For 57 years, I have thought we were married on December 22 1952, and this causes no end of consternation and negative thoughts for my wife, who alleges annually we were actually married on December 18, today. Fifty seven years is a long time to live with one person, and when you add the three years of dating, beginning when I was 17 and my then-girl friend was 16, that adds up to 60 years. In that length of time, one would think one would have an adequate opportunity to learn all there is to know about one's spouse. Actually, however, spouses reserve many surprises to prevent complete acquaintance from ever happening. Besides, for many decades, the breadwinner is away from home winning bread, working feverishly night and day to provide roofs over heads, fish sticks on the table, and avoid, insofar as possible, the time to fix stuff around home. During these decades, the wife, usually, becomes Queen of the Domicile, with no one else around, and pretty much assumes this dominant role will continue unchallenged when Daddy cleans off his desk at the office, hauls out a few unsharpened pencils and non-functioning ball-point pens, while the vultures await his leaving with glee so they can move into his prime office space. However, Daddy will be in for a few surprises as he has a golden opportunity perhaps, for the first time in decades, to get acquainted with his dear wife. One hears stories of long marriages actually breaking up, with one or more offending parties to the marriage, being shown the door.
I am just saying, men, if you want your marriage to last longer than the last day you spend at the office, mind your p's and q's, as my mother used to say, when you arrive home with your briefcase and the 50 cents worth of loot you pirated as your just deserts on your way out the door at the office. I have done little surveys and find that women do not fix lunch or breakfast for their long-suffering husbands, who must fend for themselves as a reward for supporting the spousal unit for decades. Wives also do not need instructions, nor will they tolerate them, on where to put stuff, which egregious soap operas they have been watching while you were whiling away your day on the internet, discussing the latest football game during coffee break (diet decaf Coke break at BYU), grading papers, BSing with drop in traffic, and saving all your work so you can work all night to finish what you should have got your sorry self doing during the day. Whatever. You may have been the CEO of IBM during your heyday, brother, but you are peon number 1 on north elm street. I reminded my wife one day that, after all, I am a Doctor of Philosophy, to which she replied, "Wow, boy am I impressed." See there. You are number 2, or lower, when you go home. My advice is buy two or three computers, so you always have at least one that is working, watch Matlock, do crossword puzzles, take long naps, and listen selectively to the warnings and instructions you are receiving from the Dear One in charge. In this manner, your marriage might be extended indefinitely. And you can go grocery shopping and buy all the goodies and stuff your wife wouldn't buy during your years of servitude in the Labor Force, enhancing the GDP.
But then wives certainly have put up with more than their share of stuff, to put it politely, from husbands who tend to be rude, crude, ill-mannered, and discuss unseemly topics when two or more of the male species band together, topics that need not be mentioned on a family-orientated blog. In my case, I intended to get a job out of college at the age of 20, but opted, instead, for four and a half years of grad school to get three more degrees, which meant my wife had to work since we had zero funds otherwise except a pittance for grad assistantships. I still have images of her hauling three yowling kids out the door in the icy winter at student apartments in Ann Arbor to go to the babysitter so she could go to her enjoyable job while I studied marginal costs and marginal revenues and the econometric analyses of snail movements in Bulgaria and other stimulating things one learns in grad school.
Our most useful implement during those days was a U-Haul trailer, which we loaded up whenever I decided I was ticked off at some dean, or needed a change of scenery, or another college degree, as we went from Laramie at the University of Wyoming, to Bozeman MT for a masters in Ag Econ, to Colo A & M for a job as instructor in Ag Econ, to Michigan for a master's and completion of prelims and advancement to candidacy, back to Colo St U (renamed), to Cheyenne to be director of the Legislative Council, to D.C. to work in Office of Secretary Office of Tax Analysis, to Ann Arbor to finish Ph.D. since couldn't stand working for govt, to Penn State for asst prof of ag econ, to U of Wyo to be Prof and director of business research, to Colo St U to be Prof of econ, and, gasp, at last, to BYU, a school I had vowed I would never go to, for the last 20 some years of my intellectual odyssey. As you can see, I was fortunate, indeed, I did not get left to my own devices, but then we had 4 kids, and finally 5, and I'm not sure my wife knew what she would do with them without my munificent college teacher's paycheck.
Life was a merry ride, with ups and downs, heartaches and medical crises, financial disasters, piles of books and newspapers and magazines strewn around to my wife's displeasure, hard work by everyone. But we did manage to raise five pretty decent kids, all of whom have raised pretty decent families and produced an ever burgeoning crop of great grandchildren. All of these positive results are due to the firm, yet gentle and calm and patient, hand my wife maintained throughout all the crises of child rearing and teenage obstreperousness, and despite our dear children hiding her little spanking board, which she never used, merely used to threaten, in the freezer, where it went undiscovered for some time. She worked from the time we were married, then took classes in five universities to complete her bachelor's degree with honors in education, which, sadly, would not produce a teaching job for her, ran a pre-school, ran two book stores, supervised our student apartments we owned, paid the bills with fine-tuned nuances, and rarely, ever complained, and became a licensed realtor. I saw tears only twice, and that was not until I asked her how she was doing during her last months before she got her hip replacement six weeks ago to relieve her excruciating pain. And that was enough to make me cry.
Why she kept me will be forever a mystery. But I can tell her, on our 57th Wedding Anniversary today, in the words of the song sung by Neil Diamond, "The story of my life begins and ends with you." Happy Anniversary. I hope the road hasn't been too bumpy and that you have forgiven me for all past, current, and potential future errors. No one could expect more than you have endured and accomplished with such sparse finances and a problematic husband. And I know you will have a fit when you read this on the blog, but I was short of topics to write about today.