Friday, October 19, 2012

On A Scale Of One To Ten...

Pam and I were asked recently to help teach one of those “marriage enrichment” classes at my church, to a group of younger couples. I suppose that chief among our credentials for this job was the fact that we have been married for 28 years and display no signs of hostility towards each other in public. We accepted with great trepidation.

This week’s lesson concerns the tendency that each marriage encounters towards isolation, the natural bias that we humans have for drifting apart. Very good point and an important topic. The example is given about this one couple who was asked to rate the quality of their marriage on a scale of one to ten…one being something akin to Dante’s 9th circle of hell and ten being uninterrupted honey-moonal bliss. The husband quickly and confidently rates his marriage a 10, while the incredulous wife goes back and forth between .5 and 1. How can this be?

OK, before attempting an answer, I should simply say that I reject the question. It’s a ridiculous speculative exercise in score keeping. If I were asked such a question I would respond something like this…”Er. What?” See, for me to rate my marriage on a scale of one to ten, I would need more information. Marriage is a complicated, multi-faceted collaboration, that is divided into a series of relationships. There’s the parenting side, the financial side, daily operations, how the house is kept etc.., there’s the sex part, not to mention the quality of the meals. A guy might rate his marriage a 8.5 at the dinner table and a 3.5 for parenting. The woman might give the financial part a 7 while rating the daily operations at 2.5 because although her husband might be a good provider, he’s also a slob. As the kids like to say on Facebook…it’s complicated. But I suppose if a gun were held to my head and I was told to come up with a number, I would say that I think my marriage is a 7.875, give or take .075.

Then I get to the section at the end of each lesson called…”Date-Night Ideas”. This week I run across this gem…

“ Spend two hours on the couch together one evening

without TV, cell phones, computers, or the internet.

Spend time together talking, reading to each other,

or just sitting quietly together.”

I wouldn’t have any trouble talking with my wife for two hours. She is interesting, and beautiful to look at. I’m not sure how reading to each other would work. Maybe it would be fun actually, as long as I didn’t have to read or listen to anything by Danielle Steel or Nicholas Sparks. But the last one made me laugh out loud!! “Just sit together quietly”??? Are you kidding me? And do what…gaze into each other’s eyes, contemplate the time space continuum? I mean, is touching involved? Will there be snacks?


I can think of nothing worse than having to sit quietly in one place for two hours. For one thing, I’m not a very good sitter, and secondly, nature abhors a vacuum. Silence may be golden, but it also leads to madness. Walk the halls of nut-houses in this country and I bet you half of the occupants having spoken a word in years. If God intended us to be quiet, he never would have invented the cell phone.

Although I have a few minor quibbles, I’m actually liking this class. After 28 years, it’s refreshing to examine the fundamentals of my marriage. I already feel like the luckiest guy on earth to have found Pam, but there’s always room for improvement. Just don’t ask me to activate the cone of silence thing. That’s just crazy talk.