Lucky Witness

I sat behind a married couple in church today who reminded me of how my parents looked together 30 years ago.  He was a balding man in his sixties, neat, dressed in a fitted suit and tie. He wore a gold signet ring on his right hand and wedding ring on the left. His wife, sitting respectfully close was also dressed in a detailed pants suit with jacket. Her hair cut neat, her perfume pleasant like a fresh cut flower. Small gold diamond earrings tucked in her ears, and a matching necklace, her finger spun a little too big gold wedding band set on her left hand. She checked her gold watch as the service began, and tucked it back under her sleeve. They both had silver glasses on with similar frame shapes as though they planned it that way.

Once in a while, the husband would lean over and whisper something in her ear and she would nod her head or cover her mouth in a gesture of “I can’t believe you just said that in church” sort of way. He would then smile and pat her knee. During the service, and during a prayer, her hand would simply join his perfectly, fingers laced gently as though they had practiced since childhood. There minimal movements were beautifully synchronized as though they were dancing. His arm slid behind her protectively and she leaned into him slightly.

While the chapel lighting was as dim as the grayness of the day, the warmth reflected from their years of shared history lit their space. No one else seemed to notice the knowing that passed between them in gestures instead of words. I alone was aware of the mastery of their language.

My parents had their own language of marriage learned from over 50 years together. A slight touch or signal look to one another. It developed from occupying the same space and trusting the safety of that space with one another. Knowing the other is there unconditionally and without a word spoken is a pure gift. I am the lucky witness.

What Mom Didn’t Tell Me About Being A Wife

inside_out_02_disgust_by_miacat7-d8a4fkfMoms tell us about “becoming a woman,” when you have your monthly visitor. She tells us about the horrors of pregnancy and delivery of the first baby…at least some mom’s do. They discuss private things and answer questions about bodies and why men do things. However, there are things mom’s don’t really share that I will share today.  If you are planning on marriage any time soon, please read on to understand what delights marriage holds in the coming years.

Now, I do support marriage and a life long commitment to a good man but let’s be honest, most men are just a mess!  If they are not so when you marry, just give them a few years.  They make embarrassing noises at inappropriate times, they say things in public that make you want to crawl in a hole, they act like morons when you least expect it, and then they do something cute that makes you laugh and you forgive them. It is the woman’s curse really how we put up with them when they have done stupid things because they hold some kind of attraction that made us fall for them in the first place. But there it is. Love.

As they grow older, they lose things. You will hear often, “honey, where is my…(fill in the blank with wallet, keys, pants, favorite underwear you have thrown away, black shoes, lucky golf towel, etc…).” I swear he must think I have some sort of uterine radar for all his lost items.

Then there is the undeniable foe of all wives – – the toilet seat. It is a battle we have been fighting for many years, and promised to outlast all world wars. Men just cannot always remember to lower that seat, especially at night when the room is pitch black and you end up ass in cold water cussing at two am while they snore unaware.

The junk drawer is a shared mess, but there is the eventual argument over a lost tool that you may or may not have borrowed to hang a picture or fix something. He walks around banging, cursing, and then gets mad when you go directly to his tool shop area and picks up the thing he needs that was there all the time. That never goes over well.

After age fifty things start changing in a man’s body dear.  Hair starts to grow less thick out of the scalp and grows instead out of ears, neck, and other undesirable places. This only becomes a problem when they need help grooming because they cannot reach there anymore. Ugh. Yes, this will happen eventually or you will just have to look at it. After all, it doesn’t matter to him because he cannot see it. But you become affixed looking at that one wild hair coming out of the bottom of his earlobe at a dinner one night. It is moving with the passing fan overhead. You cannot even eat because it keeps waving at you while you are ignoring his story of a guy at work…blah blah…wave wave with black splendor even though his hair is all grey now!

But my favorite pet peeve that absolutely makes me crazy like a dog with a short tail he will never catch is the pee dribbles on the toilet rim.  Yes, they rarely use toilet paper, but instead just give it a wag or shake. Just ask them! Inevitably, they will leave behind a trail on the rim, the seat, or on the floor. If you want proof, walk into your bathroom at night with a black light and see what pee stains are there. You better be prepared, this might really gross some of you ladies out! When mentioned, most men might make a half effort, but really…if it doesn’t bother them they just don’t get why it bothers you so much. That is generally the man’s attitude about most things that annoy women. They may pretend to get it, but they don’t.

When I got married, I never knew about all of these annoying little habits men have. I never saw my dad do these things. But later, mom explained that she just went behind him and cleaned up but never mentioned it. She was a master of never rocking the boat but just doing what needed done to satisfy her own need of a clean home and happy family. I watched her just doing things without every speaking about it and didn’t even realize that I would either have to do the same or live alone some day.

What I propose is a new set of vows for women and men.These are realistic vows that make the two think before they say “I do”. You are welcome to modify, add to, or change to suit. These are the things I wish mom had told me about way in advance.

Dear Partner:

I vow to leave you every morning with I love you and every night with a kiss even if we are a little upset.

I vow to not try and change you to be who I want because that just frustrates me and is not realistic.

I vow not to be angry when you leave 2 ounces of milk in the jug and put it back into the frig.

I vow to walk beside you in your pissy moods and bad attitudes just maybe not so close.

I vow to care for you when you are sick and enjoy your company when you are well.

I vow to not hide my purchases under the bed or in the trunk until I can truthfully say to you, “Oh I bought that a while ago…you must not remember.”

I vow to put the toilet paper roll on the way I want, and leave it alone when you put it on the way you want even when I know I am right.

I vow to wipe up my own bodily functions from the commode before leaving the bathroom because that is just gross and lazy.

I cannot promise not to annoy you but will love you even if you annoy me sometimes.

I vow that even in our worst fights, I will stop and remember all those things about you that make me love you even if in that moment they are not apparent through flaming nostrils.

I vow never to call you names, physically harm you, and never to forget that you have a large family member who may not be afraid to go to jail to protect you.

I promise to not scold you for farting in the privacy of our home, and to help you pop zits on your back, cut or groom things on you when you ask, and generally be helpful to keep you in a prime condition to provide me with yearly spa days I may need to keep my sanity. (This does not include you saying… “smell this” because that never ends well.)

I vow that I will still love you as your body starts to look like our grandparents do now.

I vow that as you get to old to stand alone, feed yourself, or to insane to know what time of day it is, I will be there to take care of you or have you institutionalized to get the care that you need.

I vow that if I don’t make good on these vows I will be open to talking about them again, and at length because I love you and you are now my best friend and forever part of my family.

It is quite a test to live with one partner for many years, but a comfort to know others have done it and it can be done. Maybe mom knew not to tell me all this stuff because if she had, I may never have married at all. Mom, you are my hero.