spent the next few months in self-introspection.

A Bachelor's Apartment

I love my mother but she did everything for me. She did my laundry, cooked my meals, took care of everything. That was her upbringing and the cultural expectations from the Fatherland. I was a Momma’s boy and when I moved out to New Mexico I had to learn how to do all those things by myself.

The first couple of months were bumpy as I learned to work full-time and manage my life. Then I got a girlfriend and I had to juggle spending time with her and keeping my apartment in order.

I spent my time keeping a clean and presentable apartment, working as a professional, and getting my shit together. I was living on my own and realized that juggling all these activities was hard but those 5 years were amazing years of growth for me.

Eventually, I moved back to New Jersey and met my partner a short time later.

We got married, bought a house, had my daughter, and all worked full-time. Then my son came along and we raced around like frantic hamsters on speed. The first 10 years of our life together were hectic and we squabbled a lot.

Our squabbles turned into fierce blowouts. In the heat of the moment, we screamed the “D” word, divorce.

Sex started to dwindle between us but we kept going because that’s what you do in a marriage. You work things out and we did, but the sex kept dwindling.

I resigned myself to the patterns I learned from my parents and thought this was as good as it gets. This was marriage.  You traded desire for security and building a life together.

I was never so fucking wrong in my life.

That Was Some Good Sex

My partner shouldered the bulk of the domestic labor in those years. She did it because she needed to get it done and I was a selfish prick about it. I didn’t realize that she started to resent me.

Our squabbles turned into fierce blowouts. In the heat of the moment, we screamed the “D” word, divorce.

Afterward, we’d apologize and professed our love for each other but what was going on between us didn’t sit well with me. This wasn’t how marriages were supposed to work, right?

This problem nagged at me until I made the connection on that flight back home, I needed to make changes and be open with her.

So why should I dump the responsibility of making all that happen on her and her alone?

I needed to have a conversation with my wife and listen, let her vent, and take the hits. I needed to atone for my past sins.

We had that conversation and many more after. She felt like I was listening to her but was skeptical, I would be too. So I started just doing things instead of asking her, “what should I do?” I picked up the dirty laundry, washed it, folded it, and put it away.

I took an online cooking class and started making family meals. I cleaned up clutter and kept the house tidy. I did all the things I did when I lived in New Mexico but not because I had to, because I wanted to and because it was the right thing to do.

I want to live in a clean house. I want to have clean clothes. I want to eat healthy food. So why should I dump the responsibility of making all that happen on her and her alone?

We were both experiencing something we hadn’t felt in a long time, desire and bliss.

I stepped up. I read books and I took an active role in our relationship. I strived to do better, better than before. Be a better man and a better partner.

It was that word, partner, that made me realize something profound. In my mind a partnership means the division of labor is egalitarian and you are responsible to keep your end of the ‘bargain.’ The term wife to me was classic Judeo-Christian prison for women, and I have such big a problem with that.

Why did I let the Judeo-Christian mindset affect my life? I don’t know, maybe it was my upbringing, maybe I was lazy, maybe it was 100 different excuses but I had the power to change it all.

After many months of working on this, fucking it up, and having to start over again, something happened.

I slipped into bed one night, my partner had her back turned to me. I moved closer to her, as the big spoon, and kissed her on her cheek. She turned over and gave me a passionate kiss on the lips. The unsaid message between our lips communicated that it was ‘on.’

We reconnected on such a deep level that night, it was passionate, tender, and spiritual. It was all the fireworks and floating heart balloons you could dream of. We were both experiencing something we hadn’t felt in a long time, desire and bliss.

Before we drifted off to sleep she said, “that was some good sex after such a long time.” We said our “I love yous” across the pillow and fell asleep.

We turned our marriage around that night.


There’s been a sexual renaissance happening between us and I’m over the moon about that. She is too and all it took was for me to listen, think, and initiate change.

Yet, this is easier said than done. I still fuck up a lot but I’m more aware and course-correct faster.

Before you can change - if that’s what you truly want - you have to be willing to open yourself up to criticism, own your mistakes, and genuinely want to make amends. You sow the seeds of change once you do that.

A partner to laugh with, to make the bed sheets steam with, to connect and hold, and to desire once again.

I get it, circumstances can drive an unhappy spouse to adultery. Couples can slip into a sexless marriage without even knowing it.  It takes effort to keep a relationship going. It takes effort to create that desire and space[1] where eroticism between you both can grow.

It’s a hard task to add to the myriad of things to do like feeding the kids, or working overtime, or 100’s of other pressing things that need to get done. It gets worse when one of you is doing most of the domestic work.


We were driving together one weekend, on some errand task somewhere and we got to talking about our rekindled love life. She reached over and put her hand on my leg and said, “having an active sex life is super important to a marriage. Don’t you agree?

Yes, I couldn’t agree more. All it took was change in my thinking.

For me it was to stop thinking of her as my wife, a wife that’s tied to the drudgery of marriage. I saw her in a different light, I saw her as my life partner, my love partner, my partner in everything.

A 50/50 partnership where we split up the daily grind so we can spend more time quality time together. A partnership that raises our children together and turns them into awesome human beings. A partner to laugh with, to make the bed sheets steam with, to connect and hold, and to desire once again.

So, everyone, I’d like for you to meet my partner S. I’m Tom, it’s a pleasure to meet you.

PS: I don’t want praise for this. I don’t want a gold star for helping with domestic labor. I just want to be a better man, father, son, and lover.


I’m currently reading “Mating in Captivity” and this is key element of successful marriages. ↩︎