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Treat me like you treat them

March 30, 2013|Hilary MacGregor | MacGregor is a writer in Los Angeles
  • The author wishes her husband would treat her like he treats his friends.
The author wishes her husband would treat her like he treats his friends. (Steve Sedam, For The Times )

I have been married to my husband for 10 years. He is still my favorite person in the world. But sometimes I look at what time has done: I feel like he takes me for granted, and the qualities that once delighted him and made me irresistibly lovable increasingly drive him insane. I believe the people you love the most should get the best treatment in the world. Sometimes I feel like he thinks you get to treat them the worst.

I told him that.

"That's horrible," he said, barely paying attention, as he fiddled with my iPhone trying to get Spotify to work.

I thought of the night we were driving to the party of one of his dear friends, an undeniably cool 80-year-old screenwriter with an Oscar under her belt. She had given us the wrong address, and we ended up lost on some dark, random dead-end street in the San Fernando Valley. He called her.

"Hi, Barbara," he said. "Can you tell me the address?"

She did. Then he looked at me sheepishly, and we both burst out laughing. Sending an invite with the wrong address was something I would have done, but if I really had been at fault, he would have gone off on a tirade. With Barbara, he was all sweetness, acting as if it were his mistake. When we got to the party, he said, "Sorry we're late."

After my husband was done fiddling with my iPhone, I told him what I wanted. I wanted him to treat me as well as he treated his friends, his favorite people in the world.

"But you ARE my favorite person in the world," he protested.

"Then treat me that way," I said.

I wanted him to talk to me and make time for me and schmooze me, just as he does with his other people, I said.

"Next week can you treat me like Barbara?" I asked. If I needed him, could he drop everything and rush over? Could he meet me for lunch at my favorite restaurant, pay the bill, flatter me and take me home? Could he tell me how great I am and how great my work is, and that he has faith in me? Could he talk to me about me? When I give him the wrong address to a party, could he gently double-check, rather than lose his temper? He said he could.

"Every time you feel like saying something snide or mean," I said, "just imagine I am Barbara."

"OK," he said.

I started to get excited.

There were real possibilities here.

I thought of all his other friends.

"The week after I want you to treat me like Marty," I said. Marty is his best male friend. He is funny and smart, gentle and wise. He runs a gay Latino nightclub in the Valley and is grounded in the practical but always hatching imaginative entrepreneurial projects. Being treated like Marty meant I could talk with my husband like equals about projects we are working on. We could meet for breakfast at the 101 Coffee Shop in Hollywood and eat big omelets and listen to the awesome juke box. We could exchange sage advice by text at any hour of the day or night.

"Oh, and the week after that, I want you to treat me like Raymond," I said.

Raymond is directing my husband's movie. Raymond is a soulful man who makes small, exquisite films with a real voice -- and has Hollywood legends crashing at his house for the night. My husband and Raymond go out for perfect cups of espresso at the newest coffee shops. They pore over my husband's script, and my husband sits at Raymond's feet worshipfully trying to learn. In the morning my husband wakes up and says things like, "I really like Raymond!"

Here is the thing. In our time together, I have gotten all these things. My husband has hatched projects with me. And, yes, there are brief moments when my husband has even been quasi-worshipful of me. We have even had great espresso at hipster places and talked about our dreams. We still do, sometimes.

Day to day, though, the mundane has taken over. I am treated more with irritation. More often than not, it seems his best energy is saved for others.

But my husband is up for the game. This week he will treat me like Barbara. Next week, Marty. The week after, Raymond. I will be courted like a wise old screenwriter, welcomed like a gay best friend, then worshiped like a creative genius. I already feel better.

"Then it's your birthday," I said. "So if you want to just treat me like me, you can."

"I love it," he said. And he really was excited. "This is a great idea. You should write about this."

Then he grabbed me and started kissing me. "Barbara, oh, Barbara," he said. Then he went off to meet Marty for a project they are working on. I am sure he will give Raymond a call on the way to get a shot of inspiration.

But tonight he will cook me paella and make me laugh, I hope.

And that is why I love him.


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