Embarrassing moments have a way of haunting our psyches forever. Almost 20 years ago, when I first started dating my now ex-husband, we were snuggling in my bed, watching a movie, when he started to playfully tickle me. The playful tickling got a little more aggressive until I was writhing and squealing so strenuously that the unimaginable happened: I farted… loudly… he noticed. I was mortified, but he, of course, thought it was hysterically funny so wouldn’t/ couldn’t drop the subject and pretend like it had never happened (as I was fervently praying he would). Instead, he used my unfortunate slip to initiate the conversation about “Breaking the Barrier” in our relationship, and from that moment on, even though I don’t think I ever farted in front of him again, he gave himself permission to pass gas at will. And boy, did he take advantage of that.
Farts are natural. Farts are unavoidable. Farts are funny. Farts are also uncontrollable sometimes. I get that. But, there’s also a reason why, as a society, we’ve been taught that there are appropriate times and places to fully relax, and times and places where good manners are key. So, I maintain that it’s not ok to fart in front of your lover purposely, indiscriminately, and tactlessly.
When we first start dating, we are always on our best behavior, not only because this is what is expected of us in civilized society, but because we are trying to impress the object of our desire. I posit that one of the reasons why our divorce rates are so high is because we lose that impetus to impress our lovers. We take them for granted. We disrespect them. We fart on them.
Imagine, if you will, that the man who you’ve been living with for the last 5 years took pains to be polite around you all the time. What if he didn’t stand in front of the refrigerator in pee-stained boxer shorts scratching his belly? What if he didn’t bellow at you from the sofa with his hands down the front of his pants asking you to bring him another beer? What if he didn’t leave his nose hair clippings in the bathroom sink? What if he didn’t silently fart under the covers and then fan the comforter in your face so that his particular aroma wafted straight up your nostrils?
Gentlemen, what if your lady stopped regularly squatting on the toilet with the bathroom door open? What if she didn’t schlep around the house on a Sunday morning wearing fuzzy bunny slippers and a terry cloth bathrobe with used tissues in the pockets? What if you didn’t have to watch her drape a towel around her shoulders and massage a bottle of rust-colored, ammonia-odored dye into her hair and scalp every month or three? What if she didn’t floss her teeth in bed just before she kissed you goodnight?
Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m not suggesting that we return to the days where Dads pace hospital corridors while their babies are born and only see Mom once she’s been made up and put in a frilly nighty. But, I don’t see anything wrong with taking care of your hygienic needs privately, or excusing yourself to another room if your body needs to release some pressure. I also don’t see anything wrong with trying to ensure your partners comfort and happiness however you might do so. When one partner deliberately tries to gross the other out, while it may seem funny from the outside perspective, what it is, in actuality, is mean and disrespectful behavior.
Case in point: my ex-husband didn’t stop at just farting on me whenever he had the chance. He also knew that I have a major aversion to mucus; in fact I’m gagging right now just from typing the word. … so, naturally, he got a tremendous amount of pleasure at showing me what his sinuses had produced and blown into tissues, furiously attempting to goad me into puking. One time, he chased me around the parking lot at Target with one such specimen, laughing hysterically as my eyes watered from dry-heaving relentlessly. Now, I understand if some of you are laughing at this now… I’m telling it somewhat lightheartedly after all, but, let me tell you, I was PISSED OFF when it happened. I felt like he was enjoying my pain. That’s sadism; not love- and just one example of a pattern of disrespect that continued to degenerate until our eventual divorce.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, when we’re in a long term relationship, we continued to treat each other the way we did when we were first dating? Maybe that joyous “falling in love” feeling wouldn’t be so fleeting. Similarly, if we kept up the efforts we took to look good in front of our partners (really, would you have been caught dead with unshaved pits and wearing granny panties the first time you took your guy to bed?) even after we’ve been together forever, maybe that sexy spark wouldn’t be so difficult to rekindle. Maybe the key to successful relationships is as simple as realizing that it’s not ok to fart on your lover…
After all, I’ve never heard of anyone suing for divorce because their spouse was too polite and considerate.