Why Marriage Requires Appreciation That Your Spouse Hasn’t Died Yet
So as you may know, there was a somewhat notorious “humor” column published last Christmas Eve in The New York Times by a writer I’ve occasionally admired in the past, Heather something, titled ‘Why Marriage Requires Amnesia.’ Maybe hers does, and I’m sure she was just trying to be funny in her own way, but I’m really pissed off by the whole thing.
If this was supposed to be humor, it’s the least fucking funny humor piece I’ve ever read. Among other things, Heather writes ‘amusingly’ about how loud and annoying her husband’s sneezes are. My late wife sneezed louder than anyone I’ve ever known. Do you know what I’d give to hear one of her sneezes again? Anyway, Heather doesn’t like the way he clears his throat, either. Phlegm, you know. And on and on.
“This is just how it feels to be doomed to live and eat and sleep next to the same person until you’re dead,” she writes in the pages of the Paper of Record. Well, sure, Karen. Hey, I have an idea: let’s go all Matrix for a second and say you can take a little red pill and have the experience of being widowed for a week. I don’t wish anyone to have that experience, but I so value what I learned and I wish other people could know what I know without having to go through it. Know what you have, is what I’m saying. Maybe be a little grateful?
I don’t know what kind of massive self-entitled privilege it takes to write something as offensive as this, to assume that your singular experience of marriage must be true of everyone else’s, and to dismiss with contempt anyone who dares to disagree with you on the topic.
“Do I hate my husband? Oh for sure, yes, definitely. I don’t know anyone who’s been married more than seven years who flinches at this concept. A spouse is a blessing and a curse wrapped into one. How could it be otherwise? How is hatred not the natural outcome of sleeping so close to another human for years?”
Of course, she realizes she’s not perfect either. Of course, she appreciates the good things he does and loves him very much even though she also sometimes hates him. The even more self-righteous Friends of Heather on Twitter say you don’t understand her mojo and have to read more of her pieces (she’s a well-known advice columnist, you know).
In less than three weeks, I will have six years experience as a widower. I’m remarried, too, and am a far better husband for having been widowed. I realize how lucky I am to currently be in a happy marriage with a lovely caring person who adores me and who I in turn adore, and don’t take it for granted for a moment that I can apply all the lessons I learned from losing my first wife towards being a better husband with Mrs. Second Time Around (who’s a widow herself and knows the drill).
Of course, marriage isn’t happily-ever-after all the time. Of course, couples occasionally annoy each other and may argue and fight over things both trivial and significant. I’m not naive. But I also appreciate what I have and haven’t for a minute considered that throwing your life’s partner under the bus for the sake of a few clever points in print is part of the freelancer’s toolbox (and hey, it’s a humor column, which entitles you to be humorless in condemning anyone who doesn’t think it’s funny).
Marriage doesn’t require amnesia. It requires patience, and consideration, and understanding. And if your spouse laughs at your jokes, that’s quite the bonus too.