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A Bathroom of One's Own

By Rebekah Iliff

Conventional wisdom offers all sorts of ingredients for a happy marriage including laughter, patience, friendship, trust and regularly scheduled date nights. The less touted “personal space” is also a core ingredient, and the lack thereof can throw off even the most heavenly matrimonial bliss.

I learned this around age 18, when I asked my maternal grandmother how she and my grandfather remained content together after nearly five decades of marriage. With glittery eyes and slightly turned up lips she said: “Well honey, he traveled five days a week until retirement.”

So before my husband moved into my house — the one I’d proudly purchased and decorated to my liking shortly before our official courtship began — I sat him down for a serious conversation about boundaries. Most gals would likely be concerned with topics such as “what’s considered flirting?” and “how many guy trips a year is too many?” Not me. I had only one thing on my mind.

“My love,” I said.

“Yes dear,” he said.

“I need to tell you the one seminal rule of this house, now that we’re living together.”

“Let me guess. You don’t intend to start cooking?”

“That’s a close second. But no.”

“Well honey, please spit it out. The suspense is killing me.”

I took a deep breath, momentarily looked away from his earnest blue-gray eyes, then turned to face him. I put my hand on top of his, to show my sincerity and our inextricable connection. I mouthed “I love you.” He tilted his head and smiled curiously. Then he replied: “I love you, too.” But the inflection in his voice signaled he was also asking a question. He probably wondered what he was getting himself into. Finally, sweetly but with firmness, I spoke.

“Under no circumstances will we share a bathroom.”

Before I could gauge his level of confusion (or agreement with my proclamation), I offered him detailed insight.

I explained to him that my bathroom is a sanctuary. It’s where I find solitude, say my prayers, and think about what’s wrong with my loved ones and how I can effectively change them. I can’t ruminate fondly about my husband if he is standing right next to me watching me expertly apply my eyebrows. My bathroom is where I ritualistically bathe, conduct my beauty regimen, fuss with my hair and do things I never want my husband — or anyone else, for that matter — to see or hear. Ever. How am I to arrive in the bedroom as a desirable object of affection if my significant other has just witnessed an aggressive tooth flossing? And for shame, no one except me with one eye closed is going to get a glimpse of my face as I stare in that torturous magnifying mirror plucking hairs from my chin. This is surely grounds for divorce.

When I finished my monologue, my husband let out a small sigh and stroked my cheek with his free hand.

“Fine by me, babe. I was actually going to ask if I could have the entire guest suite to myself.”

— Rebekah Iliff

Rebekah Iliff is a business and humor writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her work has appeared in Inc., Entrepreneur, Forbes, The Satirist, Little Old Lady Comedy, HuffPost Comedy and the Weekly Humorist. This piece is an excerpt from her forthcoming bookChampagne for One, to be published in February 2022.

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