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March 30, 2010

I, Long Sufferer, Take Thee, Butthead...

By Sarah

Yesterday, Hank wrote about proms and so logic follows that weddings should be next. Charlie and I will Dumb bride  be celebrating our 21st year together in a few weeks which means that not only have we survived a few hurdles, but we've arrived at the yummy time in our lives when the really big hurdles (aging, disease/death) are looming on the horizon. Yippee!

Also, the younger generation is getting married and having kids. My sister in law is a Great Aunt! My own nephew got married awhile back, but did anyone tell me? No. Then again, his brother didn't go to the wedding which pretty much puts the Duh in Dysfunctional. Piece of advice - in your next life, don't check the box asking if you'd like to come back as a Strohmeyer.

Anyway, there are a few things I would have advised my nephew, such as the importance of writing his own wedding vows. No, not THOSE wedding vows. I'm not talking about walking "hand in hand into the sunset of life" or "always being there in the snows and rain, to be my partner and best friend." Please! 

Marriage is a blood bond, a sacred oath to do battle together against enemies and, often, as enemies. ABraveheart   union of a man and woman (check your state law) is a violent defiance of universal oppression from which children are often (not necessarily) born and houses redesigned despite obvious domestic budgetary deficiencies. Only the strong survive while the weak take out the trash. 

It's true, and you know it. The fluffy wedding dress. The white cake and pastel flowers. Mere ploys to sucker in the chemically imbalanced.

So, here's the standard Christian vow ripped right of the BCP. 


I, ________ take thee, _______, to be my wedded (husband/wife)

to have and to hold from this day forward,

for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer

in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do us part,

This is my solemn vow.

These simple words are barely sufficient to lay out the conditions for lifelong commitment. My Comcast cable contract has way more terms. Which is why I suggest the following:

I, Naive Bride, realize that marriage is a dated idea based on property ownership and the sexist notion that women are chattel. That said, I also realize that going it alone in this often cold and unfriendly world is asking for trouble and that I find you, for reasons that escape my family, to be a reasonable, stable and relatively humorous guy who's probably not going to cheat on me on the first boys' weekend after our honeymoon. I like you. You like me. The sex is pretty good and from what people say, that can get you through a lot of crap.

Shackles  I promise not to belittle you in front of my friends/family, to support you when you're right and honestly disagree with you when you're wrong. I promise not to get hung up on stupid shit that doesn't matter like when was the last time one of us fed the cat and what kind of detergent did I use on your itchy boxers. I promise to try my best to make the good moments better and the not-so-great moments not so bad. And if we have kids, I promise to keep my criticisms of your lousy parenting to myself when we can be alone and I can rip you a new one.

I promise to keep separate checking accounts.

When we get old, if I don't shoot you first and make it look like an accident, I promise to advocate for you in the hospital and take notes during the cancer diagnosis. I promise to change any and all bags necessary without making a face. I will NOT wipe your ass, so save up for home health care now. I promise to be at your death bed, holding your hand during those last moments with a photo album and memories, to kiss you goodbye.

I also realize that, as with any contract, this marriage is valid only if both parties are sane. I know about me, but the jury's still out about you, buddy.  Just saying.

This is my solemn loophole.

So, that's my boilerplate. Please feel free to add your own vows.  I'm warning you, though, any sappyOmg   stuff about sunsets or always listening, will be blue penciled into oblivion.



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Before my wife and I got married, I had to promise her that I would never cut my hair short or shave off my moustache.

I didn't make her promise anything, since living with a guy like me is enough to ask of any woman.

For both parties:

When you start to snore, I vow to try those foam earplugs before I actually try to kill you in your sleep. Because it's the right thing to do, and it took me a long time to find this bedspread and I don't want to have to bleach the thing.

P.S. They should give a sample of those with every wedding license.

I had, shall we say, an energetic adolescence. My senior year of high school was the “Summer of Love” of 1967 and I held up my end. From my first experience with Eva B. at 15 until I met the future Mrs. P. when I was 20, I made the acquaintance of numerous young ladies. With this newfangled thing called birth control pills and no sexually transmitted illnesses that a butt full of penicillin wouldn’t fix, it was a lovely time to have a penis.

