loving to hate

A humorous approach on the pressure we put on ourselves to always love someone.

The Husband I Love to Hate 

After 25 years, Laurie Lico Albanese can finally share the secret that could have wrecked her marriage

by Laurie Lico Albanese

The seeds were planted 28 years ago, when he showed up late for our first date.
“I went to the wrong building,” Frank said when he arrived. He was wearing black shorts (we were going for a run), and he was out of breath. “I went up to the third floor, and there was a woman in a bright dress sitting on a chair in the hall in front of your apartment. I was kind of surprised, because she didn’t speak any English.”
“Where were you?”
Frank named a street three blocks from mine. I grimaced. He laughed. Then we went out and ran.
Frank was handsome, patient and kind. In the next few months we fell in love, got engaged and moved to Chicago. I wanted to be as sweet and generous toward my new husband as he was toward me. But it was hard. Once, we passed the hospital where he’d had his emergency appendectomy.
“Look at that pretty blue building,” he said as we jogged along Lake Shore Drive. “I wonder what that is?”
How could he be so smart and successful yet so scatterbrained? Throughout a quarter century of marriage, this strand of frustration wound stubbornly through the skein of my deepening affection. Sometimes I blamed my father, who’d taught me to read maps, use a compass and equate clearheaded navigation with masculine competence. But whatever the root, how could I love my husband if I hated him? How could I hate him when I loved him? This was my terrifying, dizzying secret, and it went on for years.
Then Frank and I traveled halfway around the world together, and I found myself exhausted and dehydrated on a crowded Asian street. It was 101 degrees. Lights were going off in my brain. Frank hailed a taxi. Given that I was doubled over with a migraine, I expected him to deal with the driver. Instead, he asked me the name of our hotel.
“You know, I hate you,” I blurted, my most shameful secret finally exposed.
“I know,” Frank said. I swung my head up to look at him.“You do?”
He smiled. “I’m a jerk sometimes,” he said.
“But babe, I hate you at least 10 minutes out of every day!” I was almost in tears.
“Ten minutes?” he said with a laugh. “That’s all? I’m
so relieved.”
Relief washed through me, too. I was free to hate my husband when he was lost, confused or absentminded beyond my comprehension. I was free to hate him for 10 minutes, andthen to let it go. And he was welcome to do the same. We got back to the hotel, and I slept for 12 hours.
The next morning at breakfast, Frank asked if I wanted some Prosecco. I arched an eyebrow at him.
“Do you mean Pellegrino?”
“Obviously,” he replied, without missing a beat.
“Hating you,” I said in a singsong voice.
“Tell me when my 10 minutes are up,” Frank replied. He laughed. And so did I.
Laurie Lico Albanese and her husband celebrated their 25th anniversary with a trip to Rome. She carried the maps; he carried—then lost—the compass.
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