Yesterday there was a quiz in one of those trendy women’s magazines. It was designed to help you discover if your marriage could endure the stresses of retirement. If you answered any questions wrong, your marriage was as secure as a termite infested lean-to.
Question: If you only have one car, do you share it equally?
My condition for Bill’s retirement was two cars. I’ve known too many couples who divorced over the car issue. Men retire. Women never do. They still have the same need for the car for all their important errands. Bill drives to the golf course, to Krispy Kremes and to Home Depot. Although he is a mature, bright adult, once behind the wheel, he loses all sense of time. “I’ll be back in twenty minutes. I’m just going to pick up a lug wrench.” He could be gone for days, while I waited for that car. In any hardware store, a man can spend six hours in the nuts and bolts aisle, drooling over the endless sizes, not to mention the section of toggle bolts. Did you ever see anyone toggle?
Question: Do you wish you could go somewhere without him?
Of course I do. Being together is great but give me a break. Every day? When the kids were little, I never went anywhere without one or both clinging to a leg or some other appendage. In those days when I had a really bad day and wanted to be alone, I usually ended up at Wal-Mart. By the time I got everyone settled for the night, that was the only place open, except bars. Since Bill retired, I found a 24 hour Wal-Mart, for my alone time. I usually go after dinner when he’s cranked into the “lights out” position on the recliner. I never buy much. I just roam the aisles and talk to myself until the clerks begin to give me funny looks. Then I go quietly home.
Question: Do you discuss interesting subjects at dinner?
During Jeopardy? Lets face it, not much has happened since breakfast unless the house has been broken into or a storm surge has wiped out the neighborhood. Television keeps us from staring mindlessly at the mashed potatoes. We try to save what counts for conversation for those nights out when we’re alone in a restaurant that doesn’t have waiters in paper hats. That’s the time when we pretend we’re dating again and the subject of children, grandchildren and the state of the economy is off limits so we can happily digest the meal.
Question: Do you ever feel your home is a jail?
No. In jail, you don’t have to cook.
Question: Are you always cheerful at bedtime?
Generally. But the nights I'm not, Bill has made some unfortunate comment like, “I think I'll turn in. I've really had a tough day.” or “Have you gained weight this week?” This leads to one of those arguments that involve a general breakdown of reasonable thinking. Since I always liked his mother, I steer clear of questioning his ancestry and just bring up all the things he's forgotten to do since we've been married.
Question: Do you go to bed at the same time?
Mostly. Sometimes, I have to stay up to get the laundry done because, like most women, I spent four hours reading a book about strange California religious sects that specialize in wife-swapping, potluck suppers and obscene macramé wall hangings.
Question: Do you avoid telling him bad news?
Are you nuts? Why rush to tell him I scraped the side of the car when the chances are good he’ll never look at the passenger side? Why ruin his day by telling him I maxed out the credit card on a dynamite sale at the Pottery Barn? All in good time.
Question: Do you ever look at your spouse and wonder why you married him?
Daily. Even after thirty-three years, it's a sheer wonderment to me. How could I have been so smart to choose someone like Bill to spend my golden years with? I guess I was just lucky he asked.
Martha Powers is a former humor columnist who left behind the winters of Chicago for the sun and sand of Vero Beach, Florida. She is the author of eleven published novels. Martha writes fiction thrillers but finds that killing off the bad guys isn't as much fun as writing for laughs. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org