Then along came Jan. One day I’ll write the blog of how I knew she was the one. Our first date was on Valentine’s Day and we were married before the end of June. This June will make it 40 years. I have no memory of the vows since we went to a Justice of the Peace in Newport, KY. The only words I remember from that day was “Happy Jack’s” storefront had one of those blue “Come on In, It’s Cool Inside” decals on his door.

Over the years we’ve negotiated and come to certain understandings. When we had our first fight and she told me to go screw myself and I replied if I could do that than I wouldn’t have needed to married her, that has pretty much set the tone for the past 4 decades. It has been a fun, crazy ride and I would not have wanted to share with anyone else.

Basically I would say our vow was, is, and ever more shall be, “I’ve got your back if you’ve got mine.”

"It was a lovely time to have a penis."

Which leads me to ask, in the Passover tradition: "What makes this day different from all others?" Rod - the answer here is NOTHING.

Kathy: The "Summer of Love" is a distant and fading memory. Since turning 60 it has acquired a new nickname, "second belly button."

Rod summed it up nicely. I was about ten years behind, and from the mid-70's to the mid-80's, I was more than happy to allow the ladies to sample the Wonderfulness of Myself. (I was a great deal cockier back then; ignore the unintentional pun, please) Cutting a swashbuckling swath through the female populations of Vegas, Miami, and Houston, it was my life's mission to make JB look like a virgin monk in comparison. Along the way, I learned one valuable lesson:

Do you want to be RIGHT, or do you want to be HAPPY?

For reasons I won't go into, it was imperative that I always be RIGHT. No, make that **RIGHT**. And I would be more than happy to implement a Scorched Earth Policy to ensure that. I'd end up with nothing, but by God, I was RIGHT.

Eventually, I realized that being Right isn't all that important unless blood is spurting or someone's heart has stopped beating. If you're going to link your life to someone else, and mean it, you need to learn what to let go real quick. "Pick your battles" takes on a whole new meaning.

Let the small stuff go; believe me, it's amazing what really is Small Stuff when you think logically and unemotionally. Try and work together, but realize going in there will be times one of you will carry the heavier part of the load. Alternate that, and don't resent it. You're supposed to be in this together, so work together.

Not a lot matters. What does matter, matters a lot. Anything else is bullshit....

Oh, my - I haven't had nearly enough coffee to read about penises becoming belly buttons.

This is all wonderful advice. Like William, I struggled with having to be RIGHT about things that really didn't matter. And, as my mother used to say, I'd argue with my toenail. My husband is similar, so we would bicker all the time about nothing. We both have learned it's not worth it. Or maybe we're just tired.

Another thing I had to learn to get over was my insecurity. (I'm still working on it - in all areas of life.) I wanted him to be thinking about me ALL THE TIME. Not possible, or even healthy. I learned that out of sight didn't mean out of mind, and having stuff on his mind didn't mean he was over me.

And for the snoring, I learned to sleep with my pillow over my head. And now that he's lost weight and barely snores, I still can't get to sleep unless the pillow is over my head.

Isn't it interesting that the first commenters all have long-term marriages? Including mine, which just turned 28 at the beginning of this month.

Steve and I often say that we really need each other now, because at our age together we have a whole brain. If one of us can't remember something we rely on the other one to help us out. This is working, so far. I cringe to think about when we each only have 1/4 of our working brain cells or fewer.

By the way, I have told the girls that one of the main criteria for choosing a husband is this: Is this someone you can trust to wipe your butt when you get old, and is this someone whose butt you won't mind wiping. When I told Steve that he said "No way". So there you go.

I think it is Interesting that William and I shared a similar path to fidelity. During those early years I think it is important for a guy to get it out of his system. Most of the guys I know who later cheated on their spouses couldn’t have gotten laid at the “Chicken Ranch” in high school.

No offense ladies, but I pretty much have to agree with Ben Franklin that “All cats are gray at night.”The earlier a man figures that out the better. If there isn’t a bigger connection, than sex becomes “Insert tab “A” into slot “B” and it is purely an egotistical way for a man to get his cardio exercise. Show me a guy who treats women like disposable playthings after turning 30 and I’ll show you an idiot with mother issues who probably wet his bed until junior high.

