Married 38 years as of 4 o’clock last Tuesday.
I once heard the theory that the more you spend on a wedding, the worse your prospects for being married a long time.
By that yardstick we’re golden, spending about $50 to get a license and a county judge to ink the pact at the Moffat County Courthouse in small-town Craig, Colorado. (Works out to $1.32 a year, about the price of a medium coffee at McDonalds.)
As the publisher of the local paper, I later had some disagreements with the judge who married us, over coverage of the courts. And my wife worked at the hospital, where the judge’s husband was a surgeon. That’s life in a small town, where you can’t throw a rock without hitting somebody’s grandmother.
We stopped on the way home at a liquor store for some refreshments for friends coming over that evening. But we didn’t buy the expensive beer in the green bottles. Way too cheap for that.
So anyway, back before I became a woke guy, I used to write that we’d been married “for more years than most murderers spend in prison.” It gets more true every year, but it occurs to me now that such a comparison might trigger our snowflake friends. So I hardly ever write that anymore. Except now.
Likewise, back in my less-woke days, I used to refer to my wife in columns as “my charming and vivacious wife, The Wife.” For decades I referred to her that way, and it got so patients where she worked would see her name tag and say, “So you’re The Wife I read about in the paper!” She liked it.
Back in those primitive days, few folks took the time and effort to be offended by a guy who referred to his wife as The Wife. (The late, great Chicago columnist Mike Royko referred to his wife in his columns as “The Blonde.” )
So I got away with it for years. And I liked that phrase, because it hung it out there momentarily that I might finally use my wife’s real name. But then I didn’t. For years I also referred to our kids as Chester, Blanche and Biff (not their real names).
(One reader suspected my daughter was really named Blanche, “because Dave’s from back east, and they have names like that back there.”)
These are the things you do when you write two columns a week for decades, and not every column can be about property taxes, politicians, or your Labrador Retriever.)
Back when I called my wife The Wife, you could figure that folks would actually read the column, instead of reading those two supposedly demeaning words and fly off the handle. Most readers picked up on the fact that whenever I mentioned The Wife in my column, she always came across looking a lot smarter than I was. (Sad, but true.) I rode that self-deprecating mule for years, and most readers got the joke.
Not today, however, when folks get hysterical about things like pronouns. We live in a time when you can make a rule, then get furious if everyone you meet doesn’t obey your rule. (My nephew in Illinois got a letter from his daughter’s junior high school – same school I went to – asking for her preferred pronouns. He replied that they should always refer to her as “Her Royal Highness.”)
So anyway (that’s two “so anyways” in one column, so I’ll quit now), my advice to people who someday want to be married for 38 years is to find someone who agrees with you on money. (We’re both so cheap that we crawl under doors to save wear and tear on the hinges.) Being co-miserly takes a lot of arguments off the table.
And as The Wife (sorry, I couldn’t resist) says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” because unless it involves anesthesia, “it’s all small stuff.”
And lastly, consider this rule of thumb, young fella: It’s a lot easier to take out the garbage than to have a big honking argument about who takes out the garbage. Simple as that.
Follow these simple rules and someday, like us, you could be married for more years than most murderers spend in prison.