“I could search the whole world over/Until my life is through/But I know I’ll never find another you.” –as performed by The Seekers.
Five years ago, in conjunction with my 25th wedding anniversary, I was halfway finished writing a 40,000-word book of hard-won marriage wisdom.
A few months later, my wife Melissa proofread the completed manuscript but reserved the right — when time allowed — to read it from cover to cover a second time, removing passages she thought were too embarrassing for her — and by implication, using LARGE PRINT and GLITTER to highlight my own shortcomings. (“Forget ‘The DaVinci Code.’ Find out the sinister secrets of how snoring and bedcover-hogging were suppressed from the list of Seven Deadly Sins!”)
Well, a combination of work ordeals, motherly duties, daughterly duties and health issues (pardon, our family doesn’t merely have health “issues”; we have a shelf of BOUND VOLUMES) stalled those good intentions. And I followed my own authorly advice enough not to nag her, so here we are celebrating our 30th anniversary without an approved-for-publication book!
And I’m not complaining. I have food, clothing and a shoulder to lean on. I know that Melissa would take a bullet for me. Granted, she would hand the gunman a notarized document specifying, “Yes, I’ll leap in front of the slug, but only if I can finish this game of Candy Crush first,” but she would take a bullet.
Seriously, this unintended delay has given me an additional five years to appreciate this amazing woman and reconfigure the advice I want to share with the world, in a start-over-from-scratch “Top 100 Tips” book of pithier chapters.
I realize I had a head start in achieving a successful marriage. I married my best friend and the smartest person I know. But maybe that “best friend/smartest person” model isn’t for everyone. I mean, I don’t want to give a blanket endorsement to the trending “Marry Your Grandpa” movement. (“I identify as someone who enjoys showing off my body piercings at the Matlock convention.”)
Besides the stereotypical differences between men and women, we have had to deal with our own individual quirks. After three decades, I still must shake my head at Melissa’s definition of the phrase “a couple.”
Whether it’s a couple of chores or a couple of favors, it invariably expands into what most reasonable people would quantify as “a few” or “several” or “a shipload.” Her definition of “a couple” is looser than the elastic in my favorite briefs. Luckily, we don’t socialize a lot, because if she ever told me, “I’ve invited another couple over for supper,” I would immediately start contemplating how to find parking space for the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
There’s a special corner of hell reserved for people who refuse to make allowances for their spouse’s preoccupations. And I feel confident that Melissa would tell those individuals, “Are you sure you’re warm enough? You look like you’re on the verge of frostbite. Maybe you should take an extra sweater just in case.”
I promise to keep you abreast of the status of my new book. I hope it will amplify the theme that “Love conquers all.”
In the meantime, I think I hear Melissa calling, “Well, if love conquers all, there should be a victory parade! Let’s go shoe shopping!”
*Sigh* Yes, Light of My Life.