Forty years ago I was fortunate enough to stumbled across the woman who is perfect for me. She is drop dead gorgeous, funny, smart, a great mom, unbelievably wonderful grandmother and a wholly terror in the sack. I’ve never strayed and I never will. Without my past, when we met I wouldn’t have been ready for my future.

Rod said: "Without my past, when we met I wouldn’t have been ready for my future."

Damn, Rod. I raise my Coffee Cup in respect for that one....

I think it's interesting that men are the big commenters so far. Just proves that despite what modern society tells us, men really do love marriage. It's why they run out and get remarried after their wives die and why married men live longer than single men.

Except for the ones that get shot in their sleep for snoring.

With seven billion people on the planet it's a downright miracle when you meet the perfect person for you. Rod, you got it in one.

Karen: In your case marriage was like making waffles. Sometimes you have to throw the first one out. At least you got Christy out of the mess.

I'm just here taking notes, to be filed away and then trotted out when planning my next wedding. Thank you, all!

I'm a vote for waiting. Of course, I got married while I was waiting, because I didn't know I was waiting. But you never do.

But Jonathan and I got married when I was 46 and he was 56--that was, what 14 years ago? And I really think--the key is ah, respect. We really deal with each other as if it were kind of a first date all the time. We compliment each other when we look nice, or are funny, or do something generous or wise.

And when somethign goes wrong, we try not to say I told you so. At least, more than onece. And even then, not in a mean way. And then we work together to fix whatever it is.

Jonathan is incredibly patient with me, I know that--and I'm patient with him. But it's not really "patience." It's just--as William says, not a lot matters. (I will confess to you that I sometimes think--would I rather not have Jonathan ask me to repeat something that know he heard, or have him not be here at all? And the answer is so easy...)

So, vows? I promise to be on your team.

Sarah, I love this blog.

As I was scrolling down the screen and read "...it was a lovely time to have a penis." I knew I had found the thoughts of Rod for the day.

And, like the other guys, having had several "samples" and very quickly realized when I had found "the one." I decision I have never regretted.

Of course, my vows followed much more of a contract form, in Aramaic; "On __________ [day of the week], the __________ day of the month __________ in the year __________ since creation of the world, the era according to which we are accustomed to reckon here in the city of __________ 'Be thou my wife according to the law of Moses and Israel, and I will work for thee, honor, support, and maintain thee in accordance with the custom of Jewish husbands who work for their wives, honor, support, and maintain them in truth."

In the last month, I have had two different friends announce that they are getting divorced. It is a shocker. The big phrase for this spring must be, 'I have not been happy for some time.' In the one case, I am still trying to figure out why, if she was so unhappy, she decided to have a child, since she apparently has been unhappy for longer than her offspring has been around.

As I have told people before; The Simpson's are fiction. So are Rosanne and Leave it to Beaver. Real men may talk about living like Hef, but they want to go home and kiss their wife at the end of the day.

A quick story of marriage:

Mike was going to be married to Karen so his Father sat him down for a little chat.

He said, 'Mike, let me tell you something. On my wedding night in our honeymoon suite, I took off my pants, handed them to your Mother, and said, 'Here - try these on'.'

She did and said, 'These are too big. I can't wear them.'

I replied, 'Exactly. I wear the pants in this family and I always will.' Ever since that night, we have never had any problems.

'Hmmm,' said Mike.. He thought that might be a good thing to try.

On his honeymoon, Mike took off his pants and said to Karen, 'Here - try these on.'

She tried them on and said, 'These are too large. They don't fit me.'

Mike said, 'Exactly. I wear the pants in this family and I always will. I don't want you to ever forget that.'

Then Karen took off her panties and handed them to Mike. She said, 'Here - you try on mine.'

He did and said, 'I can't get into your panties.'

Karen said, 'Exactly. And if you don't change your smart-ass attitude, you never will.'

Ah, Hank, you just nailed it. We don't say "Told you so", but a snippet from THE WEST WING has become the White Flag:

"I concede I was wrong.... however..."

"NO! NO 'however'. Just stand there in your Wrongness and be Wrong and get used to it!"

When that comes out, it's usually the sign we've both realized how ridiculous the situation has gotten, and end up laughing. Being able to laugh together is THE single best quality in a marriage.

