As I was editing wedding photos recently I couldn’t help but think a lot about marriage and how it evolves after those newlywed years. It really takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? Couples’ counseling prior to the wedding is popular these days, especially within some religious denominations, but frankly there is some stuff counseling just can’t prepare you for. There are some things that aren’t discussed prior to marriage because it’s a lot like childbirth in that if we knew all there is to know about it, we probably wouldn’t ever do it. We’d just die off instead of procreating if we knew in advance about mucus plugs and episiotomies. One of the most astonishing things about childbirth for me was the morning after when the nurse came in, rolled my exhausted arse over and said cheerily, “Let’s check you for hemorrhoids.” “Holy crap! Hemorrhoids?” I practically yelled. Somehow I had missed that chapter in all of my What to Expect When You’re Expecting reading. Fortunately, I passed the test with flying colors, but it certainly would have made pregnancy less appealing had I known about that and that whole mucus plug thing in advance. Same goes for marriage. We would certainly give it more consideration if we knew all the unwritten rules in advance. There are a lot of things you do in marriage that you don’t say “I do” to at the wedding.
For instance, in heterosexual marriages the husband always drives the oldest vehicle in the driveway. The wife is supposed to have the “dependable” transportation, presumably because she’s less inclined to know how to jumpstart the thing if it dies in traffic. This rule seems to be a holdover during those sexist times prior to the invention of cell phones. These days, my plan for car trouble is to walk to the nearest coffee shop and call Triple AAA, but I still adhere to the wife gets the good car rule because it works to my advantage. Hubby is driving a 1983 pick-up truck.
Also, if the loaf of bread is nearly gone, the husband gets the sandwich with the heel. He must also eat any scraps left on the children’s plates. Eventually, he will get so used to it that he actually thinks he prefers the heels AND every meal ends with him asking, “Are you going to eat that?”
Men are also always supposed to lie about the size of their wife’s backside. Hubby adheres to this one religiously. It’s the only thing he’s allowed to lie to me about. If my fanny gets to be the size of Mount Rushmore he is still supposed to say “no” when I ask if those pants make my butt look big. Some men never learn this rule. They’re called divorcees.
Personally, I’ve always thought the best pre-wedding test for marriage readiness is the flu. You shouldn’t get married to someone unless you and your finance have suffered through the flu together. I don’t mean a runny nose cold. I mean a full blown case of the lie in the floor and ask for last rites flu. If a man will clean up your vomit, check on you every hour to make sure you haven’t expired and bring you toilet paper when the diarrhea kicks in unexpectedly, he’s a keeper. If he won’t ladies, run like you have the trots. And if you’re not willing to bring him toilet paper if he’s the sick one then you are not ready to share your life with him.
In fact, the bathroom in itself is kind of a benchmark for relationships. You can often tell how long a couple has been married by the state of the door when one of them is using the potty. If it’s closed, they’re newlyweds. If they shout through a partially closed door, they’ve been married approximately three to five years. If they will have a fifteen minute conversation about paint colors while one sits on the edge of the tub clipping her toenails and the other stinks up the joint, they’ve passed their tenth anniversary. Prior to the wedding you can’t imagine that happening, but when you spend a lot of time under one roof together you eventually have to do number two and pass gas in the presence of your spouse. One day you just get tired of holding it in. Besides, it’s a little like bungee jumping. Once you’ve done it the first time, it’s not so intimidating anymore.
In fact, marriage as a whole is a lot like bungee jumping. It can be crazy wild and downright scary. Sometimes, you feel like you’re flying blindly. Other times you just want to surrender. It can be terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. My advice to newlyweds? Don’t worry so much about the rules; just hang on for dear life. And don’t worry about the bathroom door. There are aspects of marriage that are a whole lot scarier than seeing your partner on the pot.
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