WELLESLEY FALLS, Mass. Priscilla Mainwaring, a mother of two teenaged children in this affluent suburb of Boston, has a little surprise in store for her husband Dan, a securities analyst. “I’m going to greet him at the door when he comes home on his 50th birthday wearing nothing but Saran Wrap,” she says. “The Cling Plus kind, not the Premium, which is an extra tough, heavy duty wrap that’s good for storing meats in the freezer.”
An adventurous present, except for one thing: Dan is only 47, so by the time his gift arrives America will have a new president and the Mainwaring children will have graduated from high school and be off to college. “I think the house will be a little quieter then,” Priscilla says in a whisper that reveals her reluctance to speak candidly about what is apparently a sensitive topic in her home.
The Mainwarings are devotees of Marcia Wenner, a relationship advisor who has counseled a growing number of suburban couples on ways to increase the passion in their marriages.
“Spontaneity doesn’t just happen,” Wenner says to this reporter in a rare moment of quiet in her busy office. “You’ve got to make sure you put soap in the dishwasher, turn down the thermostat, put the cats in the basement and sign the most recent codicil to your will before you can really relax and create a special moment with your partner,” she says with a tone of authority. “Oh, I forgot to mention that you should put stamps on the envelopes of any bills that are due to go out in the mail the next day.”
When those proto-typical concerns of a suburban housewife are added to the more widely-followed practice of shaving one’s legs, long-term planning becomes essential if couples are to find true marital bliss, Wenner says.
“I’m not saying it’s like the U.S. Census, where they have to reprint the forms in order to pull off a massive national project once every decade,” Wenner says. “A woman should think of her body as the female equivalent of the host city of the Olympics, so four years is usually enough time to prepare.”
Husbands of the women Wenner counsels say that while they find her no-nonsense regimen difficult to follow, they defer to her judgment as a professional. “Marcia must be good because she’s expensive,” says Jed Murphy, a corporate attorney at a large firm downtown. “I just wish we could go to a quarterly schedule, like a corporation that has to issue a report to its shareholders four times a year.”
His wife Alice, a petite blond with an extensive collection of “preppy” headbands, demurs, however. “Sweetie, you know that’s not practical,” she says with a tone that contains just a hint of reproach. “We’re not a public company, we’re a private couple that isn’t subject to SEC regulation.”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Blurbs From the Burbs.”