If a writer is going to steal, steal from the best. For me, that's Aaron Sorkin...:)

Hank, do NOT get me started on who hears/listens/retains information. That is my current pet peeve in this house. I keep threatening to put things in Memo form and have them all initial it.

Tom tries to blame it on age, but we've had this issue for the entire 23 years we've been together.

Here is another part to add to the vows:

I promise if we have kids I will not enable them to adopt my bad habits by pretending they do not exist.

Oh boy, Kathy, that's a tall order....

Alan, I had to look up that vow to make sure you weren't bsing me. That is, may I say, AWESOME. Now that, my friends, is a contract a woman can live with.

What does the woman say? I'll have to check.

Okay, I just checked this stuff out and here are the various vows from...ketubah???

I love them all, especially the new ones. Paying for the wife's virginity, not so much.


Also, Alan, FYI - no marital relations if the ketubah's been lost, stolen or destroyed by fire. Contact your State Farm agent ASAP.

And, yeah, what is it with this, "We have not been happy for some time?" There's a lot of it going around my neighborhood, too. In fact, almost all my women friends got divorced after their youngest graduated from high school.

Yup, respecting one another is a really important one. And for my husband and me--who both had failed first marriages, we "get "it--we know how lucky we are to have found one another, we know what it's like to be in a crappy marriage, and we know that the only thing worth fighting for is us.

Sarah, by the way, every time I look at your title today it cracks me up.

My Kutubah only says woman, not virgin. Then of course, I didn't pay in zuzzim, but I knew the deal I was getting and was ok with that.

I have two kosher, signed and witnessed Kutubahs, just in case.

For about six months I delivered wedding cakes. One day, I am setting up a cake and the ceremony is going on on the other side of a partition. I hear, "We are gathered here today..." and figure I have about thirty minutes to finish the cake. The next thing I hear is "... by the power vested in me by the State of Missouri..." Dang civil ceremonies, they only take two minutes.

On that note, David Brooks actually has a piece today on how happiness is directly related to a happy marriage.


I dreamt last night about David Brooks, that he was my waiter because hard times had hit the NYT.

I guess that you could say that we grow up together after we married.
I am three years older than my husband and missed robbing the cradle by that much.
Ironically he was more mature and responsible than I and that worked because I could defer to him in many ways.
It seems that we have caught up in the 46 years-this week- that we have shared. I have taken over the obligatory household skills learning by trial and error. We gave me a lot of security and a family.
When we were first together, the bedroom was numero uno. We moved to the kitchen where if I had declared we were going to have Popsicles for dinner he would still have been besotted.
The living room is the focal point now and the battle over the remote is kind of a wearisome kind of thing.
Children have interuppted our gaze between the two of us. And now we are free to gaze at each other again. It may sound hokey, but I am grateful. We complement each other..I am the semi-ditz and he be MAN, hear him roar..only the decibels have decreased.
The arguments if any have decreased..if any..and now we figure if we can get up in the morning without moaning about our legs aching and get our glasses on without breaking them it's a good day. Yes, indeed..it's a good day!

Our friends, a married couple, are uncomfortable dinner companions. He says extremely rude things about her, then laughs in a way that invites us to laugh, too. My husband used to laugh. Now he knows better. The wife, however, exercises that we call "punitive shopping."--I mean, on the day after such a dinner full of "wisecracks," she spends *thousands* of dollars on fixing up the dining room or the interior of her jewelry box.

It reminds us that we need to be kind and thoughtful--not just in public, but at home, too. "I've got your back," indeed.

Ah, the vows. A gorgeous couple who met in early midlife (40-ish) and had both been married before, planned a very special and private ceremony in which their vows were so astonishingly gilded and ornate and spiritual as to either turn heads or induce nausea. I won't quote here because I wouldn't want either to feel disrespected should they happen to read this. I chose to hope they were merely terminally smitten and given to flights of prose, and I wished them well. When they divorced, not too many years later, both privately accused the other of being mentally ill.
Note to self: keep it simple. I rather like the "I've got your back" mantra that Nancy and others mention today.

Rod's quote "All cats are gray at night" ...
This is very interesting.
I guess women want to be recognized as a more fully developed human being.
Sex is nice but communication is even better.
A toast to William, Rod and Alan for affirming that REAL MEN are their for their women!!

