How to stay married |

How to stay married

The other day I saw one of those bikes that looks like the riders are laying down while they peddle. Only this bike was a little different. The husband was facing forward with his legs peddling out in front of him while his wife was behind him facing backwards and peddling in the opposite direction. Yet the bike was moving forward! 

If that isn’t a fitting metaphor for marriage I don’t know what is!

Next year my wife and I will celebrate 50 years of wedded bliss. My marriage is the thing I am most proud of in my life and I knew after our first date that Diane was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Still, I was reluctant to ask, “Will you marry me?”

I was afraid she’d reply, “Will I what?” Or, “I’d rather drink a gallon of paint thinner!”

Statistics reveal that marriage, or what is now referred to as “the sociocultural interface” or “two or more people sharing a living space,” is now an alternative lifestyle and a dying institution. I have a friend who’s been married so many times the preacher gives him a volume discount and he could live for a month on the rice that’s collected in the pockets of his suit. Another monogamously challenged acquaintance jokingly refers to his “five mile wedding license” and “his current wife.”

Having a great marriage is not easy and there are sacrifices one has to make. For example, I was raised on Miracle Whip and was shocked to find out from my bride that, “Only poor people eat Miracle Whip.” She ate real myonnaise and wouldn’t have Miracle Whip in the house. I figured this was a battle not worth fighting.

Then there’s her choice in football teams. She’s been a fan of the Pittsburg Steelers ever since Terry Bradshaw played for them. (She’s got this thing for Bradshaw I don’t understand.) Whereas I’ve liked the 49’ers ever since I became friends with their offensive line coach who invited us once a year to sit in the owner’s box to watch a game. You can imagine how humiliated I was when she rooted for the Steelers while eating cheese puffs in the owner’s box of the Niners. Rather than argue I just gave up watching football.

My wife says I only have two faults, I don’t listen and… I forget the other one. Oh yea, it’s my driving. Although you really couldn’t call it that as all I did was hold the steering wheel. She used to constantly tell me, “Slow down! Speed up! Don’t pass! Don’t let that jerk cut you off!” I finally made the ultimate sacrifice and gave up driving after having a debilitating stroke. (Seizures and driving don’t mix.) This meant she had to do all the driving and we haven’t had a fight ever since. My neighbors have the same problem and have to drive two vehicles even when going to the same place!

I did have a minor victory in the toilet paper and paper towel department though. You won’t believe this but my wife was taught that the paper was to come off the back of the roll while I was normal and knew the proper way was for it to cascade down the front.

I also realized right away that if our marriage was going to last I’d have to give up control of three things: the remote control and two books… cook and check. 

The best advice I ever got on how to stay married came from my grandpa who I never heard get in a fight with grandma. When he gave me the family heirloom diamond ring that was to be Diane’s engagement ring he said, “If the husband or wife starts to get a little hot under the collar the wife should go to the kitchen and the man should go to the garage. The man will get a little quality time in the shop and maybe even some hot chocolate chip cookies. As for the wife, there’s always the possibility that the car will fall off the jack stands and she’ll get to collect on the life insurance policy.”

Oh, and I almost forgot this tip… generally speaking, the couple that laughs together stays together.

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Lee Pitts

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