“What’s your secret to a happy marriage?” younger friends sometimes ask.
Okay, maybe they don’t ask me this, but I’m sure they’re thinking about it.
“The secret to a happy marriage remains a secret,” I announce, quoting Henny Youngman.
Marty and I repeatedly break the rules of matrimony set forth by experts such as Dr. Laura, Marty’s parents, and the Bible, advice such as “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”
There are times I’m so angry I lie in bed next to my husband and mumble something about marriage being overrated. This happens most often when I’ve had a long day at school and I come home and Marty asks whether I’ve been fooling around with the remote because “it seems to have stopped working.” There are times he’s so angry—I’ve laughed at him for not knowing who Sylvia Plath is—that he ignores me when I try to apologize. I storm out and tell him I’m going to sleep downstairs. I then make a loud stomping noise, wait ten minutes, maybe have a snack, and then get back into bed. “I’ve decided to forgive you,” I tell Marty.
It’s our eleventh wedding anniversary today. We’re doing something really romantic to celebrate—Marty is going to play Scrabble all day with Scott Garner, who’s driven all the way up from Memphis to spend Labor Day weekend here. Meanwhile, I’m driving to Champaign with a new friend for some shopping. Do I mind that I’ve been replaced in Marty’s Scrabble affections by Scott? Not a bit. I still play Scrabble with my husband. We go to tournaments. I’m just not as much into Scrabble as Marty is. Do I mind that our anniversary is basically spent apart? No. I believe that making my husband happy is my duty as a wife. Plus, Marty gave me fifty dollars for shopping, in addition to buying me the Cuisinart juicer I wanted.
We also had a nice anniversary dinner on Thursday in Champaign after my court appearance. Although the judge found me guilty of failure to yield, he lessened my fine, which was fine with me. After dinner we went to the Scrabble club all lovey-dovey. (Me and Marty, not the judge.) When John Fultz, the director, asked whether I’d mind playing my husband, I purred “Of course not. It’s our anniversary. Eleven years of wedded bliss.” Everyone oohed and aahed, though I suspect they may have been snickering behind our backs.
Marty wanted to play Collins, but my brain cells had all been used up in court.
My husband almost always wins when we play. Thursday, however, I drew all of the good tiles. After a few nice plays, I was ahead.
“Can you hold your tile bag up higher?” Marty asked. “And look away.”
“Are you accusing me of cheating?”
“Those are the rules.”
Things got worse when I successfully challenged off his GERMINS#.
“That’s the SINGER stem,” I announced in a very loud and important voice. “That’s WE LOVE THE CRAZY POP SOUND OF BOY GEORGE. No M in WE LOVE THE CRAZY POP SOUND OF BOY GEORGE.”
“In Collins there are three bingoes with M and SINGER. And one of them is GERMINS#,” Marty said very slowly and, I thought, rather menacingly.
I won the game.
A hush fell over the room. (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little.)
“Well, this is going to be a very long drive home,” I muttered.
But then Marty said, “Good game. You played really well.”
He’s been saying this lately when I do win, which kind of takes the fun out of gloating.
But it also makes me love him even more.
Happy anniversary to my Zebu.