My husband & I have been together since we were 16, and I don't mind saying that was 21 yrs. ago. Talk about growing up together!

Hank said it. Respect, especially respecting each other's differences, is key.

At the risk of public/cyber flogging, I have to say I kinda like the standard Christian vows. No fuss, no muss. "I love you. You love me? You still gonna love me when I'm fat? Wrinkled? Bald? Yeah. Cool."

All I can remember about my own wedding vows was something about trumpets. The pastor droned on & on about trumpets. One of these days, I'm going to have to watch that video and figure out what he was talking about.

I have next to no time, so just barely got to the 'lovely time to have a penis' and will definitely read in more detail tomorrow. But I had to say . . .

Sarah, the paragraph about growing old almost made me cry.

My husband and I hit our 21 last week and are in the midst of some remarkable and beautiful changes. I am the luckiest woman I know. Which just goes to show - keep trying until you get it right :)

Sarah, reading the potential contract I am reminded that ever married person goes through the ass kissing, the ass kicking and then horrors! they may have to evoke the ass wiping. I hope it never comes to this for most of us, anyway.

Oops, I forgot Doc..truly a love story!

Don and I have been married 40 years. We made sure we both didn't want kids before we married. We also promised if one of us ever fell for another person, we'd leave. Unorthodox, but it's worked for us.

Elaine, that's impossible. They don't allow six-year olds to marry.

When my husband and I married, we promised to say I love you every day and to never to go to bed with an arugment unresolved. It worked for us. When he got sick, I learned that you can do a lot of things you never thought you could. I can't imagine not doing it for him and I know he would have done the same for me.

At the risk of embarrassing myself (when has that ever stopped me) I just received an anniversary card from my daughter that says to us;
Thank you Mom and Dad
for the wonderful example of your love and

This just knocked me out and just needed to share. Thanks for your indulgence.

We ALWAYS say: It's in the Ketubah. Taht's our fallback reason. Jonathan takes out the trash, because it's in the ketubah. I ususally cook, or not, because it's in the ketubah. Jonathan decides what's for dinner on Thursday, it's --you get the picture. Ours is framed on the bedroom wall, and it's lovely, but it's in Hebrew, so who (is our house at least) is gonna know what it really says?

William: Aaron Sorkin. Absolutely. xo.(Remember the time zone episode? And Toby and the Jacket?)

In sickness and in health. Sometimes the sickness comes early and stays long. When I married him, 37 years ago in July, he could do anything. Today, because of his MS, not so much, but that's okay, I can do it.

No matter what, we always say 'I love you' whenever one leaves the house and always before going to bed. We don't ever want to regret not saying it.

My hubby and I dated for 6 years and have been married for 28...(and I'm only 29?) I try not to think about the how's and why's..it might hex things....when you start off with a drunk priest who forgets most of the mass, things have to get better, right?
Great blog Sarah!

NOra,you're so right! And it also sounds like a blog for a whole other day..

MArie,that's lovely..and exactly how it's supposed to work.. Plant a carrot, right?

and Peg H- I just stopped by to say goodnight, and then you bring me to tears.

Peg H..you are an inspiration.
Nora, our priest on the eve of our wedding was so cute he almost got me distracted during the rehearsal. He later left the priesthood. Hmmm...
Hank, a whole lot of luck went into the planting..not a whole lot of weeds showed up. Have a great evening.

Ex#1 was such an abusive jagoff. I remember telling him that total strangers treated me better than he did.
I've always tried to remember that thru the years. Be polite to each other, it doesn't hurt a bit to say please & thank you.
My son called once & asked how Dwain & I got along so well.
1) You have to have a sense of humor & be able to laugh at yourself.
2) compromise! Nobody is going to be exactly what you want all the time. Get over it! If you try to change someone, you'll both end up unhappy.

Comment from Bea, who couldn't get through the Typepad gauntlet:

"Marriage is a blood bond, a sacred oath to do battle together against enemies and, often, as enemies."

So true. My husband and I have had more than one, um, episode of, ah, disagreement abruptly end when some third party is rude to one of us, or something happens that requires us to have a united front. In a moment, we move from being enemies to preparing for united battle against enemies. I like that, and will know it is a worrisome development if either of us fails to answer the call. Wow--that is a lot of warrior imagery for a discussion of marriage....

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