When I was growing up, my mother and father would talk to each other about their private bathroom activities, in foul and thorough detail. Even worse, when one was in the shower, the other would barge into the bathroom and pee, without shame.
In these too-intimate moments, I'd hear them talk from the other side of the door. Admittedly, these moments were probably one of the few they had alone.
My sister and I both swore that when we were married, we'd never talk about poop -- or any other gross bodily function for that matter -- with our husbands. My parents would laugh at these declarations. "Yes you will!" they'd say.
As parents usually are, they were right.
During my morning shower, my husband will often come into the bathroom and pee, the toilet within easy view; thankfully, all I see is his back. He clips his toenails in front of me (something, oddly, I can't bring myself to do in front of him). We'll stand next to each other in front of the same mirror and floss our teeth together. I am grateful that some things are still left as private endeavors -- nose picking, throwing up, evacuating of bowels.
But we still talk about it.
This certainly isn't what I imagined married life to be like. I don't know what I imagined, to be honest, but performing the unsavory rituals of daily hygiene in full view of my husband certainly didn't grace my fantasies.
That vision isn't in romance novels or rom-com chick flicks.
Intimacy is an idealized notion -- whispered affections under the covers, hand holding, a lingering kiss before leaving for work, cuddling on the couch. Perhaps when a couple first starts dating, all these precious scenes define intimacy.
But the real definition of intimacy is much different. It's complete and total comfort to be yourself, and that means not hiding your gross side.
The real measure of closeness arrives with the first uncensored fart. If you can do that in front of each other, by God, you may have a long-lasting, meaningful relationship on your hands. You better start designing the wedding invitations the very next day.
Such a level of comfort -- the freely farting, unabashedly peeing kind of comfort -- only exists with true love. It's the same comfort that keeps you from feeling awkward when neither of you speaks at dinner. It assures you that no matter how disgusting you are, the other person still loves you.
Until you're married -- or in a long-term, committed relationship -- you don't realize that you will know your spouse's body as well as your own. You'll share bowel habits. You'll exchange descriptions of heartburn and the viscosity and color of mucus. You'll be cut viciously on the leg by your husband's long toenail just as you're falling asleep. You'll also be trapped in your own bed after he breaks wind, pinching your nose as he laughs uncontrollably.
This is love. Sharing disgusting secrets you can't tell anyone else. Being yourself, in all your burping, farting, oozing glory, every day of your life.
And at the end of the day, being cherished, desired, loved -- and still sexy.
That, indeed, is a small miracle.
JH Mae is a Banner columnist.