Sunday, June 29, 2003

Every day

Marriage: One thing mankind will never understand

Paul Daugherty

Apparently, there is an emerging trend among engaged people to consult Old Married Couples on how to remain coupled. The veterans counsel the rookies on what it takes to stay in the major leagues. Years of living in the same space and fighting for control of the TV remote equals marital enlightenment.

As if.

"(For) nine prewedding sessions, she and Andy (met) with an older, wiser couple,'' said the story in Time magazine. "Marriage mentors'' Time called them. "A venerable practice that's going mainstream.''

Mainstream? Really? Someone get me a paddle.

Experience might count in running companies or hitting curveballs. In marriage, it doesn't mean jack.

I've been married 20 years. I don't know a thing.

Except, maybe, this:

I shrug a lot.

If you are a guy and you have been married to the same person any length of time, you know what I mean. It's the body-language equivalent of "Yes, dear.'' You need to pick your battles when you're married. Then not fight them.

Take the bedroom closet.

You will discover that she gets 100 percent of the bedroom closet, and you get what is left. Imagine renting a U-Haul for all your stuff. She gets the cargo space, you get underneath the passenger seat.

Don't sweat the shoes. Your wife will like shoes. She will own many pairs. They will multiply overnight. Ten pairs of shoes at 11 p.m. are 14 pairs by 7 the next morning. That's just how it is.

It's the same with purses. You will have one wallet. You will not understand why she needs a purse for every day of the month, two purses on Saturdays, when she goes shopping for a purse. Because she doesn't have one.

This also goes for bathing suits, blue jeans, workout tapes and diet plans. It is, I think, genetic. Don't fight it. Shrug.

Don't ever do something once, unless you want to do it the rest of your life. Laundry, for instance. Or gardening. Or, oh god, cuddling. When she asks, "Don't you want to be with me?'' act like you hear the doorbell.

If she has a sister who lives in Baltimore, don't read the cell phone statements.

When she asks you to see any movie with four female leads, run away.

Especially if one is Meryl Streep. Or Hugh Grant.

She doesn't think orifices are half as amusing as you do.

Whenever Dr. Phil is on, locate the nearest exit that's not close to the laundry room. Dr. Phil is a traitor to the male species. He has lots of shoes.

Your wife will, at some point, ask you to take one of those "marriage tests'' she found in a women's magazine. Take the test. Lie.

There is no problem that flowers won't cure.

You will do battle over the thermostat. You will want it cooler in the wintertime and warmer in the summer. She will decide that anything other than 72 degrees is misery defined.

Stay strong. It's not about money or comfort. It's about power.

She will want children before you do. Shrug. She's right.

She will speak in absolutes. Always. Never. "Just once, I'd like to have a day to myself.''

"You went away with your sister last week, on my Marriott points.''

"Oh, so now every time I say I need a day, you're going to throw that one out there?''


Many years ago, my grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. My wife used the occasion to ask my grandmother how she did it. (Notice the question was not, How'd he put up with you all these years?)

Mum-Mum Ryan responded earnestly. "Grit your teeth and bear it,'' she said.

There you have it. Six decades of gritted teeth. Marital advice doesn't get wiser than that.

Feel better now, kids?


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