My wife has left me for a short, bald guy who giggles when you blow raspberries on his tummy. Now, how can I compete with that?

Apparently, according to recent studies, people aren't getting married like they used to. And please don't tell me "No one's going to buy the cow if they can get the milk for free." I never did get that expression. Who wants to marry a cow, anyway? Besides, I've been going to the grocery store a lot lately, and the milk is anything but free.


If companionship, the concept (if not always the reality) of sex on a regular basis and the thrill of knowing someone who sees you without pretense or makeup will still come home at the end of the day — and did I mention love? — if these weren't reasons enough to get married, or at least live together, let me add one more that ought to put the oft-maligned tradition over the top: Time. Alone, there just isn't enough of it.

Usually, I write sitting at my kitchen table, looking out occasionally at the birdfeeder that hangs over our deck and at the woods behind our house. The birds come and go, and I feel good about that. Other times, I'll turn on the TV and write while I pretend to be watching a Lifetime movie. These movies are like soap operas. I can listen for a minute or two, write for a while and then look up again without losing the storyline.

Not today. Truth be told, my wife has left me, abandoned me for a long weekend in New York, where she claims she'll be baby sitting with our new grandson while my daughter goes back to work and my favorite (and only) son-in-law is out of town on business. My son-in-law is for real, but I suspect my wife and daughter have front-packed "the kid" onto one of them and are hitting the stores, or are waiting in line for cheap seats to shows I wouldn't want to see anyway.

Today, I am writing on little pieces of yellow paper while I make breakfast, clean up the family room, water the plants and do seemingly endless stuff it turns out my wife was doing when I wasn't paying attention — which, so she tells me, is most of the time. They're everywhere. I feel like the squirrel in those Post-It commercials.

The thing is, I was pretty much maxed out to begin with, what with my day job and the chores we divvied up years ago, the way new couples do. My wife cooks, for example, but I do the dishes. That's our deal, although we have nothing in writing — and don't think that doesn't worry me. Also, I take out the garbage and the recycling, pay the bills and do (or supervise) home maintenance and repairs, in exchange for which she does the laundry and goes to the gym three days a week.


"Hey! Gym is hard work."


Now do you see how this works? Did you hear that? She's 200 miles away and talking to me from inside my head. This is what long-term marriage does to you.

And I thought it was nice when she volunteered to represent me in our negotiations with each other. I was young then and didn't fully understand the meaning of "conflict of interest." Could it be that I've been taken advantage of? That I let her blond hair and green eyes turn my well-honed business skills to mush? I used to feel that way, but I'm beginning to think I've been mistaken.

Turns out, there's all sorts of other stuff she's been doing, so thanklessly and apparently effortlessly that I didn't really notice — things I'm doing now, without nearly enough time left over to get my own stuff done. Mind you, I'm a man and I can do things. I'm educable. I have skills. It's just that there's stuff everywhere, more stuff than one person can do. (Single parents, I'm seriously impressed.)

I want my life back. More to the point, I want my wife back. "Honey? Can you take an earlier train?" I haven't worn the same outfit for so many days in a row since college, and I'm running out of Post-Its. "Honey, this is serious. Help me out here."

Les Cohen lives in Ellicott City. He blogs at http://www.WordFeeder.US and http://www.MyKidsGaveMe.org.