Simcha Fisher: Questions for a long-time married couple

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Photo by Amanda Sixsmith on Unsplash

Who has four thumbs, has been married for almost a quarter of a century, and absolutely adores haunted houses?

I have no idea. Definitely not me and my husband. We have the thumb part covered, and it will be our 24th anniversary in a few weeks, but we’re ambivalent at best about haunted houses.

You may wonder then, why we’re currently packing our bags to spend a long anniversary weekend at something called “Screeemfest,” which takes place inside an amusement park, which we also don’t especially care for, and which features no fewer than five on-premises haunted houses. Yes, that’s Screeemfest with three “e’s,” just like in Eastern equine encephalitis. Eee!

The thinking, see, is that our expectations will be so incredibly low, there’s nowhere to go but up. We do like each other, and we definitely like getting away from our kids, I mean the workaday responsibilities of everyday life, I mean our kids; so, I don’t know, this is what we’re doing. Chances are good we’ll have a good time one way or another, and after 24 years, we’re just leaning into the fact that we got married in late October, that’s all.

This strikes me as a much safer strategy than what we’ve done for our anniversary in the past, which was to try and sneak away for a super ultra romantic absolutely perfect dream getaway — a perilous endeavor which included getting lost on the highway, and then the fireplace not lighting properly, being embarrassed because I didn’t know how to pronounce the name of the fancy cheese I wanted to order, being too tired for champagne, etc. etc. The heck with all of that. A romantic weekend is where you find it. Happy anniversary, BOO! Eee!

As a little present to myself, I asked my social media friends for help writing this post. I solicited questions for a couple who’ve been married more or less happily for almost a quarter of a century. Here’s what we came up with:

What’s the preferred term: “The marital act” or “The Obligations”?

Like so many things in a strong marriage, it’s mainly about making other people feel uncomfortable. But what long-married couples don’t want you to know is that their secret word for “sex” is actually inaudible. They’re probably saying it right now, and you don’t even know it. Boo!

Did you ever switch sides of the bed?

Several people asked some form of this apparently burning question, and one person volunteered the information that she once did switch sides, and her husband got up in the middle of the night in his sleep and peed in the closet. Just if you were wondering whether there are less romantic things than going to a haunted house for your anniversary. In our case, it doesn’t matter which side of the bed I’m on, because I never sleep. I used to be up with the baby all the time. Now I don’t have a baby, and all I do is put on my pajamas and spend all night getting up and getting some ibuprofen, all night long. It’s called ageing gracefully, look it up.

What’s the stupidest, funniest thing you’ve seriously argued about in those 24 years?

We never argue. That is the secret of our bond. It’s possible that, occasionally, we will be sitting side by side in marital harmony — in the chapel, say, or quietly overseeing our children going about their appointed chores — and one of us will say, “Hey, I think we are running low on paper plates,” and the other one will become so offended at the unspoken subtext, their nose will start bleeding and they will black out. But in general, we don’t argue.

Do you know each other’s SS#s?

I read this as “do you know each other’s  #[email protected]!%?” and I was like “heck yes, lady, I know that shizz.” But to answer the actual question, I know both of our social security numbers by heart, and I could mess him UP if I didn’t love him so.

Who is better at forging the other one’s signature?

I have gotten so good at forging his signature, I don’t think the bank would accept it as authentic if he actually signed one of his own checks. This is probably not what those financial advice columnists mean when they say to make sure your finances are transparent to both spouses so you can access everything should one spouse die accidentally, but that is what happened. I also know which bank teller gives the best lollipops at the drive thru.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your marriage? I.e. what positive change seemed obvious in retrospect?

I wish we had done more to take care of ourselves. So, therapy, exercise, nutrition, everything. It’s much harder to take care of yourself when you’re also taking care of a lot of babies and little kids, and we (frankly, mostly me) were doing that for many years; and there were definitely other things preventing us from doing this (time, money, energy, not having insurance), but we also didn’t prioritize our own health and well-being, and didn’t help each other prioritise it. It took me a long time to internalise the “put on your own oxygen mask first” thing, but it’s really real. It’s hard to be a good parent and a good spouse if you’re a mess. But, it’s also usually not too late to try and stop being a mess.  You’d be surprised at how not too late it is.

What annoying thing do you not complain about because a) he does it wrong, but b) at least he’s doing it at all?

Okay, this is a man who will literally run the washing machine with literally one shirt in it. One shirt! But, this is a man who does all the laundry. All the laundry! So he can do what he wants.

What specific prayer do you recommend to keep the murderous sensations at bay?

I don’t know about specific prayers, but St Joseph is THE MAN. No mess, no fuss, just help. Every time I ask, he comes through.

Much like my husband. Boo!