Monday, August 4, 2014

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My Wife is Tracking Me...


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Mel was in the living room, feeding our new baby, and messing around with my iPhone.

“Is the password on your phone your usual password?” she asked.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I’m putting something on your phone.”

We’d invested in iPhones about two weeks earlier. I say invest because it makes me feel better, but actually it was a splurge. They were iPhone 4’s and we bought them used, and even then, it was a matter of moving money around in our budget to make it happen. Neither of us had ever had a smart phone. I suppose I had a dumb phone before, that was only able to transport my voice through space, into a satellite dish, and back down to another person anywhere in the world.

Lame. I know.

I resisted getting a smart phone for a long time because I assumed it would be a distraction. But when my mother-in-law came to visit, a woman in her late 50’s, and she had a smart phone, I felt really old and outdated, and decided that perhaps it was time to, as one of my students advised after seeing my old school cell phone, update myself.

In the two weeks that I’d had the smart phone, Mel had already put her number in my phone under the name, “My Sexy Wife” and given herself what she described as a “sexy ring tone.” Although it was cute, I felt like my privacy had been invaded. Like she’d put her name on the back of all my shirts, and yet, I knew that if I changed the listing in my phone, I’d have to explain myself. I tend to function under the axiom, “pick your battles,” and in this case, I didn’t feel like it was worth arguing about.

When Mel asked for my password, I knew that somehow, I’d be losing either my privacy or my identity.

“I’m installing Find My Friends,” she said.

“What the hell is that?” I asked.

“It’s an app that will show me where you are at all times.”

“There’s an app that can do that? Like it will show where I am on a map?” I asked.

“Yup,” she said.

I felt a pit in my gut. Not because I’d done anything wrong, or that I was planning to do anything wrong. I wasn’t planning to run of to Mexico and find a new wife, or some other over the top exploit. I just didn’t like the idea of her knowing where I was all the time. It felt like an invasion of my privacy. If felt Big Brother creepy. I wondered if she was installing this because she didn’t trust me for some reason. Or perhaps she wanted to know exactly how boring my life really was. The only thing she might discover is that sometimes, I sneak away from the office and go to the lowbrow burrito place across town and get something really greasy and gross that causes me to be up most of the night with diarrhea. That’s about how risky my life gets as a father and full time educator.

But at the same time, I liked the idea of being able to do that and not wonder if my wife was at our house, leering over her phone, watching me and finally realizing that I don’t have some random stomach illness, but rather an unhealthy addiction to breakfast burritos.

However, if I were to really strip away my fear of this app, it was because it made me feel even more whooped then I already was. As a man, I still want to feel independent sometimes. I want to feel like I am the boss of my own life, and my own actions. And this app felt like one more chip at that independence, similar to the way I feel compelled to tell Mel if I’m working late, or ask for her permission to go out with my buddies. I know all this comes down to common decency in marriage. I know that it doesn’t mean that I’m not a man, but rather a considerate husband. But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes I just want to feel carefree and independent, like I felt in my 20s, before I had a wife. I hope this isn’t unusual. I hope this isn’t the start of a midlife crisis.

“No,” I said. “I don’t want that thing on my phone. I mean…” I paused for a moment. I knew that if I told her no, she’d think that I was up to something. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want suspicion in our marriage. But at the same time, I wasn’t comfortable with her putting the app on my phone. I thought about what I could say that would change her mind, help her realize that what she was doing made me feel like I was losing some of my independence. But before I could formulate a speech, she said.

“Yup. It’s the usual password,” she said. “Check it out. You are going to love it!”

I walked over to the sofa, and Mel showed me a map on my phone. It was of Small Town Oregon, and there were two blue dots in the middle. One had my face, and one had Mel’s.

“See. It knows that we’re home. Isn’t that cool? Now I don’t have to call you and ask how close you are. I can just see it on my phone.”

“No,” I said.  “I don’t think it’s cool. I think it’s NSA creepy. It feels like you are going to be watching me. I don’t like it.”

Mel rolled her eyes.

“You can see me,” she said.

“That’s not the point. This isn’t an ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ kind of thing. I don’t want to see where you are either. I trust you. I don’t need to know where you are all the time.”

“You know,” she said. “You can turn it off whenever you want.”

Mel and I looked at each other for a while. We were at a standoff. This happens sometimes. I had to assume that she saw this app as something innocent. Something that she could use to help make her life easier. Knowing when I’m going to be home is important to her, because it means a break. Because honestly, with her being a stay at home mom in a town with no family, I’m the only relief she has. But to me, it meant a loss of my privacy and independence.

But like I often do in situations like this, I caved.

“Fine,” I said.



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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter
Photo by Lucinda Higley