Marriage quiz: quick, what are the right answers?

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First Posted: 3/15/2015

I remember when I first became engaged, on the frontier, everyone had an opinion. My mother-in-law wasn’t thrilled. I think she wanted her son to marry a Byzantine Carmelite nun, but that wasn’t in the cards. My own mother gave me this stellar piece of advice:” Forget that crap about not going to bed mad. If I listened to that rule, I’d never get any d!@# sleep!” Sweet.

My daughter’s in a serious relationship with someone we hope she will eventually marry. We adore him. I try not to ask too many questions because we all know that’s the fastest route to erecting a blockade surrounding any intriguing Intel, but she does throw me a bone every once in awhile.

Yesterday: “Mom, I’m not saying we’re getting married anytime soon but he and I took this pre-marital quiz. It’s supposed to give you insight into your compatibility.”

“Well? What did you learn?”

“Oh. Nothing. We had a fight after question seven and never finished it.”

Well, I read that quiz and I can tell you, it was written by someone who is not married. For example, one question asked: “Will there be television in the bedroom?” Child, please. If there’s a man in the bedroom, there’s television in the bedroom. Another trick question: “What does my family do that annoys you?” Well, what don’t we do? Her boyfriend could’ve said: “Your mother’s new habit of writing a column about us” or “The way your mother laughs obnoxiously at her own jokes”, or “Your mother. Period.”

The other questions were equally ludicrous, so I asked my people what they deemed as their best marital advice. During dinner, my friend, Denise, said; “Don’t do it!”- which I misunderstood to mean: don’t order the Chicken Pot Pie, but she meant marriage. Another friend, Jen, dictated: “Always treat your spouse the way you’d like to be treated.” Well, that doesn’t make sense, because I want to be treated like a queen but I don’t necessarily want to reciprocate and treat Nancy like a king! Marriage is not a two way street, you know. Oh wait. Huh. Actually, that explains a lot.

Another suggestion? Say something kind about your husband before falling asleep. Does “You sound so much less like a leaf blower/shop-vac-snorer tonight” count? How about: “I see you flossed! Good job!”?

I want to tell my daughter there’s no quiz that prepares you for the ebb and flow of marriage, except marriage itself. There’s a honeymoon period followed by the real life period. Hopefully, you’ve chosen someone who you like as much during the first phase as the next; someone who sticks, even during the worst of times.

Listen, it ain’t easy. My husband and are I are less yin and yang and more Lucy and Ricky, Wilma and Fred, Herman and Lily. I’m the unpredictable storm and he’s the calming breeze. To paraphrase a scene in the movie: “This is 40”: “He’s not much of a fighter. That’s why he married you – you’re the fighter. And you need that. One person in the relationship needs to “punch” a metaphor for being the squeaky wheel, or in my case, the unhinged lunatic.

I will tell her marriage is harder than you think it will be, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And the prize at the end is substantial and fulfilling and a better reward than a golden egg. And it’s OK if you’re the one who needs to punch. Let the king stay in bed and watch TV.