Atlas Kvetches: Advice for a Friend Newly Married in Middle Age


Expert Advice

  1. Don’t go introducing your first wife as your “first wife.” Very few people find that funny. Heh, heh.
  2. In general, the answer is “yes” unless it involves wearing man Uggs.
  3. You have two years to establish your habits and patterns, after which these become the boundary conditions of your confinement -if that includes getting a new Porsche lease every year or having an annual dinner with some close woman friend with whom you have a platonic but almost but not quite When Harry Met Sally kind of relationship, you have to set the pattern within the two year mark.
  4. Start work on your man cave for all the things that you love that she hates. That space will never be big enough.
  5. If you share bank accounts, you should put aside and maintain some cash inside an unused guitar for spur of the moment purchases like: 1. lap dances, 2. bribe to get out of Mexican jail, 3. over and under 12 gauge shotgun, 4. food for secret family, 5. escape
  6. Spontaneity worked in dating, but predictability keeps the marriage secure. Share your Outlook or iCloud calendar, broadcast your phone’s GPS, update your Facebook frequently or hire someone reliable to do these for you, paying out of the funds in #5
  7. Learn and appreciate the incognito mode on Google’s Chrome web browser. 
  8. Golf gives you 5-8 hours of quiet alone time. If she takes up golf, the other options include: 1. Iron Man training, 2. piano lessons, 3. trips to buy obscure companies that make obscure but needful things, 4. solo sailing, 5. extreme litigation, 6. closet with an inside lock, Lazy Boy, and iPad.
  9. Prepare for inevitable valleys of despair and peaks of reasonable happiness by collecting whiskies.
  10. Buy one of those clicker counters (those red plastic ones are best) to keep track of meaningful conversations. Remember you can only have 100 meaningful conversations with the wife before it all ends, and you don’t wan’t it to end so soon, so pace yourself. About one a year may sound crazy but goes a long way to keep the bonds tight. 
  11. All hires -personal secretaries, nannies, staff, should be younger versions of your wife, just to keep everyone on their toes. 
  12. Stop with the Q-tips -let the ear wax buildup and let hearing slip. Hearing is overrated, particularly in the married. 

The 100th Conversation


couple001It is established, at least to my mind, that a person can only have a hundred meaningful conversations in the course of a relationship, and it is folly to run through them in the first several years of said relationship. In postponing these conversations, you maintain some semblance of mystery and self-hood. The process of having one of these results one of the participants being spiritually absorbed, to the one-hundredth part, by the hungrier party. This is usually the woman who is the devourer. It is never a bright thing to allow oneself to be spiritually phagocytized.

I was recently eating lunch with my son G at Gateway Market, our local version of Whole Foods, and I saw this couple in earnest conversation. What could he be saying that left the young lady in such a serious pose? I could imagine this:

Marty: “You know, you were the best of the lot.”

Rose: “What do you mean.”

Marty: “I figured I had these criteria when I was single and looking around. Looks, money, intelligence, personality, and cooking ability.” 

Rose: “Oh. What are you saying, I was a compromise.”

Marty: “No, you are the complete package, sweetums.”

And that would be it. Marty has no where to go but down. This picture was taken probably about ninety minutes after the start of the conversation. 

Rose: “So you mean there were prettier girls?”

Marty: “In one sense, sure, but that’s when you break down looks by face, boobs, legs, and ass. Any one woman may predominate in one category, but might be completely zero in other more important categories.”

Rose: “So you made a conscious choice? You had a spreadsheet!”

Marty: “No honey, when I saw you, I knew you were the one…”

As G and I smacked away at our food, the Titanic was sinking right before us. Here was the human condition at a yuppy café in Des Moines. 

Rose: “What kind person are you! Do I know you! How can you reduce a woman down to parts like a chicken -drumstick, thigh, breast and wing? How dare you sum me up by personability and money and the ability to make a soufflé!”

Marty: “Snookums, I was just making conversation.”

This is why the couples that last 50-75 years together sit in resplendent silence. Our life spans are far beyond what nature had intended. Nature had intended that we be run down by hyenas at the ripe old age of 20. My advice: shut up!

What honey? I’m talking to the people in the computer again. About nothing…